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“Television Media Played Into Republicans’ Hands”: TV News Does A Complete 180 On Ebola Coverage After Midterms

Network news coverage of the Ebola virus abruptly and dramatically fell off following the midterm elections earlier this month, according to a new study by Media Matters.

After reviewing transcripts from Oct. 7 to Nov. 17 in the 5-11 p.m. time slot, Media Matters discovered that evening broadcast and cable news programs aired close to 1,000 segments on Ebola in the four weeks leading up to the elections, and only 49 segments in the two weeks that followed.

“In early October, the GOP developed a plan to make the federal government’s response to Ebola a central part of its midterm elections strategy,” the study reads. “Television media played into Republicans’ hands, helping to foment panic about the disease.”

CNN showed the most significant decrease in Ebola coverage following the midterms, airing 335 segments in the weeks leading up to Election Day and just 10 in the period after. Fox News’ coverage fell from 281 segments to 10, and MSNBC recorded a disparity of 222 segments to 13.

Broadcast networks showed a pronounced dip in their Ebola coverage as well.

“CBS’ 54 segments dropped to six, NBC’s 44 segments dropped to five, and ABC’s 39 segments dropped to four,” according to the study.

But even before the compilation of this data — before the correlation between Ebola and the midterm elections became so clear — the media faced harsh criticism for the fervor and panic with which it reported on a virus that had only infected, at most, a handful of U.S. citizens.

In October, Fox News’ Shepard Smith scolded his colleagues in the press for their “irresponsible” and “hysterical” handling of the story.

USA Today columnist Rem Rieder, notes Media Matters, called the “breathless, alarmist reports” on Ebola “the antithesis of what responsible journalists should be doing,” in a piece published a week prior to the midterms.

And despite all the reports and panels, and the hours upon hours of segments leading up to Election Day, the coverage was still rife with misinformation and largely incomplete. News outlets obsessively scrutinized the handling of few isolated cases of Ebola within the U.S. while all but ignoring the thousands dying from the disease at the source of the outbreak.

“If poor media coverage can create an atmosphere of anxiety and misinformation, then the right kind of coverage can lead to a more active and productive public response,” Jason Linkins wrote for The Huffington Post in October. “To achieve this, the media needs to recognize that the true center of gravity in the Ebola story is the crisis in West Africa.”

 

By: Jackson Connor, The Huffington Post Blog, November 19, 2014

 

November 20, 2014 Posted by | Ebola, Media, Midterm Elections | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Liberal Media Bias?: The Sunday Shows Can’t Help Themselves

I promise not to do this every Sunday morning — it only seems like I will — but take a look at today’s guest lists for the five major Sunday shows.

* NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)

* CBS’s “Face the Nation”: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)

* ABC’s “This Week”: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R)

* Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday”: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) [Update: Mike Huckabee (R) is a late edition to the line-up]

* CNN’s “State of the Union”: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), former Bush administration officials Dennis Blair and John Negroponte

For those keeping score at home, that’s two Republican presidential candidates, two House Republican leaders, two Senate Republican leaders, one Republican governor, one former Republican governor, two Bush administration officials, and one Democrat.

Liberal media, indeed.

In fairness, it’s worth noting that after these headliner guests, the shows will feature panel discussions, and some of the voices will be center-left. Paul Krugman will be on ABC, E.J. Dionne Jr will be on NBC, and Joe Lockhardt will be on CNN.

But (a) this doesn’t make up for the seven-to-one imbalance among officeholders and candidates; and (b) each of the center-left guests will be featured alongside a conservative, presumably to offer the kind of “balance” viewers won’t get with the headline guests.

Rachel Maddow noted the other day, “The Sunday shows are supposedly the apex of political debate — the pulsing, throbbing heart of what’s going on in American politics.”

Right, and week in and week out, this debate is dominated by voices from only one party.

A couple of years ago, Josh Marshall talked about how the Washington establishment is simply “wired” for Republicans. It’s GOP ideas that get attention; it’s GOP talking points that get internalized; it’s GOP voices that get aired.

The Sunday show guest lists help drive the point home nicely.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly, May 15, 2011

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Ideology, Journalists, Media, Politics, Press, Pundits, Republicans, Right Wing, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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