Fox News' America's Newsroom for July 30, 2020: Trump's tweet to delay election

Research/Study Research/Study

Fox helps Trump hide terrible economic news

Fox spent just 1 minute discussing the worst quarterly economic plunge in United States history

  • The United States economy just had its worst quarter on record, according to a newly released report by U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, and Fox News has barely mentioned it. Roughly 15 minutes after the BEA released its historic economic report, President Donald Trump floated the idea of delaying the U.S. elections in a tweet. While CNN and MSNBC both spent more time on the economic news, Fox barely mentioned it and instead focused significantly more on the president's tweet, which some have called a distraction -- one which Fox News was apparently happy to go along with.

    At 8:30 a.m. this morning, the BEA reported that the U.S. gross domestic product contracted at a 32.9% annualized rate in the second quarter of this year, the worst drop in U.S. history. This marks the second consecutive quarter in which the country's GDP dropped, which commonly defines the beginning of a recession. Shortly thereafter, Trump tweeted another attack on mail-in voting, and added, “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

    CNN and MSNBC quickly noted that Trump’s tweet could be a distraction from the poor economic news and devoted more of the morning’s coverage to that story; however, Fox barely mentioned the historic economic contraction and instead spent more time covering the president’s tweet -- effectively helping Trump try to bury the other story.

  • Cable news coverage of worst-ever GDP quarterly collapse vs. Trump tweet on delaying election
  • MSNBC and CNN each covered the economic story for nearly 30 minutes: MSNBC gave the GDP story 29 minutes, and CNN focused on it for 27 minutes. By contrast, Fox discussed the shrinking GDP for only roughly 1 minute. Instead, Fox discussed Trump’s tweet for 20 minutes, which was as much as both MSNBC and CNN’s coverage of the tweet combined.

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters reviewed the raw video of CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC using the SnapStream video database from 8:30 a.m. EDT, when the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its report, through 11 a.m. EDT, when cable networks cut to live coverage of Rep. John Lewis’ funeral service, on July 30, 2020, for any mention or discussion of either the BEA report or President Donald Trump’s tweet suggesting that the United States should delay Election Day.

    We included discussion of related economic issues, such as unemployment and stimulus spending in regard to the coronavirus pandemic, when those issues were discussed within the context of the quarterly GDP contraction. We also included discussion of related voting issues, such as mail-in voting or voter fraud, when those issues were discussed within the context of Trump’s tweet. We timed all relevant speech for our analysis.