NEWS AND OPINION:
Protective networks shield Biden
The “Big Three” broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — continue to shield President Biden from caustic coverage, according to an in-depth study conducted by Newsbusters.org.
The study examined evening newscasts that aired on the networks from Sept. 1 to Oct. 26, homing in on 115 stories focused solely on the midterm elections. The stories racked up a total airtime of 213 minutes.
“While President Trump was a huge focus of network coverage four years ago (accounting for 48% of all midterm campaign airtime in 2018, more than all of the individual House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates combined), the networks aren’t interested in targeting President Biden this year. Biden accounted for just 34 minutes of midterm coverage, just 16% of total campaign coverage,” wrote Rich Noyes, a senior editor for the conservative press watchdog.
“And there’s virtually no debate about the successes or failures of the Biden presidency, as one would normally expect. TV’s 2022 campaign stories included just nine evaluative comments about President Biden (two positive, seven negative, or 78% negative spin),” Mr. Noyes said.
“Four years ago, these same networks aired seven times as many evaluative comments about President Trump (9 positive vs. 54 negative, or 86% negative spin),” he wrote.
The research also found that the networks emphasized “the agenda favored by Democratic consultants” rather than voters, whose primary concern is the economy.
Unverified accusations that Republican Herschel Walker paid for two women’s abortions led the agenda focus, drawing almost 30 minutes of coverage in the study period. Abortion policy was in second place with 24 minutes, with economic issues and inflation getting 15 minutes of coverage.
“Viewers and voters seeking election news have more choices than ever, but even today, the Big Three remain uniquely powerful, with relatively large audiences (collectively, about 20 million viewers per night) of citizens who are not as ideologically established as the fans of wall-to-wall cable news,” Mr. Noyes wrote.
“There’s a danger in a powerful partisan media passing itself off as objective or centrist, when the reality is that the networks are now open advocates for the success of one party over the other,” he concluded.
A HELPFUL MESSAGE
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has been leading a get-out-the-vote tour through a dozen battleground states in recent days. She has a clear message for her fellow Republicans, delivered in a brief video shared with Inside the Beltway.
“We’re on a tour traveling the country to win back the Senate and the House. Between now and Election Day, work as hard as you can. You have to talk to your family, your friends, your coworkers, the people you go to church with. We are saving the United States of America, the greatest country, that we love,” Mrs. McDaniel advised.
Among those who also made appearances in the presentation: Sen. Rick Scott of Florida and Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, plus GOP senatorial hopefuls Herschel Walker of Georgia, J.D. Vance of Ohio and Ted Budd of North Carolina.
FOR THE LEXICON
This interesting term originated with New York Times political correspondent Jonathan Martin, who recalled the days when Joe Biden hit the campaign trail and ran for president.
“Biden was essentially an emergency nominee in 2020 because the entire criteria of the party — that was who could beat Trump — and he was obviously the answer.” Mr. Martin told CNN on Sunday.
“But there was not a lot of thought given to longer-term planning. So they now have a near 80-year-old incumbent president and they’re relying on somebody who was last on the ballot a decade ago to come in as their closer in the midterms,” Mr. Martin said.
Peter King — a Republican who represented New York in the U.S. House for 28 years — also has a thought or two about the volatile political landscape.
Mr. King reports that “virtually every poll” in the Empire State shows “a definite tightening of the governor’s race” as Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin closes in on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s previous average lead — which was 17 percentage points.
Her lead is now down to a range of 4 to 6 percentage points, with one poll actually showing Mr. Zeldin ahead.
“This Republican surge is being replicated around the state,” Mr. King said in an editorial for The Hill.
“The Democrats‘ failure to see beyond their progressive silos and address the life-threatening issues faced by everyday New Yorkers, combined with Lee Zeldin’s aggressive law-and-order campaign, is heading against all odds toward the election of New York’s first Republican governor in two decades. The people are speaking through the polls,” Mr. King concluded.
Fox News finished October by marking the 20th consecutive month as the leading network in the cable realm throughout both daytime hours and prime time, according to Nielsen Media Research.
During the day, Fox News drew an average of 1.5 million viewers; in prime time, the average audience was 2.3 million.
In comparison, rival MSNBC averaged 751,000 daytime viewers and 1.1 million in prime time; CNN attracted 533,000 daytime viewers and 624,000 in prime time.
Fox News also aired 98 of the top 100 cable news programs that month. Among the standouts: With 3.4 million viewers, “The Five” finished the month as the top cable news program, as it has done for 10 of the last 11 months. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” followed with an audience of 3.3 million, while “Hannity” scored 2.7 million.
POLL DU JOUR
• 59% of U.S. voters do not want former President Donald Trump to run for president in 2024; 28% of Republicans, 56% of independents and 88% of Democrats agree.
• 61% of women and 56% of men also agree.
• 25% overall want Mr. Trump to run for president in 2024; 54% of Republicans, 18% of independents and 8% of Democrats agree.
• 22% of women and 28% of men also agree.
• 17% overall are not sure about the issue; 19% of Republicans, 26% of independents and 4% of Democrats agree.
• 17% of women and 16% of men also agree.
SOURCE: A YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 22-25.
• Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin.