David Muir

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  • Census Report On Median Income, Poverty Gives Broadcast News A Chance To Prove Itself

    Generally Strong Coverage Of Census Data Shows TV News Outlets Can Still Cover The Economy Well When They Try

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    The major broadcast evening news programs each provided great examples of how network news can still be a source of concise and informative coverage on the economy this week when they covered new data releases from the Census Bureau.

    On September 13, the U.S. Census Bureau released annual updates to its ongoing reports on income and poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States. The reports revealed stunning positive news about the state of the American economy: a record-setting 5.2 percent increase in median household income from 2014 to 2015, median income at its highest point since before the Great Recession, a drop in the official poverty rate of 1.2 percentage points, more than 3.5 million Americans lifted out of poverty, a 1.3 percentage point drop in the uninsured rate, and roughly 4 million fewer uninsured Americans. In response to the data, Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) noted that 2015 marked just the second year since 1988 “that brought simultaneous progress on poverty, median income, and health insurance.”

    Print and online coverage of the Census data was overwhelmingly positive, with CNNMoney writer Tami Luhby and Washington Post contributor Paul Waldman both noting that the data undermine a key (albeit, “false”) talking point frequently used by Republicans: that there has been wage stagnation, and President Obama is to blame.

    Just as importantly, the positive coverage continued during the September 13 editions of major nightly broadcast news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, which collectively draw more than 20 million daily viewers. Only ABC failed to note all three of the key Census data findings -- the increase in median income, the drop in poverty, and the drop in the uninsured rate -- during its reporting.

    As is often the case, PBS NewsHour offered the most in-depth and detailed discussion of the Census reports. Correspondent Lisa Desjardins spent just under three minutes detailing the data and discussing its possible political ramifications and effect on the upcoming election. The segment even included some cautionary notes, including reasons that some Americans have not seen a boost in take-home pay despite the surge in median earnings and some potential problems faced by customers on the private insurance market.

    Next in terms of quality of coverage were CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, both of which discussed all of the key takeaways from the data. CBS anchor Scott Pelley said the Census reports were “great news” and stood as proof that “more Americans are cashing in on the recovery.” NBC anchor Lester Holt added that “middle class incomes had their fastest rate of growth ever recorded” and “incomes increased across all racial groups.”

    ABC’s World News spent the least amount of time on the topic, mentioning the Census data as just part of a discussion about the stock market, but anchor David Muir still noted that the 5.2 percent median income increase was “the largest rise in nearly 50 years.”

    The individual segments might not seem like cause for celebration, but, according to recent Media Matters analyses of broadcast news coverage, each segment should serve as an example of how these programs can adequately discuss the economy.

    Overall coverage of the economy fell considerably from the first to second quarter of 2016, as the major networks focused more of their limited time on horse-race political coverage detached from the economic issues that actually drive voter behavior. Coverage of economic inequality and poverty also decreased from the first to second quarter of the year overall -- only ABC and CBS focused more attention on those crucial subjects from April through June than they had in the first three months of the year:

    Unfortunately, throughout the first half of the year, major news outlets have been focusing less and less attention on the economy, creating a void that can easily be filled with misinformation. As broadcast and cable outlets retreated from covering the economy, misleading and biased stories emanating from Fox News and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump accounted for a higher proportion of coverage.

    Broadcast evening news shows face considerable challenges in trimming segments down to fit abbreviated commercial schedules, but their coverage on September 13 demonstrated that the flagship programs can still balance brevity and substance when they try.

  • Trump's Non-Apology Is Being Spun As His Latest Presidential Pivot

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Media again hyped a “pivot” and a “new tone” for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after he said in a speech read off of a teleprompter that he “regret[ed]” “sometimes … say[ing] the wrong thing” and using rhetoric that “may have caused personal pain.” Trump gave the speech hours after his spokesperson suggested that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton might have a language disorder caused by brain damage.

  • ABC's World News Tonight Ignores Stephen Bannon’s Extremism

    Blog ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    ABC’s World News Tonight ignored Steve Bannon’s long history of extremism and racism in their report on the Breitbart News CEO’s new job as chief executive for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.  

    ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir characterized Bannon as “a onetime Goldman Sachs banker and film director, stepping down from his current job as head of ultra-conservative Breitbart News,” reporting Bannon had previously attempted to make sure Trump “would not be swayed by Republican leaders calling for a more moderate tone”:
     

    TOM LLAMAS: Today, at Trump Tower, cameras ushered in for what looked a lot like a Trump cabinet meeting. Donald Trump surrounded by his top advisers, and now, some fresh faces. There, at the end of the table, his new campaign CEO, Stephen Bannon, and new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway. Trump not saying much during this photo op, but his actions today, that campaign shakeup, sends a clear message: Trump is going back to his way of doing things. 

    [...]

    Bannon, a onetime Goldman Sachs banker and film director, stepping down from his current job as head of ultra-conservative Breitbart News. He's never worked on a campaign, but today, the Trump team touting in a press release a magazine article calling him "The Most Dangerous Political Operative In America." Trump, a guest on Bannon's radio show in May, Bannon making sure the candidate would not be swayed by Republican leaders calling for a more moderate tone.

    In contrast to ABC’s reporting, both CBSEvening News with Scott Pelley and NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt highlighted Bannon’s history of anti-immigrant and nationalist rhetoric. 

     

  • Network Evening News Programs Ignore Crucial Facts In Reports On Clinton Aide's Immunity Agreement

    ››› ››› BRENDAN KARET

    In a March 2 report, the Washington Post reported that the Department of Justice granted immunity to Bryan Pagliano, an aide of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who allegedly set up her private email server. In their coverage of the report, nightly news programs on CBS, ABC, and NBC hyped claims that Pagliano's immunity signaled a troubling development for Hillary Clinton -- while neglecting to inform viewers that Pagliano's "limited immunity" is commonly requested and received in these types of investigations, and is "not indicative of guilt."

  • ABC Moderators Ignore Climate Change And Planned Parenthood, But Find Time For Presidential Spouse Questions

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    ABC News' moderators did not ask the candidates about climate change or anti-choice domestic terrorism during the December 19 presidential debate, but did find time to inquire about whether the role of the presidential spouse should change.

    On November 27 a gunman killed three at a Planned Parenthood clinic. He subsequently said he was trying to ensure there were "no more baby parts" and described himself as a "warrior for the babies" in court. The attack started a debate over the link between violent rhetoric directed against women's health providers and terrorist attacks on those clinics.

    On December 12, leaders from every country in the world struck a historic climate change agreement in Paris to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

    Moderators David Muir and Martha Raddatz did not raise either of these topics during the debate, but did find time to ask all three candidates about the role their spouses would have if they were elected. CNN's moderators previously ignored both the Planned Parenthood attack and the climate agreement during the December 15 Republican primary debate.

  • Broadcast Evening News Omit Clinton's Campaign Finance Reform Plan From Coverage Of Candidate

    NBC, ABC, And CBS Evening News Ignore Clinton's Finance Reform Plan To Focus On Email Use And Polling

    ››› ››› LIS POWER

    Broadcast evening news programs entirely ignored Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign finance reform proposal, instead continuing to focus on speculation about Clinton's email use and poll numbers, according to a Media Matters review.

  • ABC's World News Tonight Mainstreams Right-Wing Media's Keystone XL Pipeline Jobs Myth

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    ABC's World News Tonight pushed the myth that building the Keystone XL pipeline could create up to 40,000 jobs. In fact, the pipeline is expected to create as few as 50 permanent jobs.

    During a November 18 report on the failed Senate vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, World News Tonight anchor David Muir stated that "many argued it could have created thousands of American jobs." ABC White House correspondent Jonathan Karl added that "the jobs estimates range from 4,000 to 40,000 jobs. Proponents say it not only creates jobs, but it could lead to energy independence."

    But PolitiFact has classified similar claims that the construction of the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs to be "mostly false," because a vast majority of the jobs would be temporary, and it "does not amount to tens of thousands of full-time jobs in the most common sense of employment." According to PolitiFact, "the State Department estimates the operation of the pipeline will only create 35 permanent, full-time jobs and 15 temporary contractors" once construction is complete.

    The pipeline would also do little for "energy independence." Much of the oil that would be carried by the pipeline is slated for export, and U.S. imports of oil would be minimally affected by the supply that would flow through the pipeline.