78% of CNN’s GOP primary coverage was devoted to Trump
Those tuned in to Wednesday night’s GOP debate hosted by CNN and Salem Media (though mostly CNN) were left wondering what happened to Scott Walker. To be fair, it’s a difficult, if not impossible task providing equal airtime to eleven people in any given debate setting.
CNN chose to lead with questions about what other contenders thought of Donald Trump. Time that should have been used testing candidates on policy knowledge and prodding their hypothetical handling of various scenarios, was spent goading them into attacking either Trump or one another.
A report released by the Media Research Center prior to Wednesday’s debate provides an explanation for CNN’s unusual line of questioning: CNN loves them some Trump.
The MRC analyzed CNN’s coverage of the Republican presidential primary and found that 78% of that total coverage was spent on Donald Trump. 7-8-%.
A Media Research Center study finds that, over a two week period, coverage of Donald Trump’s campaign took up nearly 78 percent of all CNN’s prime time GOP campaign coverage – 580 minutes out of a total of 747 minutes. All 16 non-Trump candidates got a combined total of just 167 minutes, much of which was spent comparing them to Trump. More than half of the remaining candidate coverage went to Jeb Bush with almost 12 percent (88 minutes). Twelve of the 17 candidates didn’t even break one percent of the coverage (although Rick Perry has since dropped out of the race, he was still a candidate during the time period analyzed).
To put that in perspective, Trump’s 580 minutes of coverage averages out to more than 25 percent of total programming for the ten days analyzed (after you subtract commercials, each hour-long broadcast takes up roughly 45 minutes).
This study looked at prime time (7pm through 11 pm) weekday news coverage on CNN for the two week period from August 24 to September 4, including Erin Burnett OutFront, Anderson Cooper 360 and CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (the 9pm hour was either a second hour of CNN Tonight or a second hour of AC360, depending on the day).
Three Trump campaign events were broadcast in their entirety during these two weeks, not including replays of press conferences that had already occurred. No press conferences for any of the other 16 candidates were broadcast. CNN even bumped its own special commemorating the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina to cover a Trump press conference in Iowa.
Even when other candidates were interviewed live on the network, Trump still dominated the air time. On the August 28 OutFront, Scott Walker was interviewed for 6 minutes, before a 12 minute, 34 second Trump press conference was broadcast live. Besides the press conference, Trump got more than 15 minutes additional minutes of coverage during that broadcast, while Walker only received an additional 7 seconds.
This same trend was evident in the total amount of time other candidates received when compared with the amount of time Trump was given:
Huge disparity in talking times. Amazing Carly got the third most time considering CNN was ready to leave her out. pic.twitter.com/UZ8ili3SaX
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) September 17, 2015
The result of this Trump-CNN-love-fest? Scott Walker was left in the cold. By my calculations, it took the debate moderators an hour and 44 minutes before they asked Walker one.single.question. Just one. Early on, Walker inserted himself into the discussion in an attempt to redirect the Trump-centric chatter to an issue-based conversation. Aside from being able to to respond to any direct mention, Walker was virtually shut out. He received a grand total of three questions during the entirety of a three hour debate.
CNN’s blacklisting didn’t stop Wednesday night. During a post-debate discussion on CNN this morning, Walker was excluded completely. Jim Geraghty at National Review wrote, “What is this, the silent treatment? Are they ignoring him, hoping he’ll go away?”
As for Walker’s campaign, they said they tried to make the most of the opportunities they had.
.@ScottWalker on getting 8 mins of talk time: "I was 2nd only to Carly in terms of interruptions…We tried to use quality over quantity."
— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) September 17, 2015
Staying positive, Walker’s camp continues to promote the Governor’s record and reiterate his standing as a tried, tested, and successful leader:
CNN’s end game is fairly simple to decipher: ratings. Focus on a self-professed entertainer and rabble-rouser, create on-stage, real-time drama, and people will tune in. It worked for CNN.
The Republican prime time debate had 22.9 million viewers, making it the most watched program in CNN history.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 17, 2015
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