A huuuuge reason the public is turning online to get its news: TV’s Trump obsession

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Credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Media bashing has never been my thing, for obvious reasons, but we’ll make an exception today to note some statistics that illustrate as well as anything why so many people of all political stripes have abandoned television network newscasts in favor of the Internet.

 Eric Boehlert writes at MediaMatters:

Donald Trump didn't announce his candidacy until mid-June of last year, but still managed to be covered as the second biggest news story for all of 2015 on the network evening newscasts.

Between ABC's World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, Trump's campaign captured 327 minutes of airtime, according to television news analyst Andrew Tyndall (ABC: 121, CBS: 84, NBC: 122 minutes, respectively). That figure doesn't include the network newscasts' coverage of the Republican debates, which garnered an additional 123 minutes of airtime.

Those raw numbers do not give a full picture.

Context: ABC's evening news broadcast produced almost as much Trump coverage last year as it did for the Ebola panic in 2014. …

More context: Trump received 327 minutes of evening network airtime one year before the general election campaign. In 2012, during the general election campaign, President Obama's re-election run garnered just 157 minutes of airtime.

Think that’s embarrassing? Try this one: Over the first 11 months of last year, ABC’s newscast devoted exactly one minute to the campaign of Bernie Sanders, who as I type is polling neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton in early primary states that will determine the Democratic nominee. No matter what one thinks of Sanders – that he’s the second coming of Fidel Castro, he’s unelectable or he’s just what the country needs – you should be outraged that a major television network has treated his candidacy less seriously than the latest viral video on YouTube.

Now I’m willing to cut the networks a tiny bit of slack on this issue because I believe that Trump is a unique – and uniquely dangerous – presidential candidate. When something is of critical importance and has never happened before, well, that’s pretty much the definition of major news.

Yet there are – or at least should be – limits. And, when it comes to influencing the public’s choice of the next leader of the free world -- there should be at least a modicum of balance and fairness (the real kind, not the Fox marketing slogan).

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