From our “Why am I not surprised” file, the Media Research Center conducted a study of TV network news coverage during the shutdown and discovered that the coverage almost universally blamed Republicans.
“What those viewers heard,” according to the MRC analysis, “was a version of the shutdown story that could easily have emanated from Barack Obama’s own White House.”
“This current government shutdown traces its history back to a determined core of GOP House members who are vehemently against Obamacare and were willing to shut down the government because of it,” Brian Williams said on the Oct. 14 broadcast of “NBC Nightly News,” MRC’s Rich Noyes noted in a blog post announcing the study.
Of the 124 stories broadcast on the ABC, NBC and CBS nightly newscasts about the shutdown from Oct. 1 through Oct. 15, the study found 41 blamed Republicans or conservatives for the impasse, 17 blamed both sides and none specifically blamed Democrats.
In the two weeks leading up to the shutdown, the MRC said, the same networks ran 21 stories blaming Republicans, four blaming both sides and none blaming Democrats.
That’s 62 blaming Republicans and none blaming Democrats for those of you keeping score at home.
But those numbers mirror polls conducted before and during the shutdown, which found most Americans blamed the GOP for the shutdown. In one, 62 percent of respondents blamed Republicans for the shutdown, while less than half blamed Obama or the Democrats in Congress.
According to TruthRevolt.org, another conservative site, the slant against the GOP was equally evident in print. The Washington Post and New York Times, the site said, “covered victims of the government shutdown over victims of Obamacare by a margin of 100 to 1.”
Media Matters, the progressive research center that monitors conservative media, has yet to publish a similar study on the shutdown coverage.
The MRC study did not include cable news, which had mostly wall-to-wall coverage of the shutdown since it began on Oct. 1. CNN, for example, ran on-screen shutdown and debt ceiling deadline clocks for virtually the entire impasse and consistently featured interviews with moderate Republicans who disagreed with the tea party’s tactic.
Of course the polls would say it’s the GOP’s fault. Viewers had been told for weeks in advance that any shutdown would be the fault of Republicans. It’s no surprise, therefore, the viewers would hold the opinion they did.
I didn’t watch much cable coverage during the shutdown, largely because it’s so predictable. But what I saw was pretty rank. MSNBC was actually comical, taking the position that of course it was the GOP’s fault now how to we stifle these crazy peoplke?
Face it: THe GOP doesn’t do media strategy except to preach to the converted. The reason that the “moderates” were all over the news was because many conservatives refuse to even talk to CNN, MSNBC, or the networks. That’s a mistake. At the very least, a record must be established that counters the dominant narrrative. It may not sway a lot of people, but it never hurts to get your message out.