Even before Friday’s long-awaited release of a memo detailing alleged abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department during the 2016 campaign, Republican members of Congress had dropped a deluge of hints about its contents.
But viewers of the three major television news broadcasters would hardly know it. The Big Three networks were far more interested in reporting Democrats’ arguments against making the document public, according to a study by the Media Research Center (MRC).
The conservative-leaning media watchdog found that from Monday — when the House Intelligence Committee voted to make the document public — through Thursday, ABC, CBS and NBC spent a combined 17 minutes and 20 seconds on complaints raised by Democrats and FBI pleas to keep the memo classified.
The networks devoted only four minutes and 54 seconds to the subject matter of the memo itself.
Republican staffers on the committee prepared the four-page memo summarizing classified information that accuses senior officials at the Justice Department and the FBI of using a questionable dossier paid for by President Donald Trump’s political opponents to get permission from a judge to conduct surveillance of his campaign.
“This explosive memo exposes a disturbing and unprecedented agenda within the FBI and DOJ against President Trump and his 2016 campaign,” Media Research Center President Brent Bozell said in a statement. “The information contained in this memo constitutes a bombshell story by any objective measure. How in the world does this not merit Watergate-like media coverage?!”
The study indicates that ABC and CBS did not bother even to cover the vote on Monday to release the memo. “NBC Nightly News” did cover the vote, but gave only 36 seconds to abuse-of-power allegations while spending the rest of the two-minute segment on fears about negative consequences that would result from making the memo public.
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All three networks covered the issue on their newscasts prior to the State of the Union address, with the vast majority of time devoted to questioning the motives of Republicans and claims of damage to national security that could result.
“TV news have spent nearly 100 hours covering the investigation into alleged ‘collusion’ between Russia and the Trump campaign. It was the number-one news story in 2017, yet there wasn’t a lick of evidence,” Bozell stated.
“This is proof the media only lend credibility to controversies that are damaging to Republicans and President Trump. The media are abdicating their responsibility to accurately inform the American public.”
Bozell added that the media owe a duty to fairly and truthfully cover the story now that the memo is public.
“We have witnessed over a year of an unparalleled, deliberate effort by the press to remove a president they despise, and it is time they are held accountable,” he said.