Special Reports

Executive Summary In times of war, the media grow skeptical of the American government’s role in controlling the flow of information. But the American people are also concerned about the media’s control of the flow of information. Will they act as a neutral observers, devoted to balance and accuracy? Or will they play an activist’s role in undermining our government’s effectiveness in waging war? During a January 17 Nightline/Viewpoint special, ABC News President David Westin explained why he banned the wearing of flag pins by his reporters: “I think our patriotic duty as journalists in the United States is to... continue reading
Executive Summary While it only lasted about three weeks, the second Gulf War was an unqualified success. But what about TV coverage of the war? While the media covered many aspects of the war fairly well — reports from embedded journalists were refreshingly factual and were mostly devoid of commentary — television’s war news was plagued by the same problems detected during previous conflicts: too little skepticism of enemy propaganda, too much mindless negativism about America’s military prospects, and a reluctance on the part of most networks to challenge the premises of the anti-war movement or expose its radical agenda... continue reading
Executive Summary In recent months, a number of dramatic religious stories have unfolded, from religious freedom in Iraq, to the installation of an openly gay bishop to the religious and commercial phenomenon around Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ . To measure the upsurge in religion coverage in 2003 and the beginning of 2004, Media Research Center analysts surveyed every religion news story on ABC, CBS, and NBC news programs in the 12 months from March 1, 2003 through February 29, 2004. We then compared those numbers to MRC’s first religion news study of 1993. The major findings... continue reading
Executive Summary In a commemorative issue published the weekend Ronald Reagan died, Time magazine described the former President as “a man with the power to pull history around a corner” and “change the conversation of our politics and culture as much by the sheer force of his personality as by the power of his ideas.” The national media’s often gracious coverage in the days after Reagan’s death obscured the unfortunate historical record of media coverage: a chronicle often filled with not just disagreement, but with disgust, hatred, ridicule, and insults. Below are listed five categories the Media Research Center has... continue reading
Executive Summary Over the next four months, the media establishment will play a central role in informing the public about the candidates and the issues. As the countdown to Election Day begins, it is important to remember the journalists who will help establish the campaign agenda are not an all-American mix of Democrats, Republicans and independents, but an elite group whose views veer sharply to the left. Surveys over the past 25 years have consistently found that journalists are more liberal than rest of America. This MRC Special Report summarizes the relevant data on journalist attitudes, as well as polling... continue reading
Executive Summary In a fit of candor back in July, Evan Thomas, Newsweek ’s Assistant Managing Editor, blurted out the truth: most reporters want President George W. Bush to lose and John Kerry to win. Appearing on the syndicated program Inside Washington July 10, Thomas zeroed in on the adoring coverage most in the media, including his own magazine, were awarding John Kerry and John Edwards. “The media, I think, wants Kerry to win,” Thomas explained. “And I think they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards — I’m talking about the establishment media, not Fox — but they’re going to... continue reading
Executive Summary While every other country in the Western Hemisphere moved towards democracy, Cuba has remained a one-party state under dictator Fidel Castro, who held power without free elections from 1959 until health problems forced him to step aside in 2006. Castro's communist regime has executed hundreds of political opponents and driven tens of thousands more into exile; hundreds of dissidents today languish in Cuban prisons. The U.S. State Department , Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all listed Castro’s Cuba as among the worst violators of human rights on the planet, while the Committee to Protect Journalists has... continue reading
Executive Summary After all the dramatic events of last year’s religion news, from the installation of an openly gay bishop and the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s historic pontificate to Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ , religion coverage on the broadcast TV networks could be expected to decline. To measure the trends in religion coverage in 2004 and the beginning of 2005, Media Research Center analysts surveyed every religion news story on ABC, CBS, and NBC news programs in the 12 months from March 1, 2003 through February 29, 2004. Major findings include: The trend... continue reading
Executive Summary As in last year’s coverage of the death of President Ronald Reagan, the national media offered Pope John Paul II a generous farewell, highlighting his positive role in ending the Cold War, building bridges to other faiths, and inspiring Catholics in his energetic travels. But the positive coverage did not match the usual pattern of papal coverage over the decades of his pontificate (1978-2005). In the typically secular and political approach of the networks, John Paul was portrayed during his life as positive or negative depending on whose political side he landed on. On internal church matters over... continue reading
Executive Summary Ever since the United States and an international coalition toppled Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in the spring of 2003, the Iraq war has dominated network newscasts. Since then, there’s been a lot of undeniably bad news, as terrorists have launched a savage campaign to thwart efforts to establish democracy in a major Arab state. But are network reporters giving the public an inordinately gloomy portrait of the situation, as some critics charge? Are the positive accomplishments of U.S. soldiers and Iraq’s new democratic leaders being lost in a news agenda dominated by assassinations, car bombings and casualty reports? The... continue reading