Media Matters analyzed cable news chyrons during and immediately after President Donald Trump’s press gaggles in May and found 91 instances of chyrons parroting the president’s false claims -- 95% of the time the misinformation went unchallenged in the chyron.
- Overall, through 10 press gaggles, cable news repeated 91 false statements attributable to President Donald Trump in chyrons, and only 5% of those were disputed in the chyrons.
- Fox News repeated Trump’s false statements 62 times in chyrons.
- Not a single chyron on Fox that included false information pushed back on the claim.
- CNN and MSNBC rarely disputed Trump’s false statements in chyrons, but the networks' chyrons repeated the president's falsehoods much less often than those on Fox.
Chyrons -- a defining characteristic of broadcast and cable news -- are the text graphic at the bottom portion of the screen that summarizes the news story being discussed on air. Viewers might not give chyrons much thought, but their eyes are drawn to them instinctively while watching television. The chyron serves to anchor the viewer to the story; it can catch up viewers just tuning in, or it can contextualize a story for viewers at a place that makes listening difficult or impossible, such as at a loud bar, a busy airport, or the gym. More importantly, as The Atlantic Executive Editor Adrienne LaFrance wrote, the chyron “frequently reveals a network’s editorial values.”
Media Matters reviewed raw video of CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC and collected every chyron for all 10 of Trump’s press gaggles broadcast live during May. In total, we collected 452 chyrons, of which 266 included a direct Trump quote or a paraphrase of his statement. We then cross-checked these quotes with The Washington Post’s ongoing database of false or misleading statements from Trump.
We found that throughout the 10 press gaggles, the cable networks combined had 91 chyrons that quoted a false Trump statement; 86 of those chyrons -- 95% -- included no pushback. Fox News was the worst offender of the three networks, parroting false Trump quotes in 62 chyrons. Not a single chyron on Fox that included false information pushed back on the claim.
CNN and MSNBC displayed chyrons with Trump’s false claims much less frequently overall -- 11 and 18 times, respectively. CNN disputed only three of those false Trump statements while MSNBC disputed just two.
Parroting false Trump statements isn't unique to TV chyrons. A previous Media Matters review of Twitter feeds of major media outlets found that Trump’s false or misleading claims were repeated uncritically 92% of the time during press gaggles and pool sprays and 65% of the time overall. Media outlets also routinely repeat misinformation from the administration uncritically in headlines.
Media Matters used our internal database to identify all press gaggles broadcast live on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC during the month of May 2019. These gaggles were aired on May 3, 9, 13, 14, 16, 20, 22, 23, 24, and 30. All three networks aired footage of each gaggle except the one on May 20, which only CNN aired.
We collected all unique chyrons that aired during the live broadcast of each gaggle and the 15 minutes following each gaggle. We counted each unique chyron one time with its associated gaggle regardless of how many times a news program cycled through its active chyrons.
We identified which chyrons quoted or paraphrased a statement from Trump and then cross-checked those statements with The Washington Post’s ongoing database to identify false or misleading claims. After determining whether a statement in a chyron was also identified by the Post as false or misleading, we determined whether the chyron itself disputed the false or misleading Trump statement.