Research/Study Research/Study

Cable news networks obsessed over Biden’s age while overwhelmingly ignoring Trump’s

Even though Biden is only three years older than Trump, 89% of candidate age mentions were about Biden

  • In the week following President Joe Biden's April campaign launch, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC continuously emphasized Biden’s age, mentioning it 588 times, while mentioning former President Donald Trump’s age only 72 times.

    On April 25, Biden announced his reelection bid for 2024. Biden, largely focused on campaigning to protect “freedoms” against “MAGA extremism,” has long dealt with right-wing criticism of his age. In the week following his campaign announcement, Biden’s age and mental “fitness” were repeatedly topics of conversation across cable news.

    CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC often described Biden’s age as his campaign’s biggest hurdle. But the networks overwhelmingly failed to mention that his most likely Republican opponent, current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, is only three years younger.

    From April 25 through May 1, 2023, the week following Biden's announcement, the three largest cable news outlets mentioned the president’s age nearly 600 times. Fox News accounted for the most mentions of Biden’s age (236), with only 9 references to Trump’s age, while CNN mentioned Biden’s age 180 times, compared with only 29 mentions of Trump’s. MSNBC mentioned Biden’s age 172 times, with only 34 mentions of Trump’s.

  • Chart showing number of mentions of Biden and Trump's age on cable news
  • Fox & Friends mentioned Biden's age the most of any Fox News program. The three-hour morning show mentioned it 36 times -- far more than their single mention of Trump's age. Fox News’ Harris Faulkner mentioned Biden’s age the most of any speaker on the three networks (24 times). Her show, The Faulkner Focus, mentioned Biden’s age a total of 27 times with only 1 mention of Trump’s age.

    Morning Joe, airing for four hours each weekday morning, led all shows on MSNBC with the most mentions of Biden’s age (35) and only 10 mentions of Trump’s. CNN This Morning, airing for three hours each weekday morning, had the most mentions of any CNN show — 35 to Biden and 8 to Trump.

    Biden will be the oldest major presidential candidate in history, so his age will be an unavoidable topic. But since the current GOP front-runner is just three years younger, networks highlighting Biden’s age and baseless questions about his mental “fitness” should also note Trump’s rather than just feeding into right-wing attacks and speculation.

  • Methodology:

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC for either of the terms “Biden” or “Trump” within close proximity to either of the terms “age” or “elder” or any variations of any of the terms “old,” “seventy,” “eighty,” “70,” or “80”  from April 25, 2023, when President Joe Biden announced his 2024 re-election bid, through May 1, 2023.

    We included mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on any topic mentioned either Biden or Trump’s age.