MRC Study: ABC, CBS, NBC Midterms Coverage is 87% Negative for Republicans

Peyton Holliday | November 4, 2022 | 12:55pm EDT
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(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(CNS News) – A new Media Research Center (MRC) study analyzing the network news’ coverage of the midterm political races showed that coverage was 87% negative for Republicans and 67% negative for Democrats. However, the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news shows gave Democrats 33% positive coverage and Republicans only 13% positive coverage. 

The MRC study tallied all clearly positive and negative statements from non-partisan sources (in other words, reporters, anchors, voters and other unaffiliated sources) on the evening news shows of ABC, CBS, and NBC from Sept. 1 to Oct. 26.


According to the report, “the Big Three evening newscasts aired 115 stories which mentioned or discussed the midterm elections during, with a total airtime of 213 minutes, or about 60 percent more than the 130 minutes” from a similar MRC study done for the 2018 midterm elections.

The key findings showed that the networks are burying news about Biden. “While President Trump was a huge focus of network coverage four years ago -- accounting for 48% all midterm campaign airtime in 2018, more than all of the individual House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates combined) -- the networks aren’t interested in targeting President Biden this year,” reads the study. “Biden accounted for just 34 minutes of midterm coverage, just 16 percent of total campaign coverage.”

Also, the nets are blasting Republicans. “Overall this fall, Democrats (including President Biden) drew 13 positive comments vs. 26 negative ones, for a 67% negative spin,” reported the MRC.  “That’s not great, but not nearly as bad as Republicans, who were slammed with 94 negative comments vs. 14 positive statements, a spin score of 87 percent negative — and virtually identical to the 88 percent negative spin for the whole GOP (including Trump) in 2018.”


The nets spent a lot of time showcasing the Democrats’ agenda. For instance, “While voters consistently ranked the economy and inflation as the most important issues this fall, the broadcast networks’ campaign coverage instead emphasized the agenda favored by Democratic consultants,” reads the study.

“Thus, the economy was only the fifth-most cited issue within these midterm stories, with 15 minutes of airtime,” reported the MRC. “That’s barely half of what was spent on anonymous and unverified allegations that GOP candidate Herschel Walker years ago paid for two women’s abortions, charges that Walker vehemently denied.”

“Combined with the abortion-related allegations against Walker, abortion was the focus of 54 minutes of airtime, or about one-fourth of all midterm news,” said the MRC.  “Yet a September Gallup poll found only four percent of voters named abortion as the “most important problem” facing the country, vs. 38 percent who named an economic issue.”

The Big Three networks – ABC, CBS, NBC -- are “uniquely powerful, with relatively large audiences (collectively, about 20 million viewers per night) of citizens who are not as ideologically-established as the fans of wall-to-wall cable news,” said the MRC.  

“So while the establishment media fret about dangers to democracy, there’s a danger in a powerful partisan media passing itself off as objective or centrist, when the reality is that the networks are now open advocates for the success of one party over the other,” concluded the report.

(Disclosure: CNS is a division of the Media Research Center.)  

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