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CNN loves Trump, Fox loves Clinton, and it's all less strange than it sounds

No matter what cable news channel you watch, you saw a lot of Donald Trump in 2015, and you saw a lot more of Hillary Clinton than any of her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. If you watch one network in particular, though, you saw a ton of Trump — almost twice as much as you saw of Clinton. And if you watch another leading network, you will have seen as much of Clinton as you did of Trump, and almost nothing about Clinton's liberal challengers.

That Trump-loving network is CNN.

The one that talks a lot more about Clinton is Fox News.

It's less strange than it sounds.

Clinton ended the year having nabbed about three-quarters of all the mentions of Democrats across all national news networks, according to Internet Archive data rounded up by the GDELT Project. Trump ended up with two-fifths of the Republican mentions, despite entering the race halfway into the year, and despite competing with a dozen other serious candidates for airtime.

It's not entirely a fair comparison, because Republicans in general are getting more TV time than Democrats this cycle, but Trump is beating Clinton by about 40 percent in total mentions for the year.

Half of that advantage comes from CNN's infatuation with Trump, where he is doubling up Clinton in the number of mentions. On MSNBC, Trump has a smaller advantage, while at Fox, Trump and Clinton are tied.

Now, Fox is not known for its frequent puff pieces on Hillary Clinton; one clue for why she shows up so much more on its shows, comparatively speaking, comes from the Internet Archive. It lists 1,500 individual shows mentioning "Benghazi" on Fox for 2015, compared to about 650 on CNN. It's likely that the extra airtime Clinton is receiving on Fox, in other words, has often been spent discussing scandals surrounding her and her candidacy.

Still, free airtime seems especially valuable in this campaign, at least for Trump, who has time and again found ways to grab the attention of network cameras — and allowing his campaign to spend almost nothing on paid television ads. The flip side of that equation is Jeb Bush, who lags in single-digit polling despite being the clear No. 3 in airtime for the year.

Trump and Bush both command an outsized share of television time, compared to what you'd expect from their poll numbers. Meanwhile, the two candidates currently favored in betting markets to win the Republican nomination — Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — have combined for less than 12 percent of all Republican candidate mentions on the year.

Rubio and Cruz, like Clinton, can direct their complaints to CNN, which has mentioned Trump this year more than every other Republican candidate combined. Only one other major network comes close to that level of Trump favoritism.

It's Comedy Central.

CNN loves Trump, Fox loves Clinton, and it's all less strange than it sounds 01/02/16 [Last modified: Saturday, January 2, 2016 1:24am]
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