REPORT: Cable News Focuses On Handshake, Selfie In Coverage Of Mandela Memorial

In their evening coverage of the December 10 Nelson Mandela memorial service, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC focused a majority of segments on President Obama's handshake with Cuban President Raul Castro and on a “selfie” Obama took with world leaders during the event rather than on the service itself or Mandela's legacy.

Evening Cable News Focuses Majority Of MemorialSegments On Handshake, Selfie  

All Three Networks Focused Memorial Coverage On Handshake And Selfie. According to a Media Matters analysis, CNN covered Mandela in nine evening news segments, with 67 percent focused on the handshake or selfie. 65 percent of Fox News' 14 segments focused on the handshake or selfie, as did 55 percent of MSNBC's nine segments. Only 33 percent of CNN's coverage focused on the memorial service or Mandela's legacy, the smallest percentage of all three networks.

Handshake Mentioned Almost As Often As The Service In Mandela Coverage. Out of 32 total evening cable news segments that referenced Mandela, 22 mentioned either the memorial service or Mandela's legacy while 18 mentioned the handshake. All three networks had segments that focused on either the handshake or the selfie while paying no attention to the service itself.


Media Matters reviewed Nexis transcripts for “Mandela” on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN shows on December 10, 2013, 5 p.m to 11 p.m. We excluded teases and only included segments in which the focus of the entire segment was in some way related to Nelson Mandela. We coded whether each segment mentioned the memorial service, Mandela's legacy, the selfie, or the handshake, as well as which of those topics was the primary focus.

Charts by Oliver Willis.