Every time we think we have seen the worst in media bias, we come across studies like the Media Research Center’s new report on the Big Three’s immigration coverage. The center’s director of media analysis, Tim Graham, confirms conservatives’ worst fears about ABC, CBS and NBC, as they recklessly go about their efforts to depict an America that simply doesn’t exist.
Mr. Graham and analysts reviewed 309 immigration stories from March 24 to May 31, or roughly the period between the first major immigration rally and passage of the Senate’s amnesty bill. The report found that in contrast to the networks’ universal agreement that the rallies were historic and represented a “Vietnam-era” movement, collectively they mentioned just 16 nationwide polls that “might include the opinion of the non-protesters.”
Occasionally, the networks simply ignored polls that disagreed with their pro-illegal immigrant framework. For instance, CBS never cited its poll findings that 87 percent (April 6-9) or 89 percent (May 4-8) of Americans said that the problem of illegal immigration was “very serious” or “somewhat serious.” NBC never cited its poll finding that 71 percent would be “more likely” to vote for a candidate “who favors tighter controls on illegal immigration.” While touting a Time magazine poll showing 79 percent of Americans in favor of a guest-worker program, none of the Big Three mentioned the poll’s finding that only 12 percent of respondents said the demonstrators made them more likely to endorse a guest-worker program, compared to 35 percent who said the protests made them more likely to favor laws to “make it crime” to enter or work in the country.
During the study period, advocates of amnesty and guest-worker programs drew 504 soundbites on the network news shows, compared to just 257 for those arguing for tighter border security. On the night of one large demonstration on April 10, the count on all three networks was 43-2 in favor of the protesters. On the large May 1 nationwide rally, it was 62-8.
When labeling groups and individuals, network reporters used the term “conservative” 89 times and “liberal” only three times. NBC never used “liberal” in its coverage, despite using “conservative” 45 times. On May 1, NBC’s Nightly News quoted one Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a rally organizer, without noting her membership in International ANSWER, a Communist organization. Similarly, a March 24 ABC story identified Teodoro Maus as a “community leader” without telling viewers he was Mexico’s consul general in Atlanta from 1998 to 2001.
It’s no wonder cable networks like Fox News and programs like CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” continue to attract viewers at the Big Three’s expense. Congress especially should take the Media Research Center’s report to heart and remember that network news is more like state-run TV in an authoritatian state than it’s like objective news — at least when it comes to reporting conservative opinion.
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