On Tuesday, the Republican National Convention dropped Mary Ann Mendoza, an “angel mom” whose son was killed by an undocumented immigrant drunk driver in 2014, from the program just hours before she was scheduled to speak. Earlier in the day, Mendoza had shared an anti-Semitic Twitter thread from a QAnon conspiracy theorist that falsely alleged a Jewish plot to enslave the world with perpetual war. Even though Mendoza is also an advisory board member on President Donald Trump’s campaign, televised coverage on CNN and MSNBC quickly moved on from the story after Mendoza lost her speaking slot.
From Tuesday, August 25, when the story broke through 1 p.m. EDT on August 26, CNN covered the Mendoza story for just under nine minutes, including a panel discussion and report from the network’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. MSNBC covered it for just over 10 minutes, including one panel discussion and several questions to Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh.
Fox News, which had initially promoted Mendoza’s then-scheduled appearance for four minutes earlier in the day, including an interview with her, covered the story with two headline segments for less than one minute.
This dwindling media focus on QAnon-linked extremism and anti-Semitism among one of Trump campaign advisory board members is even more stark considering he invited Marjorie Taylor Greene, a prominent QAnon believer and a Republican nominee for Congress, to the White House for the final night of the RNC. Trump has hailed Greene, who is widely expected to win her November election, as “a future Republican star,” despite her support for a popular conspiracy theory that is linked to several crimes and considered a possible domestic terrorism threat. And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen disastrous reporting failures unfold in real-time. When QAnon supporters staged nationwide rallies recently, local media largely covered them as innocent citizen attempts to raise awareness of child abduction.
Mendoza’s bad retweets are not an outlier and though the coronavirus pandemic, protests against police brutality, riots, Hurricane Laura, and so much more are worthy of significant coverage, so too is a dangerous and destructive conspiracy theory taking over the Republican Party.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the Snapstream video database for CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for the term “Qanon” or any variations -- including misspellings -- of the terms “Mendoza” or “antisemitic” between 4 a.m. EDT August 25 through 1 p.m. EDT August 26. All times were rounded to the nearest minute.