The nation’s Big Three TV networks that breathlessly reported the 2006 anti-Bush election which gave Democrats control of Capitol Hill have practically ignored this year’s anti-Obama midterms that are expected to return full control of the Hill to the GOP.
A new and exhaustive Media Research Center analysis compared the last seven weeks of CBS, NBC and ABC news coverage with the same period in 2006 and found a 6-1 disparity between the Democratic election wave and the current election. The story count: 159-25.
The worst offender is ABC’s newly-renamed “World News Tonight.” The show hasn’t aired a single story. By comparison in 2006, ABC’s “World News” aired 36 stories on the midterms, including a weekly feature that then-anchor Charlie Gibson promised would look at the “critical races.”
Said the MRC report provided to Secrets: “Back then, the elections were a major news topic; this year, a regular viewer of ABC’s evening newscast would have no indication that any were even taking place.”
The numbers are jarring. In 2006, “NBC Nightly News” aired 65 stories about the pro-Democratic midterms during the Sept. 1-Oct. 20 period. This year during the study period the network has aired 11. “CBS Evening News” aired 55 election stories in 2006, and just 14 this year.
The study is likely to feed the view held by Republicans and conservatives that the New York City-based networks are in the tank for the Democrats who are expected to lose House seats and relinquish control of the Senate to the GOP. They are also expected to lose gubernatorial elections they had hoped to win, like in Ohio.
The focus on NBC by the MRC's Kyle Drennen and Rich Noyes provided perspective on the disparity in coverage.
“In 2006, with Democrats poised to make big gains, the broadcasts eagerly touted their midterm coverage. On the September 20, 2006 'NBC Nightly News,' anchor Brian Williams hyped how his broadcast was beginning 'a special series that will take a close look at some of the most interesting races in these upcoming midterm elections.'
“This election season, 'Nightly News' did not air its first full report on the election until Sunday, October 12. Except for a single full story on October 14 about the Kentucky Senate race (how the Democratic candidate refused to say if she had voted for President Obama), 'NBC Nightly News' has thus far this fall provided no in-depth coverage of any specific races or candidates — merely short mentions of individual contests.”Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.