Politico Media Critic: Fox News Coverage of Trump Trial’s Somehow a ‘Brownout’

Politico senior media writer Jack Shafer argued on Saturday that Fox’s coverage of the Trump trial in Manhattan exposed a propaganda network — while CNN and MSNBC going into gavel-to-gavel overdrive does not? The headline:

Fox News Is Flipping Trump’s Trial Coverage on its Head

The conservative network is curating its coverage to boost Trump.

The liberal networks are curating their coverage to damage Trump – except it seems to help him instead. The liberals think of their obsession as the definition of “normal” news judgment. How could anyone dissent from their journalistic wisdom and think there are other stories to tell? 

Shafer suggests this is an effort to “coddle Trump-loving viewers,” as if the others aren’t coddling Trump-hating viewers. Then he claims “the numbers don’t lie.” Which numbers? They are sketchy numbers.

According to database calculations provided by Roger Macdonald of the Internet Archive TV News, from April 15 through May 17, the Trump trial has been mentioned about half as often on Fox than either of its primary rivals, CNN and MSNBC. (What’s measured: Number of 15-second blocks of airtime times in which both the words “Trump” and “trial” are spoken.)

Meanwhile, at the same time Fox has devoted less attention to the trial itself, it has extended near-blanket coverage to the alternative proceedings taking place in the same location — Trump’s open soliloquies to the press from the courthouse lobby where he lashes enemies inside and out of the courtroom. Fox conducted 33 live broadcasts of Trump statements to the press compared with 19 live statements aired on CNN and just three on MSNBC.

The Fox “brown out” has been obvious to close watchers of the trial.

Wait, wait — if Fox is mentioning the Trump trial “about half as often” as CNN or MSNBC, how is that defined as a “brownout”? Shafer explains some Reuters reporters noted Fox was reporting on anti-Israel campus protests — like there’s other news in the world. One selected hour of The Faulkner Focus only had ten minutes on the trial. Outrageous!

Shafer pleases his Politico audience by arguing Fox is “less a news station than a purveyor of conservative propaganda, after all.” Naturally, to undergird his view, Shafer turns to Fox-trashing David Folkenflik:

NPR media reporter David Folkenflik, a close Fox observer and biographer of Murdoch, notes in an interview that by showing Trump repeatedly outside the courtroom, the network makes it appear as if it is adequately reporting on the intricacies of the trial — even if its coverage is scant. [!] He adds that the TV airtime Fox has given to the Trump congressional surrogates lined up outside the courtroom to testify for their man provides a similar impression.

“This is one of the classic modules or templates that Fox has to offer, the simulacrum of news rather than the actual coverage,” Folkenflik says.

It’s a “simulacrum” when you let Trump’s backers speak out against this Democrat DA and Democrat judge. Point and laugh at David calling half as much trial coverage as CNN “scant.” Half of complete obsession is “scant.”

Shafer added: “What’s significant about the lopsided Fox coverage is that it implies the real news — and the real trial — isn’t happening inside the courtroom.” Shouldn’t both be newsworthy? Doesn’t airing both qualify you as less propagandistic? MSNBC only broadcast three of Trump’s outside-the-court reactions, while Fox had 33, and Jack and David didn’t identify that as “scant.” 

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