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Cheerleaders for the Revolution
Network Coverage of Barack Obama’s First 100 Days


Full Report  |  PDF Version

 During his first 100 days as President, Barack Obama has pushed an audaciously liberal agenda which, if enacted, would have radical consequences for America for decades. With Democrats enjoying monopoly control of the House and Senate, the news media have a professional duty to scrutinize those policies, and give audiences both sides of the story — not just the perspective of a powerful Chief Executive.

Unfortunately, a Media Research Center analysis of ABC, CBS and NBC evening news coverage of President Obama’s first 100 days in office shows network reporters have failed as watchdogs. The networks have raised few doubts about Obama’s left-wing agenda and showered each of Obama’s major policy initiatives with positive press.

MRC analysts looked at all 982 broadcast evening news stories about Obama and his administration from Inauguration Day (January 20) through April 29. Key findings:

  • Obama’s first 100 days were defined by massive spending, aggressive intervention in the private sector and proposals for a huge expansion of the federal government. Yet none of the networks aired a single story on whether Obama’s policies were pushing the U.S. toward socialism, and no reporter used the term “socialist” to describe Obama.
  • Not only that, network reporters never used the word “liberal” to describe either Barack Obama or his agenda during the first 100 days.
  • The networks lavished good press on every major initiative of the early Obama administration, including the massive stimulus package, all of the various bailouts, health care, stem cells, the environment and foreign policy.
  • In the days before the President unveiled his unprecedented $3.5 trillion budget — with a record-shattering $1.75 trillion deficit — four out of five statements on the evening newscasts parroted the White House spin that Obama was a deficit fighter.
  • Reporters treated Obama’s hugely expensive $787 billion stimulus bill to mainly positive coverage (58 percent positive, 42 percent negative).
  • The networks applauded Obama’s decision to use taxpayer money to fund embryo-destroying stem cell research (82% positive coverage).
  • Network coverage of Obama’s mortgage bailout was also positive — 59% of statements supported the bailout or wanted even more intervention, compared to 41% who opposed the bailout as unfair to responsible homeowners.
  • Reporters heavily skewed their coverage in favor of the President’s actions on global warming (78% positive).
  • President Obama’s decision to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan was greeted by nearly unanimous (91%) positive coverage — a far cry from the highly negative coverage of President Bush’s successful troop surge in Iraq two years ago.
  • Like Obama and the Democrats, the networks went on a feeding frenzy against big corporate bonuses. The networks aired six times more statements forwarding the “infuriated” reaction to business (104) than criticized politicians’ grandstanding (16).

The networks spent days decrying AIG’s $165 million bonuses, but hardly mentioned the $210 million in bonuses handed out by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the bailed-out mortgage giants with strong Democratic ties). ABC and NBC completely ignored the Fannie and Freddie bonuses, while the CBS Evening News gave it 27 seconds.

Such highly promotional coverage is not part of the normal “honeymoon” that exists between journalists and new Presidents. Rather, it seems to be a symptom of how few network reporters evidently see their professional role as operating on the public’s behalf as a check on whoever is in the White House.

The longstanding liberalism of network reporters made them aggressive adversaries of the Bush White House over the past eight years. The evidence from Barack Obama’s first 100 days is that that same liberal mindset has crippled reporters’ ability to be effective watchdogs on behalf of the public.

The once-fierce media watchdogs have become Barack Obama’s drooling, tail-wagging lapdogs.


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