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Gabby Miller

Author ››› Gabby Miller
  • On day after DOJ announced it would support overturning the entire ACA, Fox News covered it for just 20 minutes

    Over 20 million Americans could be affected by this decision

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    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On Monday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its support of a federal appeals court ruling that would overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in its entirety. Fox News barely covered the Trump administration’s decision.

    In December, a federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by 20 Republican state attorneys general and governors that would nullify the entire ACA. The Trump administration had previously supported striking down the consumer protections in the health care law -- including those for people with pre-existing conditions -- but had argued other provisions, such as Medicaid expansion, could still stand. This latest and sudden reversal of the administration’s position would put more than 20 million Americans’ health insurance at risk and allow private insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The day after the DOJ’s announcement, cable news devoted four hours and six minutes of coverage across Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC combined. Throughout the day, Fox News spent just 19 minutes and 34 seconds covering the administration’s attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act. By contrast, CNN and MSNBC spent nearly two hours each covering the news.

    Coverage of the DOJ’s attempts to legally undermine the ACA in particular, and health care policy in general, has consistently been lacking. In June, when the department initially announced it would not defend coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, cable news barely covered the story. 


    Media Matters searched the SnapStream video database for transcripts of CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC that aired March 26, 2019, between 4 a.m. and midnight that contained any of the following terms: "Affordable Care Act,” "ACA," “Obamacare,” “Obama care,” “healthcare,” or “health care."

  • STUDY: Over the past 3 months, guest panels on Sunday shows have been overwhelmingly conservative

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    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Over the past three months, right-leaning guest panels on the five major Sunday political news shows have outnumbered left-leaning panels 33 to six. Nearly half of all guest panels titled right, meaning they had more right-leaning than left-leaning guests; by comparison, less than 10 percent of the panels tilted left. Forty-three percent of the panels were ideologically balanced.

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    By a wide margin, the show with the most imbalanced panels overall was NBC’s Meet the Press, where 85 percent of all panels tilted right. In total, 11 of the show’s 13 panels leaned conservative, while none of the panels leaned left. Two panels were ideologically balanced.

    Panels on Fox News Sunday were the second most conservative leaning, with 62 percent tilting right. In total, eight panels were right-leaning, while just two panels were left-leaning. Three panels were ideologically balanced.

    On CBS’ Face the Nation, conservative panels outnumbered left-leaning panels by a ratio of 2-to-1. Six panels tilted right, three panels tilted left, and four panels were ideologically neutral.

    On ABC’s This Week, 40 percent of panels were right-leaning while there wasn’t a single left-leaning panel. Overall, six panels tilted right, no panel tilted left, and nine panels were ideologically balanced.

    On CNN’s State of the Union, 79 percent of panels were ideologically balanced. Two panels tilted right, one panel titled left, and 11 panels were ideologically balanced.

    In total, across all five shows, 33 panels tilted right while just six panels tilted left. Twenty-nine panels were ideologically balanced.

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Previous Media Matters studies show that Sunday shows have favored conservative guests for years, regardless of whether a Republican or a Democrat was in the White House.


    We reviewed every edition of ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, NBC's Meet the Press, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, and CNN's State of the Union from August 5 through October 28. We coded guest appearances for all five programs for political ideology, labeling the guests as Democratic/progressive, Republican/conservative, or neutral. We classified guests based on either their own ideological self-identification or their public affiliation with an openly partisan or ideological organization or institution. The neutral category does not necessarily imply strict ideological neutrality but, rather, might be better understood as neutral/centrist/nonpartisan -- we use the term "neutral" for the sake of brevity.

    We coded panels as tilting left when a majority of participants were Democratic or progressive; we coded panels as tilting right when a majority of participants were Republican or conservative; and we coded panels as balanced when Democratic and progressive guests numbered equally with Republican and conservative guests. Neutral guests did not affect a panel's tilt. A panel was defined as a group of multiple guests appearing on a show simultaneously, with the exception of 1) debates between political figures, 2) joint interviews, which we defined as a newsmaker interview with two or more guests where the guests have a tangible connection or are being interviewed with the express purpose of sharing similar viewpoints, and 3) focus groups with voters.

  • Cable news devoted scant coverage to the increased Puerto Rican death toll

    Sunday news shows completely ignored it


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    In the five days after the Puerto Rican government acknowledged that the death toll from Hurricane Maria was over 20 times higher than previously reported, cable news devoted scant coverage to the continuing problems in Puerto Rico’s ongoing recovery efforts.

    On August 9, Puerto Rican officials acknowledged that the death toll from Hurricane Maria far exceeded the official count of 64 deaths. New numbers that were “quietly acknowledged in a report posted online” suggest that it is likely more than 1,400 people died in the aftermath of the hurricane. The initial 64 number referred to people whose death was “directly caused” by the storm, but it failed to include those who died due to indirect effects.

    Despite the staggering numbers revealed in the report, cable news devoted scant attention to the news. Between August 9 and 13, all three networks combined discussed the revised Puerto Rican death toll number for less than 45 minutes. CNN spent the most time covering the report, devoting a total of about 30 minutes during the five-day period. MSNBC spent just over nine and a half minutes discussing the new death toll, while Fox News devoted less than three and a half minutes to the news.

