Evening newscasts on ABC, CBS, NBC are far more likely to criticize Republican governors than the Biden administration when covering the border crisis, according to a new study.
The September U.S. Customs and Border Protection data recently revealed fiscal year 2022 ended with 2.37 million migrant encounters, the highest ever recorded in a fiscal year. This figure does not include the 599,000 known “gotaways” that CBP sources told Fox News evaded capture in the fiscal year 2022.
The Media Research Center analyzed the evening newscasts on the three major broadcast networks and found that “CBS Evening News,” ABC’s “World News Tonight” and “NBC Nightly News” spent only 143 minutes covering the border crisis from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022, when the U.S. saw record migrant encounters.
“During those same 12 months, the three evening newscasts generated a meager 143 minutes of coverage, or approximately one minute of airtime for every 16,600 migrants encountered at the border,” the MRC report stated.
But in September, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis followed through on his promise to drop off illegal immigrants in blue states. His move came after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent migrants from overwhelmed Texas towns to Washington, D.C. Once the two Republican governors made news related to Biden’s Border crisis, evening newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC suddenly had a newfound interest and spent 61 minutes on immigration.
“These liberal networks saved their most intensive coverage of the year until just the past two months — and then, instead of holding Biden accountable, they scorched Republican Governors Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott for sending a few thousand migrants to liberal enclaves such as New York City and Martha’s Vineyard,” Media Research Center analysts wrote.
“In August and September, nearly three-fourths of all immigration news (44 out of 61 minutes, or 72.5%) was about the few thousand migrants shipped to northern liberal locations,” the analysts continued. “In fact, the arrival of only about 50 migrants in Martha’s Vineyard on September 15 was greeted by 19 minutes of coverage over multiple nights, making those few dozen migrants about 6,000 times more newsworthy (in the eyes of the liberal media) than the 2.37 million who crossed into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California during the past year.”
The Media Research Center believes the “tone of this coverage was lopsidedly anti-Republican” and largely gave the White House a pass. The group calculated the spin of coverage by tallying only “clearly positive and negative statements from non-partisan sources” such as reporters, anchors, voters and other unaffiliated sources, while disregarding rhetoric from lawmakers and partisan pundits.
“This methodology is designed to exclude the partisan back-and-forth between Democrats and Republicans, in order to zero in on the spin being imparted by the networks themselves. Using this approach, only ABC’s World News Tonight suggested any blame of the Biden administration, and then only twice,” the MRC wrote.
ABC’s “World News Tonight” featured a Sept. 16 moment when correspond Mireya Villarreal said Biden’s plan “isn’t working,” and correspondent Rachel Scott once shouted to Biden during a televised segment, “Why is the border more overwhelmed under your watch, Mr. President?”
The MRC noted that “neither statement was especially fierce,” but found it noteworthy the Disney-owned network at least attempted to hold Biden accountable, albeit briefly.
“In contrast, these networks’ criticisms of the Republican governors were far more frequent and pugnacious,” the MRC found. “Instead of focusing on the Biden failures exposed by the migrants arriving in the north, reporters chose instead to dismiss it all as a political stunt.”
The study found that on Sept. 15 ABC’s Mary Bruce “perfectly parroted Democratic talking points” when she declared, “It’s a stunt using human beings to score political points,” during a segment on the flight of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard
“Two nights later, the CBS Weekend News carved out airtime for an ‘aid worker’ making the same partisan point: ‘Using people as political pawns to make a political point is wrong, and this is really an immoral thing for whoever is doing it to be doing,’” the MRC wrote.
On Sept. 20, CBS’ Manuel Bojorquez “touted a ‘federal civil rights lawsuit’ alleging DeSantis committed ‘bold-faced lies’ to coerce migrants to sign up for the flight to Martha’s Vineyeard,” according to the MRC.
The MRC found 26 negative comments about Republican governors compared to only one comment from a non-partisan person supporting the GOP governors.
“Immigration was a huge focus of the evening newscasts during the Trump years, but since January 2021 the networks have turned a blind eye to Biden’s debacle at the southern border. Now that the immigration crisis is back on their radar screen, reporters are using it as just another club to wield against Republican governors,” the MRC concluded.
September’s migrant encounter number was a significant increase from the same month in recent years. In September 2021, there were 192,001 migrant encounters. Border agents encountered 57,674 migrants in September 2020 and 52,546 in September 2019.
Last month’s figures also saw an increase from August, when there were 203,598 migrant encounters.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Landon Mion contributed to this report.