WashPost’s Wemple Brings the Numbers to Needle Brian Stelter About CNN’s Partisan Filter

Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple reported some specifics of a new study on cable-news tilt – and needled CNN host Brian Stelter on how he couldn’t handle the idea that a professor would come on his CNN show and posit that CNN was a partisan filter like Fox News. 

Academics David Broockman and Joshua Kalla were invited on Stelter’s show after they wrote a journal article on an experiment where they paid Fox News viewers $15 an hour (seven hours a week) to watch CNN for a month in September 2020. The viewers in the study discovered that Fox News was ignoring or downplaying news that made Republicans look bad, or make Democrats look good. Stelter heard Kalla tell Stelter that the study showed that both networks were engaging in partisan coverage filtering. It’s not about one side, it’s about the media writ large.”

Stelter argued that it was an attempt to combine both sidesism. The report contains data about the discrepancy. Donald Trump was the president of the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and signed normalization agreements on Sept. 15, 2020. “After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said at the ceremony.

Fox News’s shows from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. aired 1,278 words in coverage. CNN’s coverage was just 84 words..

Wemple said “The study’s focus on prime-time shows is logical, considering that’s where the big viewer numbers stack up,” but “it does bear mentioning that according to a Nexis search, CNN did produce significant coverage of the Abraham Accords at other times and on other platforms.”

You should ask Stelter whether he read that journal article which stated clearly that Fox News and CNN were both partisan. The professors paid CNN viewers $15 per hour for Fox News coverage. It is possible to imagine that lefties might demand higher wages for Fox News viewing. 

Kalla, Stelter’s professor, provided more examples of partisan disagreements. 

In a chat with the Erik Wemple Blog, Kalla cited another news category from the study’s time period (Aug. 31 to Sept. 25, 2020): “Democratic elites violating COVID restrictions,” coverage primarily focused on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s rule-breaking visit to a San Francisco salon. Fox News’s shows covered the topic with 2,464 words, while CNN’s tallied 209 words.

“What we’re showing is that CNN does engage partisan coverage filtering. They should be aware of that and can do better as a network,” Kalla told the Erik Wemple Blog.

Wemple concluded by citing one of the study’s respondents, who said, “You have to watch some of all the lying a– media to get anything resembling the whole story.” This theory would also apply to reading more than one newspaper in the District of Columbia.

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