MSNBC Live for July 19, 2020: Housing and evictions crisis

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox covered Goya controversy for nearly 2 hours in one week but spent just 21 minutes on housing crisis over seven weeks

  • Since June 1, Fox News has covered the looming housing crisis for just 21 minutes while MSNBC and CNN have given the story 1 hour and 32 minutes and 52 minutes, respectively. By contrast, Fox has given the Goya Foods political controversy 1 hour and 52 minutes of coverage in a seven day period beginning July 10.

  • Fox News coverage of Goya controversy vs. housing crisis
  • The nation’s coming housing and evictions crisis in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic is the culmination of expiring federal benefits that only partially covered affected Americans and a phasing out of state and local measures. The crisis is potentially of an unprecedented scale: 20% of America’s 110 million renters are at risk of eviction by September 30. As many as 6.7 million renters could lose their housing by the end of July.

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided a $600 weekly unemployment benefit to those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The CARES Act also provided temporary relief from eviction for tenants in federally subsidized housing and tenants whose properties’ owners have federally backed mortgages. But these measures are set to expire at the end of the month unless Congress comes to an agreement on future economic stimulus.

    The Democratic-led House has already passed a $3 trillion package, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which would extend unemployment benefits and create $100 billion rental and $75 billion mortgage assistance funds, among other benefits. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and other Senate Republicans have dismissed the bill.

    Despite the urgency and scale of this crisis, Fox has provided its viewers with hardly any discussion on the topic over the last seven weeks: just 21 minutes since June 1.

    Instead, the network has given dramatically more time -- 1 hour and 52 minutes from July 10 through 16 -- to the Goya Foods controversy, in which Goya CEO Bob Unanue praised President Donald Trump as “an incredible builder” and added that America is “truly blessed ... to have a leader like President Trump.” A consumer backlash ensued, and White House adviser and daughter to the president Ivanka Trump published a widely mocked promotional tweet that likely violated an executive branch ethics prohibition on using the office to endorse commercial products.

    Meanwhile, MSNBC and CNN have both devoted much more time to the evictions crisis: MSNBC spent 1 hour and 32 minutes on the matter while CNN devoted 52 minutes in the seven weeks studied.

  • Cable news coverage of housing and evictions crisis
  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for any of the terms “coronavirus,” “virus,” “COVID,” “COVID-19,” “pandemic,” “outbreak,” “public health,” or “health crisis” within close proximity of any of the terms “housing crisis,” “housing payment,” “eviction,” “rent,” “mortgage,” “foreclosure,” or “unemployment benefits” from 4 a.m. June 1 through noon on July 20, 2020.

    We included any discussion or mention of the looming housing crisis; of any benefits that could contribute to the crisis -- including the end of rent, mortgage, or eviction moratoriums or the end of federal unemployment benefits -- that are set to expire near the end of July 2020; and of any potential economic relief packages from Congress, such as the House-passed HEROES Act, if the discussion was within the context of expiring benefits and the coronavirus. We also included discussions about the struggles of Americans to pay for their housing, whether mortgages or rents, but we did not include discussions about the struggles of businesses to pay for their commercial spaces.

    We searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel for the term “Goya” from July 10 through 16, 2020. We included any discussion or mention of any angle of the Goya Foods controversy.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.