Bias by the Numbers

Prominent scientists say genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are vital to feeding the world and solving undernourishment, but the broadcast networks were more focused on unproven claims about their “potential health risk.” GMOs are back in the news since Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., proposed legislation “that keeps states from regulating food with genetically modified ingredients,” The Hill reported June 15. While politicians debate GMO regulation, proponents say GMOs allow “farmers to produce more food,” use fewer chemicals, and conserve resources. But in more than a year of coverage, 78 percent (25 out of 32) of the broadcast news networks’ stories and... continue reading
Media coverage of food has become as tough to swallow as a piece of gristle. Cholesterol, food dyes, salt and more dominate headlines -- even though news stories often can’t decide if those things are good or bad for us. Now the Obama administration is moving to practically ban trans fat, an ingredient once promoted as a “ health product .” This follows some embarrassing disclosures about how salt might be far safer than Americans have been led to believe. Journalists and regulators have been critical of salt for years. Two government departments have told the public through their Dietary... continue reading
Climate change is “damn serious,” according to California Gov. Jerry Brown, who has repeatedly blamed it for the state’s four-year drought. Even without “definitive evidence” to back that up the network news media repeated it. What the networks refused to repeat was criticism about environmental regulations and other government failures. ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows aired 188 drought stories and completely ignored environmental regulations that have worsened the crisis by sending massive quantities of water out to sea. According to The Wall Street Journal , tens of billions of gallons of water have been lost thanks to regulations... continue reading
Thanks in part to the widespread use of technologies like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, global oil prices plummeted in 2014. Energy experts even predicted the U.S. could be the top oil producer in the next several years. While even President Barack Obama recently hinted at his support for hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, the broadcast networks often portrayed it negatively. Between Sept. 29 and Dec. 8, the networks’ evening news shows stories about oil and gas largely ignored fracking’s contribution to lower prices. Fracking and other advanced technologies helped the U.S. nearly double its average daily output of... continue reading
The Republican “wave” in the Nov. 4, 2014, midterm elections had many reasons, but at least one was dissatisfaction with the economy. While, the three broadcast networks acknowledged the elections were bad for Democrats, they mostly ignored the economy and its impact on the election. Instead, now that Republicans hold a majority of seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the networks have chosen to preach bipartisanship. Nearly half of voters said the economy was the most important issue to them this election, and 70 percent of voters said the economy was “not so good or poor,” according... continue reading
On Sunday morning, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd appeared on NBC’s Today to discuss the politics of Ebola in the upcoming midterm elections. Speaking to co-host Lester Holt, Todd channeled the concerns of the Obama administration following decisions made by Governors Chris Christie, Pat Quinn and Andrew Cuomo to institute mandatory quarantines to anyone who came in contact with an Ebola patient. The Meet the Press moderator insisted that the White House isn't “supporting the decisions that they've made. They’re very concerned about these mandatory quarantines.” Todd made his comments in response to Lester Holt arguing that the issue... continue reading
Obama has been a champion of equal pay for women, at least according to his administration and the network news media. The broadcast networks boosted his image on the subject throughout his presidency, from the first bill he signed into law in 2009 to a September 2014 speech mentioning “equal pay.” ABC said Obama waged an “assault” on the pay gap with an executive order over salary disclosures, while CBS said he “boosts equal pay for women.” The networks credited Obama with signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which would allow women more time to sue employers for unfair compensation. Stories... continue reading
Is the U.S. government doing enough to screen travelers potentially carrying Ebola into the country? That question was ignored by the vast majority of stories on the three broadcast network’s news programming, even after Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola after coming to the U.S. from Liberia. Duncan died from the disease in a Dallas hospital on Oct. 8. “Duncan passed an airport health screening in Liberia, where his temperature registered as normal and he showed no signs of Ebola symptoms. But a few days after he arrived, he began to have a fever, headache and abdominal pain,” Associated... continue reading
In spite of revelations in recent months the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mishandled strains of deadly bird flu, anthrax and botulism, the broadcast networks remained confident the government’s “disease detectives” could handle the Ebola outbreak. On Sept. 30, the CDC announced that a patient in Texas was the first instance of Ebola in the U.S. But from the very beginning of the Ebola outbreak in March 2014, networks’ evening news programs have demonstrated their resounding faith in the capability of the CDC by ignoring agency failures in 98 percent of stories (53 of 54). Contradicting their previous coverage of... continue reading
The Obama administration continues its push to regulate for-profit colleges and national media outlets have joined in and overwhelmingly taken the side of bigger government. Three top newspapers – The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and USA Today – portrayed for-profit education negatively by a factor of 15-1 in roughly three years of news coverage. The outlets have been laying the groundwork for more regulations, repeatedly painting for-profit education as a problem in need of solutions. The industry has been criticized for “exploitive and fraudulent practices” that “prey on veterans with misleading ads.” The colleges were bashed for... continue reading