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A Media Research Center report comparing airtime given to both Republican and Democratic candidates by the top three cable new networks is drawing plenty of scrutiny, but it may not be for the right reasons.
The ultimate takeaway from the analysis suggests Democrat candidates are still afraid to appear on Fox News, despite the network’s dominance in ratings.
Based on the totals reflected, MSNBC appears to be the most balanced of the networks, both in coverage of the candidates within each party and in comparison with the opposing party. But Fox News is playing with a significant handicap here when Democrats all but refuse to appear on the network.
CNN, which doesn’t share that problem, may have some explaining to do.
At the same time, Republican candidates have been more than willing to appear in the often unfriendly confines of left-leaning MSNBC, as well as on CNN.
The analysis showed that MSNBC and CNN have given Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’s campaigns nearly equal airtime:
Republican candidates have not fared as well, with GOP front-runner Donald Trump leading rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich in airtime. In the networks’ defense, Trump consistently delivers ratings.
It’s worth noting that Trump shied away from MSNBC following the March 30 town hall with Chris Matthews where he stumbled over a question on abortion, having to later reverse himself after saying women who undergo the procedure should face “some form of punishment” if abortions are outlawed.
It’s likely that Fox News would dispute several factors in the analysis, including the 7 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. time frame that excludes “Special Report with Bret Baier,” which airs at 6:00 p.m. The study was limited from March 21 to April 15.
It doesn’t help matters that MRC had to adjust the numbers after originally missing a segment on Fox News featuring a Hillary Clinton supporter.
“These statistics, of course, only reflect airtime for presidential candidates and their surrogates, not overall coverage of the campaigns,” MRC noted.
Which may be another point of contention with Fox News, given that senior White House correspondent Ed Henry regularly reports on the Clinton campaign.
The analysis reportedly included debates and offers by Fox News to host a debate have been rebuffed by the Democratic Party.
According to The New York Times, Michael Clemente, the executive vice president of news at Fox News, continually asked the Democratic National Committee to let his network host a debate, but was told “no, no, no.”
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