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Continuing a trend, the major Sunday news shows (State of the Union, Meet the Press, Face the Nation, This Week, and Fox News Sunday) completely ignored Puerto Rico in their coverage. It’s a sad state of affairs when a show like Meet the Press can find more than 20 minutes for an interview with former The Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault Newman but can’t find a single second to discuss Puerto Rico. Monday coverage fared no better, with MSNBC devoting only six seconds to the report while CNN and Fox News had already completely moved on.

    Reporting in late July showed that almost 11 months after Hurricane Maria hit the island, there were still hundreds of Puerto Ricans living without electricity. And while hurricane season has officially begun again on the island, electricity remains to be fully restored from Hurricane Maria. Nearly a year after the hurricane hit Puerto Rico, cable news is still failing to fully report on the death and destruction it caused.

  • 10 people were killed in the Santa Fe shooting. Cable news moved on almost immediately.

    Six days after 10 people were murdered in a school, cable news devoted less than 5 minutes of coverage to the attack

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    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On May 18, a 17-year-old student opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas, leaving 10 people dead and 13 people injured. It took less than a week for CNN, Fox, and MSNBC to drop mentions of the school shooting and its aftermath almost entirely from their news cycles. What started as wall-to-wall coverage on cable news on the day of the shooting dropped to less than five minutes of coverage a week later on all three channels combined.

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Wall-to-wall coverage: The day of the shooting, May 18

    News of the shooting first emerged across cable networks at around 9:20 a.m. on May 18, and the networks gave frequent updates on the emerging details throughout the next hour and a half. By 11 a.m. all networks were covering the shooting continuously. Fox News quickly blamed the seemingly never-ending cycle of school shootings on violent video games and mental health and called for installing armed guards at schools and giving guns to teachers. MSNBC’s initial coverage tapped into local news outlets periodically and mostly focused on the unfolding facts of the shooting. CNN’s coverage was similarly focused on the emerging facts, with some speculation about the mental health of the shooter.

    The networks continued their wall-to-wall coverage throughout most of the day, and it dominated CNN’s prime-time and evening shows as well. MSNBC’s coverage started to wane during the 4 p.m. hour: The shooting was still dominating the discussion, but it wasn’t the sole story covered. Similarly, Fox News started to cover other stories during its 5 p.m. show. Fox News and MSNBC devoted significantly less time to the shooting during their evening programming than CNN did.

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    A drastic drop: Weekend coverage, May 19-20

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    By the next day, coverage of the shooting had drastically declined. CNN went from over nine hours of coverage of the massacre on Friday to just under one hour of coverage on Saturday -- in large part due to the network’s coverage of the wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle. Fox News, which covered the shooting for over seven hours on Friday, dedicated just over two and a half hours to the story on Saturday. And while MSNBC spent nearly seven hours on the shooting on Friday, the channel dedicated a little less than three hours to it on Saturday. On Sunday, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC covered the shooting for 1 hour and 33 minutes, 2 hours and 15 minutes, and 1 hour and 20 minutes, respectively.

    The royal wedding seemed to suck the oxygen from the coverage of the shooting, and the focus on Santa Fe never quite recovered. CNN’s coverage on Saturday consisted solely of hourly segments between noon and 7 p.m. And while Fox and MSNBC devoted more attention to the shooting and its aftermath than CNN did on Saturday, there was still a significant drop in coverage.

    Fading from the news cycle: The next week, May 21-24

    The following Monday, just three days after the Santa Fe shooting, each cable news network devoted just a little over an hour to the shooting, totaling 3 hours and 50 minutes. By Tuesday, the networks spent just under 37 minutes combined on the shooting. On Wednesday, the coverage was down to under nine minutes combined. And by Thursday, less than a week after the shooting took place, Fox, MSNBC, and CNN devoted less than five minutes combined to the shooting and its aftermath.

    Out of the three cable channels, MSNBC has been the worst in giving continuing coverage to the shooting and its aftermath. The network’s coverage from Tuesday to Thursday totaled just 1 minute and 36 seconds. On Thursday, MSNBC didn’t mention Santa Fe at all.

    One would think that with questions about how to stop the epidemic of school shootings still unanswered, coverage of the massacre would last more than several days. One would be wrong.

    Just one week has passed since the attack -- which was the 22nd school shooting this year -- but the sense of urgency and alarm about this ongoing crisis has already faded. Networks have moved on to covering fake “spy” scandals, other happenings in the Trump/Russia investigation, and other stories de jour. It says a lot about our society when a mass school shooting fades from our national dialogue in less than a week. In part, it reflects and contributes to the normalization of and desensitization to mass shootings in America. In January, when 16 students were shot in a school shooting in Kentucky, cable news devoted just 16 minutes to covering the rampage the day it happened. There was speculation in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, FL, in February that news coverage would take mass shootings at schools more seriously. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. 

    Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream transcripts of CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for mentions of the word “school” within 10 words of any variation of “shoot,” “Santa Fe,” or “Texas” between 4 a.m. and midnight starting on May 18, the day of the shooting, and ending on Thursday, May 24.