MSNBC Has Become Almost Entirely Saturated With Opinion, And Fox News Is Doing Much More Factual Reporting

MSNBC’s programming became almost entirely full of commentary and opinion in 2012, while “factual reporting” saw almost no airtime, according to a new report from the Pew Research centre.

The report, which is part of Pew’s annual comprehensive State of the News Media, found that opinion and commentary fill 85 per cent of the airtime on MSNBC. The network only devotes 15 per cent to “factual reporting,” according to the Pew study. 

To conduct the study, Pew looked at a half-hour of daytime programming for the first five months of 2012, along with the first five minutes of the “general news-focused programs” in primetime. To ensure that the programming was representative, Pew also studied a full three days of network programming later in 2012.

By comparison, Fox News’ programming featured 55 per cent commentary and opinion and 45 per cent “factual reporting.” CNN was the only network to feature more reporting than commentary, by a 54-46 margin.

Pew considered a story was commentary or opinion if 25 per cent of the time in that story included opinionated statements.

Here’s a breakdown by network:

MSNBC Fox News Pew Research

Photo: Pew Research centre

For MSNBC, a big shift in programming between Pew’s 2007 study and its 2012 report came with the increased frequency of edited packages in the network’s primetime coverage. These packages are not usually reported content, according to Pew. For example, host Rachel Maddow often leads off her show with a package filled with her opinions on a subject.

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