According to a study conducted by Mediaite, major network coverage starting on April 19, the day Freddie Gray died, to Friday April 24, just before the protests became violent, was drastically unequal.
The study found that CNN covered the case 154 times, MSNBC covered it 82 times, and Fox News managed to only pop out 20 references to Gray and the ensuing fallout.
The difference was qualitative as well. CNN dispatched high-profile reporters like Joe Johns and anchors like Brooke Baldwin to Baltimore early on. The network interviewed the attorney for Gray’s family several times, talked to forensic experts, others who had been the subject of abuse from the Baltimore police, and even suspects previously injured in similar police vans.
CNN and MSNBC also carried a number of press conferences related to the case, and treated new developments as breaking. Their segments were long, sometimes greater than ten minutes, and featured prominently in the A and B blocks of the news hour; often the story was covered two or three times per hour.
By contrast, Fox filed only a few investigatory reports on the story; a number of the network’s mentions came from brief news updates lasting under thirty seconds, and many only appeared overnight.
The study made sure to point out that CNN had its faults in the coverage too, choosing to cover the White House Correspondents’ Dinner as the unrest began to develop.
Nor is it to absolve the cable networks of a disaster-lensed approach to news. Between noon on Monday, just before the actual “rioting” started, and noon Tuesday, CNN mentioned Freddie Gray’s name 96 times, versus 78 times for “CVS,” meaning the non-human casualty of the protests threatened to subsume, at least on the television, the human cause. (Ahem.) For MSNBC that ratio was 141/64; for Fox News, 84/65.
[Featured image: Getty]