Nearly One in Five Network Evening News Stories About Trump Were ‘Collusion’ Reports, According to Study

Carlos Barria/Reuters

The evening news programs on the three largest networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — spent around 38 hours covering the investigation into President Donald Trump by special counsel Robert Mueller since January 2017, according to a report from the conservative Media Research Center’s NewsBusters.

In total, the three networks spent 2,284 minutes covering the claims that the president had colluded with the Russians to win his election in 2016. Of those 2,284 minutes, 1,909 minutes of coverage was after the appointment of Mueller to head the investigation. On average, networks spent two minutes and 53 seconds per night of its 30-minute show covering the investigation.


Americans now know that Mueller did not find evidence of a conspiracy between Trump and the Russians. Mueller’s team also declined to bring forward any further indictments for obstruction of justice.

Some were concerned about the disproportionate amount of time “collusion” reports received compared to other news about the Trump administration.

Carlos Barria/Reuters

NewsBusters found that of all the stories about the president since the accusations of collusion surfaced, 18.8 percent of coverage has been about collusion. This means nearly one in five stories about Trump was about collusion instead of issues like tax reform, Middle East policy, or immigration.

While this was clearly an important story for the American people to be kept aware of, many believe the heavy coverage could have been damaging to Trump.

According to the same report from NewsBusters, around 92 percent of coverage of Trump during evening newscasts was negative from the start of the year until March 21.

NewsBusters only included explicitly negative comments that came from “reporters, anchors or non-partisan sources such as experts or voters” in its analysis. It excluded comments from partisan guests.

This is not the first report of this type from NewsBusters. As IJR previously reported, the Media Research Center found that 90 percent of network coverage of Trump was negative in 2017 and 2018.

Although the Mueller report has been turned over to Attorney General William Barr, it likely won’t be the end of the network coverage of the investigation as both sides call for the full report to be released and House Democrats vow further investigations. It remains to be seen if the networks will change their coverage now that Mueller has largely cleared the air for Trump.

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