MSNBC Aired More Initial Coverage of Ferguson Turmoil Than Fox News, CNN: Study

MSNBC Aired More Initial Coverage of
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NBCUniversal’s MSNBC cable outlet spent more time covering the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., than rivals CNN or Fox News Channel in the first week the story broke, according to a new study.

In the six days after Brown’s Aug. 9 death, Fox News devoted about half the airtime that MSNBC did to events in Ferguson, with CNN’s coverage clocking in at around 73% of the MSNBC total, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of media coverage released this week. The organization noted that its previous analysis of the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, another news story involving the shooting death of a black teen, found similar treatment by the three cable channels.

Last month, MSNBC’s ratings slipped to fourth among the cable news networks behind Fox News, CNN and HLN with an average of 316,000 daily viewers.

According to Pew, over the course of 18 hours of primetime programming from Sunday through Friday of last week, MSNBC spent a total of 5 hours and 42 minutes on Ferguson, more than CNN’s 3 hours and 59 minutes and twice as much as the nearly 3 hours Fox News spent on the story. However, Fox News increased its attention to the story and its coverage time was on par with CNN’s by Aug. 15, according to Pew.

“The decision by Fox News to devote less time to the events in Ferguson than the other networks did was similar to how the channels covered the controversy surrounding Trayvon Martin’s shooting in March 2012,” Pew senior researcher Paul Hitlin said in a blog post.

Meanwhile, Pew found that the Ferguson story emerged on Twitter before it was picked up by the cable news nets, which quickly caught up. On  Aug. 10, the day after Brown’s death, there were about 146,000 tweets posted on the subject. On the following, both Fox News and MSNBC devoted time to the story during their evening primetime lineup, but CNN did not. By Aug. 12, all three cable channels budgeted significant time to the story after two nights of protests had led to confrontations with police.

For the study, Pew analyzed three hours per day of primetime news programming on the three major cable news channels from Aug. 10-15. For Fox News, the hours examined were 8-11 p.m. Eastern; for MSNBC, it was 7-10 p.m. Eastern; and for CNN the hours were 7-9 and 10-11 p.m. Eastern.

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  1. dave says:

    People watch MSNBC? Oh of course all the race batters and victim want a bes

  2. Debbie says:

    I used to watch MSNBC at least a couple of hours per day. After watching their completely biased reporting on Ferguson MO, I will no longer spend one minute of my time on them. I’m from the area, know people who still live there and have businesses there. MSNBC chose to spend all of their time in a 3 block area. Most of the residents of Ferguson were going about their business. Tamryn Hall kept making a big deal that the Mayor and the majority of the councilman are white in a mostly black area. She is right and that completely disproves her assertion that there is a lot of racial tension. These white folks were elected by a mostly African American population. My whole family used to watch only MSNBC for cable news and politics. They are losing a LOT of viewers that won’t come back.

  3. Steve l. says:

    And you are proud of that fact? Why dont you cover something of worldwide importance. You have just admitting to doing more tone flame race relations than any other networks. Good job you fools

  4. Brad says:

    Isn’t it worth considering that there are other news stories that needed to be covered? Namely, ISIS and Israel/Palestine? If you’re devoting more time to one story, you are devoting less time to something else.

  5. Kathie A says:

    I have mixed views about the uproar in Ferguson. I have always been horrified by the miss use of police force, racism, lack of empathy for less fortunate…etc. however, I believe I have seen more racism from black guest being interviewed on MSNBC than I have ever seen. The requests they are making May be justified. But the comments they are making are no different than what they are accusing the police of doing.
    I am also restless no one seems to think the young man’s bullying the clerk and stealing him should be discussed. I would love to her that the parents apologized to the clerk. A man half mr. Brown’s size. His father then said something about his son was raised to respect others and police. He should not have been shot so many times and I believe more would support their cause, but with all do respect, they seem to be condoning his bullying and chrominance actions.

    • WalkingByFaith says:

      You comment is bothersome in the fact that you suggest that a discussion about Michael Brown “bullying” a clerk should be had like he is alive to defend himself and, even more disturbing, as if that justifies him being killed. Also, you mention racism from Black Guest? Be clear, those guest have no power to incorporate their perceived racism into action such as law and policies, unlike the actual policies and laws that made it ok to kill an unarmed man, regardless of race. Fact still remains that blacks are being killed in this country at an alarming rate by white cops and vigilantes……standing their ground.

  6. Dolores says:

    What CNN was beaten out, they went crazy when the lost plane was not found. They had so many theories and 24/7 coverage, they went totally nuts. There is no justice for anyone in this country anymore, because you are tried in the court of public opinion. This started at the OJ Simpson trial, in the eyes of many he could not be guilty. No Matter what was brought out in that trial he was not going to be found guilty. Now we have so many court room shows where judges are paid 40+ million dollars a year to be nasty to people who bring petty lawsuits only worth a couple thousand dollars. Then you have I don’t know how many news shows that jump on anything and report it to no end. Also, sports shows that you can watch 24/7 and not sleep one minute. Too much going on in this world. When there are so terror and injustice to all kinds of people.

  7. W e are in a crazy world, all I pray for is total peace among us all.

  8. We created the Tv on the go app to allow for non mainstream content to have a home right now we are serving up news on all fronts. Russia- Middle East & Ferguson Get the Iphone app to see it in action realtime. I thought the coverage on all sides were fairly decent and created solutions and discussions that were needed.

  9. Kathy S says:

    Squash that opportunistic cockroach, don’t listen to it (him)…We will not watch anything you air. Yes, we are educated, degree holding adults who feel the media is amazing in it’s trial of anything that happens. Don’t you think that we have trial by jury in a courtroom for this purpose? Shame on you!! Black, white or brown no one deserves a trial by media. The media in this country is sending our society back into the dark ages and hindering any possibility of improving relations between societal inhabitants. Give it a rest.

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