In addition to the “race for the White House,” we like to consider issues, history, and media coverage. For example, FiveThirtyEight has a scholarly review of how the three major news networks covered the Michael Cohen hearings last week. They found that MSNBC focused on legal implications of what was said, and how it related to the Mueller investigation. “CNN was heavy on issues of credibility, money and payments, and the claim by Cohen that Trump is a ‘racist.’” And Fox talked mainly about. . .North Korea.

The article doesn’t just theorize. They used scientific analysis.

To suss out any differences in the networks’ coverage, we first looked at when “Chen” was spoken and which other words were said within the same 15-second window. . . and isolated the 15 words that were most particular to each network. . . For example, of all the Cohen-related clips mentioning the word “summit,” 80 percent were on Fox News, 15 percent were on MSNBC and 5 percent were on CNN.

They included a graphic of a triangle, with each network at a corner, and the words they most used were “in their corner.”

For CNN, “certainly,” “credibility” and “racist” stood out. Fox News was notable for its use of the word “summit”. . . And MSNBC’s coverage was distinguished by its talk about “prosecutors” and “Mueller.” . . .

CNN talking head Chris Cillizza baldly declared “winners” and “losers” from the hearing. . .[Fox] suggested that the hearing was merely a tool for Trump’s opponents and that given Cohen’s history of lying, the whole thing was something of a farce.

For days, Fox went on complaining that the other media spent too much time on the Cohen hearing, but seriously, have they not heard the definition of “news”? As they say, if a dog bites a man, that’s not news. It’s news if a man bites a dog.

The idea has also been described as, “if it bleeds, it leads.”

That is, people are more interested in things that are outrageous. And so, it’s hardly a surprise that the media were focused on a confessed liar calling a president “a racist, a conman, and a cheat” —than reporting on a meeting which even Trump described as a non-event. Comparing the two is like evaluating the interest of big-time wrestling, compared to the political equivalent of watching paint dry, on the other side of the world.

FiveThirtyEight doesn’t comment in the body of the article, but if you look at the triangle you’ll see that CNN’s other common words included payments, money, rights, attorney and congressman. MSNBC’s other most used words included prosecutors, Mueller, federal, and criminal. Meanwhile, Fox’s other words included summit, collusion, Kim, and John.

The rest of the world seemed to agree that the Cohen (who once said he’d take a bullet for Trump, but became disillusioned) testimony was, in fact, “news.” In France, Euronews had heavy coverage. In Britain, the Independent featured more than 50 articles on the hearings and repercussions. The BBC also had extensive coverage.

The American public, likewise, apparently cared. According to the Hollywood Reporter.

The biggest thing on TV Wednesday wasn’t the finale of The Masked Singer — it was former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testifying before Congress.

Blanket coverage of Cohen’s testimony to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on broadcast networks and cable news channels delivered just under 16 million viewers, according to Nielsen figures. The total includes coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

The article also suggests that Fox hurt itself by minimizing coverage of the hearings.

CNN, however, led its cable competition in the key news demographic of adults 25-54 with 593,000 people from that age group tuning in. MSNBC drew 456,000 in the demo and Fox News 394,000.

How can anyone say this wasn’t “news.” The Wall Street Journal even suggested that Cohen had asked for a pardon ahead of the raid that found so much evidence of bad acting.

Here’s more news—a congressman actually apologized for something.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) late Tuesday apologized for a tweet about Michael Cohen that legal experts and Democrats suggested may constitute witness tampering on the eve of public testimony from the president’s former personal attorney.

Gaetz deleted a tweet in which he suggested Cohen had not been faithful to his wife and questioned whether she would remain faithful to him while he serves a three-year prison sentence.

OK, so the point is, regardless of whether you think Cohen is a sleazeball low-life or the savior of the nation, there’s really no question that his testimony was legitimate news.

The real question is, why are Democrats using all this time and energy investigating Trump when a consummate investigator—Robert Mueller, one who can even plug leaks—is apparently about to release a thorough and painstaking investigation very soon?

4 COMMENTS

  1. We all know that if Cohen was pro Trump, and an Angel mom, there wouldn’t have been any coverage at all.

    I didn’t bother to listen to him. Why? What he said might have been news to you but it wasn’t for me.

    • It was still “news.” If you have someone who agrees with someone else, and is an “angel man,” that would definitely NOT be news, except to the party mouthpieces–Fox and MSNBC.

      I only listened to the first part, to see if it was going anywhere. It wasn’t. He didn’t even throw a hissy fit, like Kavanaugh! As I noted in the article, I didn’t think Democrats should be investigating what Mueller will answer.

      • I basically thought he got his 15 minutes of Fame. He’ll be in the headlines for a few days. Then tossed aside as they move on to other news.

        • And be in jail.

          I guess that’s the reason Dems wanted him on TV. He won’t be available in a couple of months.

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