TV News Record: Fox on CNN, getting Gorsuch right + fact-checks

We changed our name! Our weekly updates from the TV News Archive are now titled TV News Record, to reflect our goal of providing many ways for viewers to put the news in context, whether through fact checks from our national fact-checking partners, visualizations of patterns of news coverage, or other ways of using TV news metadata to deepen analysis of the news.

This week we present fact-checks by fact-checking groups of claims about gang arrests, fraudulent votes, the Russia investigations, and Medicaid. But first, some observations about cable news coverage of news this week and realized hopes for the newest Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch by the religious right.

Fox devotes most air time to CNN story retraction 

In a stark reminder of how which cable channel you watch affects what news you see, Dave Weigel of The Washington Post noted this week that while health care was big news on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening, Fox cable stations were busy reporting on the fallout over a retracted story by CNN related to Russia investigations: “The network’s prime-time shows, ratings kings of cable news, ignored the health-care story,” he wrote. Meanwhile, “The CNN story, sparked by a retracted report on Russia and Trump and inflamed by the sting video, sprawled across multiple segments.”

Weigel’s analysis is borne out by plugging key search terms into the Television Explorer, a tool built by data scientist Kalev Leetaru fueled by TV News Archive data. Search for the term “retraction” near “story” over the 72-hour period ending on June 30, and Fox news dominates.

A search for “retraction” near “story” over 72 hour period ending at 10:20 am ET, June 30, 2017.

The converse is also true: a similar search for “health care” near “Senate” yielded the following results, with CNN  devoting the most attention to the story, and more than four times as much as Fox News did.

“Health care” near “Senate,” 72 hour period ending 10:20 am ET, June 30 2017.

Such searches are easily done on Television Explorer. With the explosion of coverage over the past 24 hours about President Donald Trump’s tweets about MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, we’re keeping on eye on this search of “Trump” near “tweet.” Questions? Contact tvnews@archive.org.

Getting Gorsuch right

In the lead up to the Senate’s confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, many commentators noted that his appeal to conservatives was enhanced by his stance on religious issues. With the conclusion of the Court’s term on Monday, Gorsuch’s champions were vindicated with his decisions in such matters as Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, in which Gorsuch sided with the majority affirming that a church was eligible for public funding to build a playground. Here is CNN reporter Ariane de Vogue back in April 2017 explaining why the case matters:

And now on to this week’s highlighted TV news fact-checks.

Claim: MS-13 gang members are being deported by the thousands (hundreds)

At a rally speech in Iowa on June 21, President Trump said of MS-13, “They don’t like to shoot people. They like to cut people. They do things that nobody can believe. These are true animals. We are moving them out of the country by the thousands, by the thousands. We’re getting them out, MS-13.”

Michelle Ye Hee Lee reported for the Washington Post’s Fact Checker that while the Trump administration has increased enforcement against gang activity, deportations “are in the hundreds, not the thousands, under Trump.”  The reporters at FactCheck.org concurred, and quoted Danielle Bennett, a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who said the agency “does not track gang removals by specific gang.’”

Claim: People hired for independent Russia investigations are all Hillary supporters (mostly false)

In a recent TV interview, President Trump said “I can say that the people that have been hired (for the independent Russia investigation) are all Hillary Clinton supporters, some of them worked for Hillary Clinton.”

For PolitiFact, Manuela Tobias reported “Three of the eight available Mueller hires made campaign contributions to Clinton, which undermines Trump’s statement that all are Clinton supporters. Furthermore, none of them have worked for Clinton directly. Two represented either the Clinton Foundation or an aide, never her, and working for WilmerHale, which has also represented key members of Trump’s White House.”

You’re grandfathered in if you became a Medicaid recipient under Obamacare (mostly false)

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday about the proposed GOP health care legislation, “If you became a Medicaid recipient through the Obamacare expansion, you are grandfathered in.”

Joshua Gillin reported for PolitiFact, “The ‘grandfathered expansion enrollees’ would have to maintain near-continuous coverage, with no breaks of more than a month, in order to get the higher rate.” He continued, “Continuous coverage can be hard for Medicaid recipients to maintain. Medicaid patients have to continuously provide proof of income, and if a patient goes over the income limit, they lose coverage. This is a concept known as churning.”

Claim: 5.7 million undocumented immigrants might have voted in 2008 (wrong)

On a recent morning show, Fox co-host Ainsley Earhardt said of the 2008 election, “5.7 million – that’s how many illegal immigrants might have voted.”

According to Amy Sherman at PolitiFact, “Trump has made repeated claims about massive voter fraud and election rigging, which we’ve debunked again and again and again and again and again and again and again (and we debunked a claim by his spokesman Sean Spicer).” She goes on to explain that the figure used by Earhardt “is based on an extrapolation of a controversial study that relied on a very small number of responses. Researchers involved in the underlying survey of voters have cautioned against using their data to reach conclusions about noncitizen voters.”

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