On July 18, Ricochet’s Jon Gabriel put together two sets of data that painted a clear picture of the media’s Russia narrative obsession. The graph was picked up by other right-of-center news outlets, and Trump administration officials brought up Gabriel’s work on the Sunday shows to defend the Trump administration. That’s when the Left’s thought police — you may know them as “fact checkers” — jumped in to attack Gabriel and his work.
First up, here’s the chart in question.
The chart was included in this story explaining what exactly he was trying to show. He juxtaposed a Bloomberg poll asking Americans what issues they cared most about with data from the Media Research Center showing how much time evening newscasts devoted to each issue. Here’s what he found.
Just 6 percent of Americans think Russia is the top issue, yet nightly newscasts devoted 75 percent of their airtime to the story. Meanwhile, Americans’ biggest concern, health care, only garnered 4 percent of the major networks’ total coverage.
The media have shown how drastically out of step they are with their own audience. If they want to earn back their hemorrhaging Nielsen numbers, perhaps they can spend time on something other than Russia Russia Russia.
When Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, echoed the remarks, PolitiFact, which often reads like PolitOpinion, chimed in.
The White House says the media is hostile to the president and is using some new evidence presented by a conservative blogger to make its case.
But that evidence is faulty.
On Fox News on Saturday, Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump’s top advisers, argued that the media blocks important White House messaging by covering issues the public sees as unimportant.
A pesky “conservative blogger,” at it again! But is Gabriel’s evidence “faulty?” Or does it just not fit PolitiFact’s biased opinions?
The counterpoints made by PolitiFact are thin and certainly not enough to rate the claim “mostly false.” First they blast the MRC study by saying it was narrow, only covering the three broadcast networks news casts and only for a month. And even so, the Trump Russia coverage was only 55 percent of all coverage in that time frame, not 75 percent. OK; your point? That’s still the majority of coverage, and an even greater percent of what was covered that wasn’t natural disasters, crime, or other major events non-political in nature.
Then PolitiFact went to what PolitiFact does best, using an “expert’s” opinion as fact. Here’s who they relied on in this case.
"A more extensive study would likely have somewhat different results of individual news outlets," said Stephen Farnsworth, director of University of Mary Washington's Center for Leadership and Media Studies. "One of the things you see when you compare newspapers with television is a much wider range of topics being discussed, much more material than in a 30-minute news broadcast."
Lucky for us, the MRC’s NewsBusters did more extensive studies. For instance, they found that a recent broadcast of CNN’s “New Day” spent 93 percent of its time on Russia. And to anyone paying attention to the news at all, it is undeniable that CNN and other outlets have been focused on Russia. Their personalities have even prodded Fox News to cover it more.
What's the lead tonight? On CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC: this afternoon's Senate hearing on Russia. On Fox: Obama's Sunday night speech 🤔 pic.twitter.com/yloGcU7062— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 9, 2017
Then PolitiFact compared apples to oranges regarding the Bloomberg poll.
Other polls show that Americans are interested in the Russia investigation. The question in the Bloomberg poll Conway referenced was not about the Russia investigation. Other polls suggest that Americans are interested in the investigation. A June poll by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 48 percent of people surveyed said they were extremely or very concerned that Trump or others involved with his campaign had inappropriate contacts with the Russian government during last year’s presidential campaign. Another 20 percent said they were moderately concerned.
What? So a poll that specifically asked a question on Russia got an answer that showed roughly half of those asked said they were concerned about Russia. Shocking. That still doesn’t explain that only six percent of those asked said it was the most important issue facing the nation. That’s the point: That Americans by and large don’t see Russia as the most important thing facing the country. But it is the most important thing the media thinks the country faces.
In their rush to debunk Gabriel, they proved his point: that he was telling the truth. Just not enough truth to move the needle past “mostly false.” This is par for the course with sites like PolitiFact, which rate conservatives and liberals differently all the time.
Gabriel said it another way. I’ll let him have the last word.
A PolitiFact® ranking of Mostly False™ = Conservative.— jon gabriel (@exjon) July 24, 2017
A PolitiFact® ranking of Pants on Fire™ = Alarmingly conservative.
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Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC. If you see something you’d like him to cover, tweet him @robeno.