A Week in the Life of ABC ‘News’

“ABC Nightly News,” televised daily across the nation at 5:30 p.m., offers what is perhaps the lowest common denominator of the mainstream media’s liberal, anti-Trump bias. But even if you compare what ABC has to say to what actually constitutes balanced reporting, as well as to what qualifies as newsworthy reporting, ABC falls short.

By these standards—by what used to be the basic editorial criteria for good journalism—ABC “news” is a dangerous fraud. They spew propaganda, calibrated at an almost infantile level, calculated to reinforce carefully nurtured biases within their television audience.

ABC News is anchored by the dashing metrosexual, David Muir, an actor of extraordinary skill. Muir, along with a laudably diverse collection of equally telegenic thespians masquerading as “journalists,” manages to exude convincing gravitas despite delivering, night after night, an embarrassing infotainment sham, mixing in equal parts pablum and agenda-driven propaganda. Forget about the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism, or the Edward R. Murrow Award. Give David Muir an Oscar.

ABC’s nightly “news” is easily dissected. Their 30-minute formula, which all three legacy networks follow, consists of a prolonged opening segment, about 15 minutes in length, in which the  top national and international stories are presented (or so they tell us). An examination of what they reported on last week, during the five days from August 5 through August 9, provides ample evidence of just how far removed they are from genuine journalism.

Monday, August 5

Top story: the shootings in Dayton and El Paso. Almost immediately Muir had to connect the shootings to “growing scrutiny on the president.” Video clips were shown of Trump responding to someone who shouted “shoot them” at one of Trump’s rallies, followed by commentary stressing how “Trump has downplayed the threat of white supremacists.” With respect to the two shooters, the focus was on evidence of the El Paso shooter’s racism, with the left-wing lunacy of the Dayton shooter barely mentioned.

The rest of the top stories for ABC that Monday were on the following topics: “94 percent of Americans support background checks” (let’s see that survey question), the Dow Jones Index was down 767 points (with blame placed on Trump’s “trade war” with China—the implicit assumption being we should not be in a trade war with China), and North Korea fired some short range missiles (with no acknowledgement that they are refraining from firing long-range missiles thanks to Trump’s diplomacy).

Why doesn’t ABC report any of this news? Could it be that informing the American public as to what’s really going on in the world is not their primary concern?

Tuesday, August 6

Muir leads off by claiming the Dayton shooter was “motivated by violent ideology.” In a prolonged exploration of the “red flags” exhibited by the shooter over several years, it was only mentioned as a very brief aside that his chosen ideologies were leftist. Follow-up reporting on the mass shootings continued with an update about the El Paso shooter, where his right-wing ideology was on full narrative display along with a report that he had “no remorse,” and that he went on his rampage specifically to “find Mexicans.”

Tuesday’s mass shooting coverage continued with an attack on Trump’s visit to El Paso, with Muir’s monologue buttressed by words on the television screen saying “words of comfort fight words that came before.” This is typical of ABC in its war on Trump. A producer will selectively grab out-of-context remarks Trump made in the past that in order to assert they contradict something he said more recently.

In this case, for example, they reprised Trump’s description of the out-of-control flood of immigrants across America’s southern border as an “invasion.” This extended segment then dove into selective interviews with Trump haters attending Democratic presidential candidate rallies, followed by carefully curated anti-Trump soundbites from the mayors of Dayton and El Paso, along with “Beto” O’Rourke.

The top stories kept coming on Tuesday; including a familiar new theme in the mainstream national “news,” a weather report. “Severe storms across the Midwest” with “climate change” as the frightening subtext. Then a report on house fires caused by natural gas leaks in Detroit, Kentucky, and North Carolina, with the subtext being “fossil fuel is dangerous.” Then the obligatory revelation of yet another example of police racism, this time the click-worthy video of two cops on horseback arresting a mentally ill African-American (subtext: America is saturated in white racism).

Wednesday, August 7

Apparently, there was not much real news on Wednesday, so the top story was a weather report on “severe storms, tornadoes, heavy rain and floods.” Then, after this mandatory reminder of terrifying climate change, the focus shifted to messaging designed to create the impression the nation is gripped by gun rights induced chaos and terror.

The onscreen text read “Nation on Edge,” as Muir’s substitute anchor for the rest of the week, Tom Llamas, launched into a sober recitation of just how bad things have gotten. His rather underwhelming examples were a false alarm concerning a gunman at USA Today’s offices, a motorcycle’s backfire scaring tourists in New York’s Times Square, and a “loud noise in Utah” that frightened people.

“So many Americans on edge,” he concluded.

What next on Wednesday? Of course, Trump bashing. The onscreen text? “Trump’s Polarizing Trip,” where the president’s visits to Dayton and El Paso are disparaged as ill-advised forays at the same time as supposedly “the White House is keeping him [Trump] out of view” (subtext: because he’s so toxic).

