Special Reports

Learning from an existing system Study parameters In the initial Social Security study, first published in April 2005, the Business & Media Institute examined the evening news programs on all five major networks - ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News Channel and CNN - between Nov. 15, 2004, and March 15, 2005. This time frame covered the heart of President George W. Bush's proposal to reform Social Security from soon after his re-election through the launch of his '60 stops in 60 days' campaign. The study analyzed use of liberal and conservative talking points, focusing on 125 stories mostly or completely... continue reading
See Full Study Social Security has been the most debated domestic issue of George W. Bush’s second term. Baby boomers begin retiring as early as 2008, and the nation’s retirement system faces an income shortfall beginning as early as 2017, according to the Social Security Administration. President Bush has called for personal accounts that would restructure the system to combat this looming problem. Social Security coverage on the five major networks has been overwhelmingly against personal accounts – by a margin of 2 to 1. Four of the five gave more air time to the liberal position than to explaining... continue reading
See Executive Summary In the Social Security reform debate, liberals have promised 'guaranteed' tax-funded benefits. Conservatives have warned that the outdated retirement program is nearing guaranteed bankruptcy. But the only real guarantee in this debate is that network news has been biased toward the liberal viewpoint. A new study from the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute found Social Security coverage on the five major networks biased toward the left by a margin of 2 to 1. In total, 44 percent of the 125 stories studied were liberally slanted compared to just 22 percent that were conservative. An April... 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
See Full Study Accounting scandals have become bread-and-butter stories for journalists. But one of the biggest accounting debacles in recent history has gone virtually unnoticed by the TV news. Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage association, has accounting errors of about $11 billion. That’s more than 19 times larger than Enron’s $567 million error. Yet a Justice Department inquiry, SEC investigation, and Office of Federal Housing Enterprise complaint were not enough to get the attention of the networks that rarely mentioned the Fannie Mae scandal. Unlike Enron, Fannie Mae has strong governmental ties and is perceived as helping the poor. Are... continue reading
See Executive Summary It's a familiar story. An enormous company reveals its 'accounting problems.' The problems are found to be far worse than anyone realized. The CEO is forced to resign. Other high-ranking executives follow. The stock price begins to drop. Billions of dollars might be lost. The politically savvy CEO even has direct connections to a presidential administration. If the word 'Enron' has formed in your mind, you'd be close, but wrong. Welcome to Fannie Mae, the nation's second-largest financial company. Only Fannie Mae, officially known as the Federal National Mortgage Association, isn't like any standard Wall Street business... 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
See Full Study Diet and obesity continue to weigh heavily on the minds of Americans. Those concerns have carried over to the news media, but the coverage takes on a strong anti-business slant, as if businesses and advertisers were responsible for obesity. Earlier this year, the MRC’s Business & Media Institute released a study showing a significant anti-corporate trend in the major media’s food reporting. Journalists are providing more coverage of individual responsibility as a cause of obesity, but this report documents extensive bias and misinformation in media coverage of the issue. The original BMI study analyzed all 205 news... continue reading
See Executive Summary Obesity has become one of the most commonplace health issues covered by the mainstream media. This summer, networks and newspapers were full of stories on fad diets, recipes and overweight adults trying to lose weight, Time magazine and ABC News even sponsored a national “Summit on Obesity” in early June to much fanfare, but questionable journalistic result. Through it all, one thing remained clear: The media presented an anti-business viewpoint in their coverage of obesity. In addition, the stories cited alarmist and inconsistent statistics about the size of the weight problem in young people. In several cases,... continue reading
See Full Study For nearly four years, network news programs have presented a skewed view of global warming and the Kyoto treaty that liberal environmentalists claim would cure it. Those same newscasts have all-but ignored the negative economic consequences that ratifying Kyoto would have on the U.S. The network coverage also largely ignored scientific evidence questioning global warming theory, while touting dramatic claims of liberal environmental activists. To document how network news has slanted the global warming debate, researchers with the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute analyzed all 165 news stories about global warming aired on the three... continue reading