Media obsesses over the ramblings of a former Miss Universe turned Trump-hater
Broadcast networks blew off gossip about a 20-year-old insult by Donald Trump in order to aggressively cover the latest developments in a Hillary Clinton scandal that touches on national security.
Just kidding. It was the other way around.
According to the Media Research Center, which tracks left-wing bias on television news, the morning news shows and evening broadcasts of the three broadcast networks have not spent a second on revelations on Sept. 23 that the FBI gave immunity to longtime Clinton confidante Cheryl Mills during its investigation of the home-brew server that Clinton had set up in the basement of her suburban New York home to bypass the government system.
The decision has drawn criticism because Mills at one time acted as Clinton’s lawyer and because she was one of five Clinton aides who received immunity for a case that ended without a single prosecution. But ABC, CBS, and NBC could not spare even a second of broadcast airtime to report the story.
Those same networks had plenty of time to report that Trump called former Miss Universe Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” over her weight and “Miss Housekeeping” in 1996 after she had won the contest. The networks combined have spent 19 minutes and 40 seconds on the story since Clinton alluded to the comments at the presidential debate Monday.
“If it’s a story that is embarrassing to Hillary or embarrassing to her campaign, they just won’t run it,” said Mike Ciandella, a research analyst who conducted the study for the Media Research Center.
Ciandella said it is hard to argue that an offensive remark by a candidate two decades ago is more important than a criminal investigation involving national security and the presidential nominee of a major political party.
“That’s a huge national issue involving an ongoing investigation,” he said. “It’s not a rude comment that happened 20 years ago.”
Ciandella said it can be difficult to draw conclusions about media bias from comparisons of how different stories in different news cycles are treated. He said there was only one story on Sept. 11, 2001, for instance. It would be understandable that another got shelved or downplayed on a day like that. But the revelations and coverage — or non-coverage — of the Mills immunity deal and Trump’s “Miss Piggy” comment played out during the same time period.
Ciandella noted that the networks gave airtime to plenty of fluff during those days, as well. ABC, for example, talked about former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on “Dancing with the Stars.”
“They have the time,” he said. “It’s just a question of how they choose to use it. And they choose not to use it to talk about Hillary.”