Ahead of the Nov. 4 midterm elections, the major television news outlets are covering the anticipated anti-Obama voter backlash with far less fervor than in 2006, when a public disgruntled with President George W. Bush handed control of Congress over to Democrats.
According to an analysis by the conservative Media Research Center (MRC), the three U.S. broadcast news networks are covering this year’s elections — widely anticipated to be a net loss for Democratic incumbents — with a frequency that pales in comparison to the incessant anti-GOP coverage they offered ahead of the 2006 midterms.
According to the MRC, the Big Three networks are “all but ignoring” the possible shift in Congressional control:
In less than two weeks, voters head to the polls in midterm elections that seem certain to yield strong Republican gains, if not outright control of the U.S. Senate. Such a political sea change is big news, but a new Media Research Center study finds that, in contrast to their enthusiastic coverage of the 2006 midterms when Democrats made big gains, the Big Three broadcast evening newscasts are all but ignoring this year’s political contests.
MRC analysts studied every election story on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through October 20 in both 2006 (the midterm election in George W. Bush’s second term) and 2014 (the equivalent election under President Barack Obama). Even in a changing media landscape, Big Three evening newscasts are a principal news source for more than 23 million viewers, beating all of their broadcast and cable competition.
Our analysts found that, when Democrats were feeling good about their election prospects eight years ago, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and ABC’s World News aired a combined 159 campaign stories (91 full reports and another 68 stories that mentioned the campaign). But during the same time period this year, those same newscasts have offered a paltry 25 stories (16 full reports and 9 mentions), a six-to-one disparity.
In addition, ABC’s “World News Tonight” has neglected to offer even a single story on the midterms. “[T]his year, a regular viewer of ABC’s evening newscast would have no indication that any [elections] were even taking place,” MRC observes.
NBC even launched an in-depth series of stories in the run-up to the 2006 midterms, featuring individual Congressional races that promised to flip party control from the GOP to the Democrats.
“It wasn’t biased for the networks to sift through polls and predict bad news for Republicans eight years ago,” MRC concludes.
“But now that the party labels are reversed, those same networks are showing their bias by giving so much less airtime to the bad political news for Democrats this year.”