You’re Hired! How NBC Spent 11 Years Making Trump a Household Name, Building Foundation for His Campaign

Network Gave Billionaire Businessman 21 Times More Positive Coverage When They Were Partners

Methodology: MRC Business analyzed Nexis transcripts from NBC morning news, evening news, other news programs and political talk shows (Today, Nightly News, The Chris Matthews Show, Dateline, Rock Center and Meet the Press) that contained the word “Trump” between Jan. 1, 2004, and Feb. 28, 2015, to find coverage of Donald Trump. If a story reported on or mentioned any of Trump’s businesses favorably, they were counted as business promotion stories. These included stories about The Apprentice, as well as the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe pageants. If the story primarily exposed Trump’s business failings, the story was counted as negative. Many stories were not counted if they did not directly reference Trump’s business or his role as a businessman (mentions of Trump’s hair, his political involvement prior to the 2012 election, etc.). Stories that were overwhelmingly about Trump in a non-business setting, but made casual mention of Trump as a businessman, were not counted either.

MRC Business has the following recommendation for NBC:

  • Be Transparent About the Network’s Ties to Trump:  As long as NBC reports on Trump as a political figure, it should disclose its previous contractual relationships with him and be transparent about its ethical processes and choices in covering him. The SPJ code of ethics admonishes conflicts of interest, both real and perceived, and advises journalists to “Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences.” NBC would do well to take that to heart.