When news about President Trump’s call to Ukraine first broke in late September, it seemed like former Vice President Joe Biden would be inextricably linked to the story. Biden was mentioned in more cable news clips and online news stories that week than every other 2020 Democratic candidate combined, according to data from the TV News Archive, which chops up cable news across the three networks we monitor — CNN, MSNBC and Fox News — into 15-second clips1 and Media Cloud, a database of online news.2. That week, Biden was mentioned in 74 percent of cable news clips, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the next most-mentioned candidate, was only in 16 percent of clips.
In the past two weeks, however, as the initial flood of impeachment coverage has ebbed, so has the extra attention for Biden.
Last week, almost all candidates were mentioned in a smaller share of cable news clips and online news stories, per a query run early Monday afternoon. That’s likely because of the Oct. 15 primary debate — we’ve noticed that the share of coverage for candidates who participated in debates in the past seemed to go up on debate week and down the week after, just as we see in the table below.
Tulsi Gabbard was mentioned more on cable last week
Share of 15-second cable news clips mentioning each candidate vs. share of online stories mentioning each candidate in a Media Cloud search
|Cable TV clips the week of …||online stories the week of …|
While most candidates who participated in the October debate got fewer mentions last week compared to the prior week (the week of the debate), there was one notable exception. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was mentioned in almost twice as many cable news clips this week compared to last. Much of the cable news attention came when former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton suggested that Gabbard was being groomed by the Russians for a third-party run to undermine Democrats’ chances in 2020. In fact, the most common words mentioned in 15-second clips mentioning Gabbard were “Hillary,” “Clinton,” “Russian” and “asset.”
But Gabbard didn’t get the same amount of attention across networks last week. She was mentioned in 66 clips on CNN and 71 clips on MSNBC, but 339 clips (almost five times as many) on Fox News.
Check out the data behind this series and check back each week for an update on which candidates are getting the most coverage on cable news.