Then the video cuts to Joe Biden, claiming that Trump “in clear language and in code, is fanning the flames of racism.” This is followed by further out-of-context comments by Trump, along with other top stories including a “Home Blast Hate Crime” involving “racial slurs and a swastika,” a “Deadly Police Shooting” in Colorado Springs where a black man was shot when he allegedly reached for a gun, and “ICE Raids.”

Thursday, August 8

The top stories, in order: “Deadly Stabbing Spree” with “dangerous incidents across the country,” followed by two examples, Orange County, where a gang member went berserk (but no mention of how California’s “early release” law put him back on the street), alongside cursory coverage of a stabbing in Pittsburgh. Then, “Dangerous Escapee Manhunt” in Tennessee (subtext: you’re not safe), followed by “Sweeping Immigration Raids” where a crying six-year-old is filmed saying, “My dad didn’t do nothing, he’s not a criminal.” But Thursday’s propaganda rich broadcast was just getting warmed up.

Also offered up in Thursday’s top stories was “Mother’s Warning,” a report explaining that the El Paso shooter’s mother had contacted police to see if there was any way to regulate her son’s purchase of a firearm and was told there was not (subtext: we need more gun control).

That story was closely paired with a report that in El Paso “none of the victims were willing or able to meet with the president” (subtext: who would want to meet with that racist), then campaign reportage, “Taking on Trump,” in which several Democratic candidates—Biden, O’Rourke, Warren—were asked, “Is the president a white supremacist?” Talk about a softball question.

Thursday’s top stories wrapped up with two climate change reports. The first, “Severe Storm Damage,” described tornadoes and flooding in the eastern United States, then the more consequential second one, with “Dire Climate Warning” emblazoned on the television screen as Llamas described a “new study” that reports “soil being lost 100 times faster than it is being formed,” with absolutely zero explanation of what that was supposed to mean, much less what assumptions were made or who came up with this study. The segment’s concluding words: “There’s hope if we act fast.”

Friday, August 9

End of the work week, and more of the same from ABC. “New Walmart Panic” was the top story, covering the odd fact of a young man walking into a Walmart store in Missouri armed with a rifle and wearing body armor. Nothing bad happened, fortunately, but this was the top story.

Then, to reinforce ABC’s “America is a terrifying place to live” theme, the second top story on Friday was a road rage incident in Houston where an alleged gang member armed with an assault rifle killed another alleged gang member. The third story was “Bombshell Documents Unsealed” with respect to the Jeffrey Epstein case. This could be a big story exposing a lot of powerful Democrats, unless something were to happen before Epstein could testify…

Friday’s top stories concluded predictably. The titles written onscreen are self-explanatory: “Meaningful Background Checks,” “Dangerous Storms,” “Dangerous Escapee Manhunt,” and “El Paso Suspect Confessed” (to committing a hate crime).

What is the Agenda of ABC Nightly “News”?

ABC’s choice of news stories, and how they present them, reveal a clear agenda. Trump is a racist, America is a racist nation, it is dangerous to walk the streets anywhere in America anymore, and a devastating climate apocalypse is already upon us (for which Trump is to blame).

Missing from these stories is any semblance of balance. What is the statistical context for mass shootings, crime rates, racially motivated murders and hate crimes, police misconduct, or extreme weather? Would the facts—that none of these phenomena are remarkably elevated today compared to what they were in the past, or numerically significant according to any reasonable standard—defeat the agenda?

Also missing from these stories is a sense of proportion. Obviously, a mass shooting deserves national news coverage, but does every storm belong among the top stories? A road rage incident? A follow up story making misleading claims about who the president saw in El Paso? An escaped prisoner? A natural gas fire? An allegedly controversial yet routine arrest?

The disturbing reality is you can’t criticize these story choices anymore without being considered insensitive, or worse. Incidents involving human suffering, much less murders, are horrific. To dismiss them as not newsworthy invites accusations of indifference that are not entirely unfounded. But what else happened in the world last week? What did ABC “News” ignore?

Here are just a few items that might have deserved a minute or two on the broadcast last week: India has just abolished Kashmir’s autonomy after nearly 70 years, an action that will provoke mass unrest and could even push India into another war with Pakistan. Anti-government protests, involving millions of people, are escalating in Hong Kong. The U.S. Navy just sent the supercarrier Ronald Reagan through the South China Sea. The United States and Great Britain are creating a maritime coalition to protect Persian Gulf shipping from Iran, and Germany is refusing to participate. Google is possibly collaborating with Huawei.

That only scratches the surface.

Why doesn’t ABC report any of this news? Could it be that informing the American public as to what’s really going on in the world is not their primary concern?

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.