Alexandria, VAA new study
released today by the Media Research Center, TVs Bad News Brigade,
reveals the three commercial network nightly news broadcasts have
been overwhelmingly biased in their coverage of Iraq. The MRC
analyzed all broadcasts of ABCs World News Tonight, NBC Nightly
News, and the CBS Evening News from January 1 through September 30
and found 61 percent of the stories were negative or pessimistic
while only 15 percent of the stories were positive or optimistic a
four-to-one ratio. The trend in coverage has also become
increasingly negative during 2005, with pessimistic stories rising
to nearly three-fourths of all Iraq news by August and September.
The MRC will release a study on cable news coverage early next year.
The big three nightly newscasts have become megaphones for the anti-war movement, Bozell said. Coverage is badly skewed toward terrorist attacks instead of the bravery of the troops and progress made by the Iraqi government. The nightly network newscasts have become propaganda for the far-left anti-war movement instead of balanced journalism.
Network coverage has been overwhelmingly pessimistic. More than half of all stories (848, or 61%) focused on negative topics or presented a pessimistic analysis of the situation, four times as many as featured U.S. or Iraqi achievements or offered an optimistic assessment (just 211 stories, or 15%).
News about the war has grown increasingly negative. In January and February, about a fifth of all network stories (21%) struck a hopeful note, while just over half presented a negative slant on the situation. By August and September, positive stories had fallen to a measly seven percent and the percentage of bad news stories swelled to 73 percent of all Iraq news, a ten-to-one disparity.
Terrorist attacks are the centerpiece of TVs war news. Two out of every five network evening news stories (564) featured car bombings, assassinations, kidnappings or other attacks launched by the terrorists against the Iraqi people or coalition forces, more than any other topic.
Even coverage of the Iraqi political process has been negative. More stories (124) focused on shortcomings in Iraqs political process the danger of bloodshed during the January elections, political infighting among politicians, and fears that the new Iraqi constitution might spur more civil strife than found optimism in the Iraqi peoples historic march to democracy (92 stories). One-third of those optimistic stories (32) appeared on just two nights January 30 and 31, just after Iraqs first successful elections.
Few stories focused on the heroism or generous actions of American soldiers. Just eight stories were devoted to recounting episodes of heroism or valor by U.S. troops, and another nine stories featured instances when soldiers reached out to help the Iraqi people. In contrast, 79 stories focused on allegations of combat mistakes or outright misconduct on the part of U.S. military personnel.
Its not as if there was no good news to report. NBCs cameras found a bullish stock market and a hiring boom in Baghdads business district, ABC showcased the coalitions successful effort to bring peace to a Baghdad thoroughfare once branded Death Street, and CBS documented how the onetime battleground of Sadr City is now quiet and citizens are beginning to benefit from improved public services. Stories describing U.S. and Iraqi achievements provided essential context to the discouraging drumbeat of daily news, but were unfortunately just a small sliver of TVs Iraq news.
To schedule an interview with MRC President Brent Bozell or another MRC spokesperson, please contact Tim Scheiderer at 703.683.5004 x. 126.