- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

“How much has the media’s obsession with the ongoing Russia investigation smothered the rest of the Trump policy agenda? A Media Research Center study of every broadcast network evening newscast in the five weeks since the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller on May 17 found a whopping 353 minutes of airtime devoted to the Russia probe — or 55 percent of all coverage of the Trump presidency during those weeks,” wrote Rich Noyes, a senior analyst for the conservative press watchdog.

In total, the study reviewed the content of 364 evening news stories on ABC, CBS and NBC which covered President Trump and other top administration officials; 171 of them were centered on the Russia probe.

The networks concentrated on the Russia matter at the expense of important policy topics. ABC, CBS and NBC collectively spent less less than five minutes each on economic policy, trade issues and U.S. relations with Cuba.

“The investigation garnered 20 times more attention than the new health care bill, 100 times more attention than the administration’s push to improve the nation’s infrastructure, and a stunning 450 times more coverage than the push for comprehensive tax reform,” Mr. Noyes said.

The three networks, in fact, collectively featured less the one minute of airtime on tax reform.

The study also found that a third of the Russia stories were based on anonymous sources, some of which later proved erroneous.

ABC’s “World News Tonight” was the most “enraptured” by the Russia story, devoting nearly two-thirds its Trump news on the subject. On “CBS Evening News,” it was 54 percent; on “NBC Nightly News,” it was 48 percent.

Mr. Noyes pointed to a new Harvard-Harris poll that found that a majority of voters believe the Russia investigations are damaging to the country and are eager to see Congress shift its focus to health care, terrorism, national security, the economy and jobs.

“Given the disconnect, it should be no surprise that half of all voters see the media as biased against Mr. Trump compared to only 4 percent who think the media are pro-Trump, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports survey,” Mr. Noyes added.

The study was conducted from May 17 to June 20.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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