TV News Won’t Call Anti-Trump Attorney General and Judge ‘Democrats’

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The media elite always had a choice: They could portray the various legal cases against former President and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump as partisan — i.e., Democratic prosecutors attempting to bring down a powerful Republican — or as nonpartisan law enforcement just doing its job. Since even before the first indictment of Trump in April, the media made their choice clear: They’re simply not going to tell their viewers that these prosecutions are all Democratic projects.

The latest example is the civil lawsuit brought against Trump’s businesses by New York’s Democratic Attorney General, Letitia James. From September 26 through December 12, this case has been the networks’ top campaign story, with 77 minutes of airtime on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts.

In contrast, the three debates held during these same weeks all received far less airtime on these broadcasts: Just 4 minutes, 45 seconds for the debate held on September 27; 6 minutes, 25 seconds for the November 8 debate; and a scant 3 minutes, 27 seconds for the December 6 debate. (These statistics include coverage from the seven days before and after each debate.)

Add it all up, and the three evening newscasts doled out FIVE TIMES more coverage of the New York court proceedings than the three candidate debates combined (14 minutes, 37 seconds).

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And in all of that airtime, only 10% of the stories (10 out of 50) referred to Attorney General James as a Democrat. Even fewer (just two out of 50 stories, or 4%) told viewers that the judge making so many anti-Trump rulings, Arthur Engoron, got his job after running as a Democrat in 2015.

■ ABC’s World News Tonight has churned out the most coverage of Trump’s New York trial (22 stories, totaling 35 minutes, 20 seconds). Only once did they refer to James as a Democrat (and then only in a brief on-screen graphic); Judge Engoron was never labeled as a Democrat.

■ The CBS Evening News (including the CBS Weekend News) supplied 13 stories totaling 20 minutes, 13 seconds. Viewers never once heard either James or Engoron identified as Democrats.

■ The NBC Nightly News generated 15 stories totaling 19 minutes, 27 seconds. Four of those stories (27%) properly identified James as a Democrat, while two of them (14%) let viewers know about Engoron’s party identification.

It’s not as if James’s Democratic partisanship isn’t relevant to the case. When she ran for the job in 2018, she openly advertised her anti-Trump attitude: “I’m running for attorney general because I will never be afraid to challenge this illegitimate president when our fundamental rights are at stake.”

An Associated Press profile on September 28 (Anthony Izaguirre) cast her as deeply prejudiced against the former President. The AP’s not-so-subtle lede: “Letitia James fixated on Donald Trump as she campaigned for New York attorney general, branding the then-president a ‘con man’ and ‘carnival barker’ and pledging to shine a ‘bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings.’”

As testimony in the case concludes this week (final arguments are scheduled for mid-January, with a decision expected later in the month), it’s worth asking why the networks (ABC and CBS in particular) are refusing to accurately describe the Attorney General as a Democratic partisan? Because, after all, she is.

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