Big Three Networks Give 2X More Coverage to Confederate Flag than Westerners Joining ISIS

Despite briefly mentioning at least six reported instances of American citizens joining ISIS in June, and multiple FBI warnings about ISIS’s influence in the United States, the networks chose to devote more time to the “threat” posed by the existence of the Confederate flag.

The evening news shows of ABC, CBS and NBC spent just 17 minutes, 35 seconds on the threat ISIS poses to American, and 37 minutes and 18 seconds on the controversy over the flag. This disparity in news coverage occurred during a ramped up social media campaign by ISIS to recruit Americans and other westerners to commit acts of terrorism.

When you factor in how many days of coverage each topic had (the Confederate flag debate didn’t begin until June 19, while ISIS has been recruiting westerners for the entire month), the flag debate got 5 times more coverage (186 seconds per day vs 35 seconds per day).

“The Confederate flag is seeing stars tonight,” CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley quipped,  “as corporations and politicians ran over each other in a stampede to trample the banner into history.” Even though there has been bipartisan support for the removal of the flag at the SC state capitol building, the networks continued to hype the issue as if it were being met with significant opposition.

Reporters also praised companies like Amazon, Apple, Walmart and Google stopped selling anything with the Confederate flag on it. ABC World News Tonight’s Steve Osunsami called the flag “divisive.” When shopkeepers in the south began pulling any Confederate flag-related merchandise, Pelley opined that it was “as if they’d been noticed for the first time.”


— Mike Ciandella is Research Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Mike Ciandella on Twitter.