Blog

Networks Spend 55% of Time Covering Russia-Trump, But Only 6% of Americans Say It’s ‘Top Issue’

Craig Bannister
By Craig Bannister | July 20, 2017 | 12:16 PM EDT

Networks spend more than half their newscasts on Russia-Trump

A new Bloomberg poll shows that health care is the top issue for Americans, even though network newscasts have relentlessly hammered viewers with coverage of Democrats’ accusations about Russia and President Donald Trump.

The Bloomberg National Poll reveals that 35 percent of Americans say “Health Care” is the top issue today - nearly three times the 13 percent who cite “Unemployment/Jobs.”

Only six percent cited “Relationship with Russia” as the most important issue.

But, Media Research Center (MRC) Newsbusters analysis shows that network news programs spend far more time covering Russia-Trump than they do any of Americans’ actual top issues. In the five weeks following the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller (May 17-June 20), networks devoted 353 minutes of their total 640 minutes of airtime (55%) to the Russia-Trump probe.

Thus, even though nearly six times more Americans cited "Health Care" as the top issue, networks devoted more than 20 times more coverage to Russia. The other issues in Americans’ top five were cited roughly twice as often as Russia – yet, networks devoted up to 71 times as many minutes to covering Russia.

Here are the top five “most important” issues cited by Americans in the Bloomberg poll, followed by the relative amount of time networks spend covering them, compared to their Russia-Trump coverage.

#1 - Health Care 35%:

  • 5.8 times more people cited Health Care than Russia (35%-6%),
  • Networks devoted 20.8 times more coverage to Russia than to Health Care (353-17 minutes)

#2 – Unemployment/Jobs 13%:

  • 2.2 times more people cited Unemployment/Jobs than Russia (13%-6%),
  • Networks gave 70.6 times more coverage to Russia than to Unemployment/Jobs (353-5 minutes)

#3 – Terrorism 11%:

  • 1.8 times more people said Terrorism than Russia (11%-6%),
  • Networks spent 12.2 times more time on Russia than on Terrorism (353-29 minutes)

#4 – Immigration 10%:

  • 1.7 times as many people cited Immigration as cited Russia (10%-6%),
  • Networks spent 70.6 times as many minutes covering Russia as they did covering Immigration (353-5 minutes)

#5 – Climate Change 10%:

  • 1.7 times more people cited Climate Change than cited Russia (10%-6%),
  • Networks devoted 7.5 times more coverage to Russia than to Climate Change (353-47 minutes)

The MRC analysis examines the disconnect, between what Americans want covered and what networks actually report on, and explains how public trust of media has declined due to media bias:

“TV’s obsession with the Russia investigation flies in the race of what the public says it actually cares about. According to a Harvard-Harris poll, ‘a majority of voters believe the Russia investigations are damaging to the country and are eager to see Congress shift its focus to healthcare, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs.’”

"Given the disconnect, it should be no surprise that half of all voters see the media as biased against Trump, compared to only four percent who think the media are pro-Trump, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, with two-thirds of Republican respondents (68%) saying media coverage of the President is 'poor.'”