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House Democrats passed a $3 trillion stimulus package -- Fox News dominated the conversation

In a week, CNN covered the historic bill for under 30 minutes

  • Fox News dominated the cable news conversation around the passage of House Democrats’ historic $3 trillion spending bill, infusing the narrative with conservative talking points. Fox News spent 2 hours and 28 minutes covering the bill -- five times times as much coverage compared to CNN, which spent just 28 minutes. MSNBC fared slightly better, covering the bill for just over an hour and a half.

    On May 15, House Democrats passed a historic $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The bill, which got only one Republican vote, focused on widespread relief for Americans hurt by the coronavirus, a second round of stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits, rent and mortgage assistance, and hazard pay. The bill also included nearly $1 trillion dollars in relief for state and local governments facing revenue shortfalls as a result of the virus.

  • Heroes Act coverage chart
  • By taking the lead in coverage of the bill, Fox News framed discussion around culture war issues and conservative talking points. The day of the vote and after its passage, Fox figures attacked the bill as “a far-left wish list” for providing too much relief for undocumented immigrants, bailing out the marijuana industry, and providing too much support for the arts and humanities. This right-wing frame has helped shift focus away from Republicans’ unwillingness to provide sufficient relief to out-of-work Americans and cash-strapped local governments.

  • Methodology

    Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for any of the terms “stimulus," “HEROES act," “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions" “bailout," “aid package," “three trillion," “3 trillion," “wish list," “grab bag," or “pet priorities" for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, or MSNBC from May 15 after the passage of the bill through May 21, 2020.

    We included as segments any instances where the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act was either the stated topic of discussion or where there was significant discussion of the HEROES Act. We defined significant discussion as a back-and-forth between two or more people. We timed all segments for our time count. We also included teasers for upcoming segments about the HEROES Act and passing mentions of the HEROES Act in segments about other topics in our time count.