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Warren Has Recently Been Mentioned More On Fox News Than Other Networks

As the Ukraine scandal continues to dominate the headlines, former Vice President Joe Biden remains the most-mentioned candidate on cable news. But even though Biden has been getting so much attention, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been slowly and steadily rising in popularity (although not at his expense). Last Tuesday, Warren surpassed Biden in the RealClearPolitics average of polls for the first time. It should come as no surprise, then, that Warren is the next most-mentioned candidate on cable news after Biden and that her share of coverage increased last week from the previous week, according to data from the TV News Archive,1 which chops up TV news into 15-second clips. Though this column typically also includes data from Media Cloud, a database of online news stories, that data is temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance.

Warren got more attention on cable news last week

Share of 15-second cable news clips mentioning each candidate

Cable TV clips the week of …
Candidate 9/29/19 10/6/19 diff
Joe Biden 69.3% 65.7% -3.6
Elizabeth Warren 12.8 20.2 +7.3
Bernie Sanders 13.9 13.9 +0.0
Kamala Harris 4.0 3.8 -0.2
Beto O’Rourke 1.7 2.3 +0.7
Tom Steyer 0.5 1.4 +0.9
Amy Klobuchar 1.1 1.3 +0.2
Pete Buttigieg 2.1 1.3 -0.9
Cory Booker 2.0 1.2 -0.8
Julián Castro 0.3 0.5 +0.3
Andrew Yang 0.9 0.5 -0.5
Tulsi Gabbard 0.3 0.3 +0.0
Michael Bennet 0.1 0.1 -0.1
John Delaney 0.0 0.1 +0.1
Steve Bullock 0.3 0.0 -0.3
Marianne Williamson 0.1 0.0 -0.1
Tim Ryan 0.2 0.0 -0.2
Joe Sestak 0.0 0.0 +0.0

Includes all candidates that qualify as “major” in FiveThirtyEight’s rubric. Each network’s daily news coverage is chopped up into 15-second clips, and each clip that includes a candidate’s name is counted as one mention. Our search queries look for an exact match for each candidate’s name, except for Julián Castro, for whom our search query is “Julian Castro” OR “Julián Castro.” Percentages are calculated as the number of clips mentioning each candidate divided by the number of clips mentioning any of the 2020 Democratic contenders for that week.

Sources: Internet Archive’s Television News Archive via the GDELT Project

But Warren’s rise in coverage isn’t all about how well she’s doing in the polls, and it’s also not evenly distributed across the three networks that we monitor (CNN, Fox News and MSNBC). This week she was mentioned in 327 clips on Fox News, but only 176 on MSNBC and 108 on CNN, marking the second week in a row that she has been mentioned significantly more on Fox News compared to the other networks.

And it’s not just the amount of coverage that differs. Fox News is also focusing on stories that the other two networks are not devoting as much time to. “Hillary Clinton” and “visibly pregnant” are among the top three two-word phrases most particular to Fox News in clips about Elizabeth Warren last week.2 The phrase “Hillary Clinton” — which appeared in 17 clips on Fox that mentioned Warren, but only two on each CNN and MSNBC — appeared often in segments about Clinton’s response to a tweet from President Trump suggesting Clinton should run for president and “steal it away” from Warren. And the phrase “visibly pregnant,” which appeared in 14 Fox News clips last week but wasn’t mentioned at all on CNN or MSNBC, occurred in segments about Warren’s response to allegations that she misrepresented the details of her departure from a job as a special education teacher in the early 1970s.

If Warren continues to rise in the polls, she could get more media attention (and scrutiny) than she has in the past. We’ll be monitoring just how much attention she gets in cable and online news, and whether the amount and content continues to diverge across different media sources. Stay tuned!

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 and online.

Footnotes

  1. The TV News Archive measures coverage by splitting CNN, Fox News and MSNBC’s daily news footage into 15-second clips and finding the clips that contain a mention of our search query. Our search queries are the full names of each candidate. The GDELT Television API, which processes the data from the TV News Archive, measures a week of coverage from Sunday through Saturday. The cutoff for measuring coverage for any given day is midnight Eastern Standard Time. (Clock changes for Daylight Saving Time are ignored.)

  2. The third phrase was “don’t know.” To find the two-word phrases (excluding a list of commonly used words, such as “a” or “the”) most particular to each network, we first determined how often the phrase was used, on average, across all three networks. Then, we calculated z-scores for each phrase: the standard deviation between each individual network’s use of the phrase and the three-network mean.

Dhrumil Mehta is a database journalist at FiveThirtyEight focusing on politics.

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