There are a ton of major issues to consider as voters prepare to head to the polls on November 8. International terror is on the rise, the Middle East is in shambles, tensions with Russia are building, the economy is in the toilet and Obamacare is on life support. Of course, you probably haven’t heard much about any of that if you’ve been getting your election reports from network news.
According to mainstream media watcher Andrew Tyndall, the major television news networks have spent virtually no airtime discussing major issues ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
From his Tyndall Report, which monitors weekday nightly newscasts on ABC, CBS and NBC:
This year’s absence of issues is an accurate portrayal of the turf on which the election is being played out. It has turned into a referendum on the candidates’ fitness for office, hinging on attributes such as honesty, trustworthiness, judgment, temperament, stamina, good health, comportment and boorishness. If the candidates are not talking about the issues, the news media would be misrepresenting the contest to do so.
With just two weeks to go, issues coverage this year has been virtually non-existent. Of the 32 minutes total, terrorism (17 mins) and foreign policy (7 mins) towards the Middle East (Israel-ISIS-Syria-Iraq) have attracted some attention. Gay rights, immigration and policing have been mentioned in passing.
No trade, no healthcare, no climate change, no drugs, no poverty, no guns, no infrastructure, no deficits. To the extent that these issues have been mentioned, it has been on the candidates’ terms, not on the networks’ initiative.
Here’s how 2016 coverage of issues by the major networks stacks up to coverage in election years past:
|Year||Total Minutes of Issues Coverage||ABC Minutes of Issues Coverage||CBS Minutes of Issues Coverage||NBC Minutes of Issues Coverage|
Though Tyndall doesn’t have any numbers provided for the major cable news providers, it’s probably safe to assume the amount of time spent talking about actual issues is similarly abysmal.
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