Special Reports

Executive Summary High-circulation women's and family magazines use most of their ink to focus on lifestyle issues -- relationships between dating and married couples, parenting, home decorating, fashions and personal care, and dieting. Surprisingly, many also deal with public policy issues relating to government activism and women's and families' health and safety. A joint Consumer Alert / Media Research Center study of 13 women's and family magazines analyzed the October 1995 through September 1996 issues for their policy-oriented coverage. Part I of the study reviewed whether expansion of government programs was depicted positively or negatively. Part II looked at the... continue reading
Executive Summary What kind of messages about business and the American workplace does prime time tele-vision send to viewers? To find out, the Free Market Project of the Media Research Center (MRC) analyzed 17 weeks of prime time fare over 26 months -- a total of 863 sitcoms, dramas, and made-for-TV movies on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. The MRC found that: TV businessmen commit more crimes than those in any other occupation. Of the 514 criminals on TV during the study period, 150 (29.2 percent) were business owners or executives. Only 50 (9.7 percent) were career criminals. Twenty-one doctors... continue reading
Executive Summary According to the National Council on Economic Education, 79 percent of Americans get their information about the economy from television. When the network news shows fail to provide context in economic stories or simply leave basic economic facts out of their reports, most Americans remain uninformed. Timothy Lamer, Director of the MRC's Free Market Project, identified five important economic facts that network reporters routinely ignore: The wealthiest Americans pay most of the federal income taxes. Reporters often repeat claims that tax reform will mainly help the wealthiest in society, without providing context -- specifically that the top one... continue reading
Executive Summary Polls from groups as diverse as Greenpeace and Citizens for a Sound Economy show that most climate scientists are skeptical of claims that the climate change of the 20th century has been a result of greenhouse gas emissions. This is news to network reporters. A study from the MRC's Free Market Project demonstrates that over the past five years reporters have presented a highly distorted picture of the global warming debate. Specifically, researchers found: 1) Thirty-nine of the 48 network evening news stories during the study period simply assumed that science supports global warming theories. Only seven stories... continue reading
Executive Summary Major media figures reprimanded themselves for going "too far" with too little information on the Monica Lewinsky story. But a Media Research Center analysis of past TV coverage by Tim Graham presents five Clinton practices that deserve investigation in the Lewinsky case that the network news has downplayed or ignored in non-sexual scandals: Hush Money for Friendly Witnesses. Before disgraced former Associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell testified before Whitewater counsel Kenneth Starr, he gained a half-million dollars in "jobs" secured by Clinton friends. The story drew only six full nightly news stories. Destruction or Hiding of Documents. Last... continue reading
Executive Summary A recent Wall Street Journal /NBC News poll, reported in the April 9 Wall Street Journal , asked Americans which they would prefer: a candidate who advocates cutting taxes, or a candidate who favors more spending on education and child care. Only 39 percent preferred a tax-cutting candidate, while 55 percent wanted a candidate who would spend more money. One possible explanation for the relatively low popularity of tax cuts is that they get bad press. Network news reports generally portray tax cut proposals as election-year sops to the wealthy at the expense of the poor. And viewers... continue reading
Executive Summary When Hillary Rodham Clinton urged the media to investigate the "vast right-wing conspiracy" against her husband, the donations of Richard M. Scaife became the subject of unusual media scrutiny. Scaife drew controversy not by funding conservative policy analysis, but by funding investigative journalism which reflected badly on the President. Investigative journalism on the the President was considered an essential civic duty in the Reagan years. Current reporting suggests it’s just the opposite. Is there a double standard? A Media Research Center analysis by Director of Media Analysis Tim Graham reviewed TV news coverage of the Scaife controversy and... continue reading
Executive Summary The January 21, 1998 version of this Special Report has been updated with additional research and analysis. The MRC re-released the revised copy on July 22, 1998. As the 25th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade fades and the Congress and President engage in another passage-and-veto cycle on partial-birth abortions, the Media Research Center asked: Do the national media report fairly on abortion? In a broad overview of five years of studies, a team of MRC media analysts has documented five ways in which the media tilt the abortion story: 1. One side is presented as ideological, the other... continue reading
Executive Summary May 14, 1999, updated from April 26 edition: If TV anchors regularly suggest viewers should worry about everyday threats like spoiled hamburgers or "monster" sport utility vehicles, why can’t they report on the threat posed by the Chinese theft of secrets that may make their nuclear missiles arrive with better aim and increased deadliness? The nation’s most prestigious newspapers have published scoop after scoop detailing the connections between Chinese contributions and espionage efforts, and ABC, CBS and NBC have aired next to nothing about them on their morning and evening shows. The Media Research Center found the networks’... continue reading
Executive Summary In a study of nearly three months of network and news magazine coverage, the Media Research Center found that despite the suggestion that the national media's only bias is in favor of "a good story," the Whitewater story ­­ indictments, convictions, Senate hearings, and all ­­ is still the story reporters love to hate. The lack of coverage is matched by the disparaging tone members of the media have displayed toward Whitewater over the past few months. A representative sampling of these follows on page two. First, among the study findings: From February 29 to May 20, the... continue reading