Local Media Downplays (or Ignores) Trump Debate Performance


On Sunday, October 9, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton participated in the second of three presidential debates in St. Louis, Missouri. Donald Trump was widely considered to have had a very solid performance in the debate, with most political pundits conceding “he won.”

Interestingly, there was little-to-no coverage of Trump’s performance in local newscasts. For instance, on WBAY’s Monday, October 10 10:00 pm newscast, the station elected to feature a story of “Donald Trump doubling down on his verbal attacks on Hillary Clinton.” No mention of his debate performance.

Similarly, in WLUK Fox 11’s newscast, Fox 11 featured poll results asking respondents if the debate would affect how they would vote in November, yet no specific discussion of the respective candidates’ performance.

NBC 26 and WFRV Ch. 5 simply ignored the debate altogether, aside from coverage the night of the debate.

What was the coverage like after the first debate, where Hillary Clinton was considered “the winner”? Interesting, NBC 26 and WFRV Ch. 5 each featured stories specifically focused on Hillary Clinton’s performance, with NBC 26 concluding she won “decisively” in its September 30 newscast.

The lack of positive coverage on Trump’s performance in the second debate compared with the positive coverage on Clinton’s performance in the first debate provides an excellent example of bias by spin and story selection.

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