Fox News gave slim coverage to Sen. Craig story

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER & JEREMY HOLDEN

From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on August 27, Fox News devoted only 3 minutes and 47 seconds to segments discussing Sen. Larry Craig's lewd-conduct arrest. By contrast, MSNBC aired 8 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage on the story, while CNN aired 20 minutes and 38 seconds.

From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on August 27, Fox News devoted only 3 minutes and 47 seconds to segments discussing Sen. Larry Craig's (R-ID) June 11 arrest during an investigation of "lewd conduct" in the men's public restroom at a Minnesota airport and his subsequent guilty plea to charges of disorderly conduct. By contrast, during the same six-hour period, MSNBC devoted 8 minutes and 26 seconds to coverage of Craig's arrest, while CNN devoted 20 minutes and 38 seconds of coverage to the story.

As an August 27 Roll Call article reported, Craig was arrested on June 11 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd conduct in the restroom. Craig pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court on August 8, paid more than $500.00 in fines and fees, and was given one year of probation. Following the Roll Call report, Craig issued a formal statement:

"At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct.

"I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

As Media Matters for America documented, Craig has a record of staunch opposition to gay-rights issues and legislation.

Media Matters reviewed the programming on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN between the hours of 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on August 27 and calculated the amount of coverage devoted to Craig's June 11 arrest and subsequent guilty plea. Only news segments were analyzed; previews and teasers were not included in this review.

  • 5 p.m. ET hour: MSNBC was the first of the three cable networks to report on the story. At approximately 5:14 p.m., national correspondent David Shuster cited the Roll Call article and reported the response from Craig's spokesman, who called the incident a "he said/he said misunderstanding." Shuster's report lasted 1 minute and 15 seconds. CNN first covered the story near the end of the 5 p.m. hour of The Situation Room with a 1 minute and 30 second report by contributor Carol Costello. Fox News also briefly mentioned Craig's arrest and subsequent guilty plea near the end of the 5 p.m. hour of The Big Story with John Gibson.
  • 6 p.m. ET hour: MSNBC's Tucker devoted 1 minute and 36 seconds to a panel discussion of Craig's arrest, while CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight twice reported on the story for a total of 3 minutes and 7 seconds. Fox also included two brief segments on the story, each under a minute in length.
  • 7 p.m. ET hour: MSNBC rebroadcast the 5 p.m. ET edition of Hardball, including Shuster's original report. On Fox News, The Fox Report with Shepherd Smith devoted 1 minute and 35 seconds to the story. By contrast, CNN's The Situation Room devoted 11 minutes and 43 seconds to coverage of Craig's arrest, including the news that Craig had resigned from a position on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's (R) presidential campaign committee in Idaho.
  • 8 p.m. ET hour: MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann devoted 1 minute and 7 seconds to Craig's arrest. On Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor with guest host Michelle Malkin did not cover the story, but a newsbreak did devote 28 seconds to the story. CNN's Out in the Open devoted 3 minutes 48 seconds to Craig's arrest, with host Rick Sanchez noting that "this is not what we planned to start this newscast with, but this is a developing story that's now looking like it could possibly turn into a bombshell."
  • 9 p.m. ET hour: Only MSNBC Live covered the story, devoting 3 minutes and 13 seconds to Craig's arrest.
  • 10 p.m. ET hour: Only CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 covered Craig's arrest.

MSNBC:

Hour (ET) Timestamp at start of segment
Timestamp at end of segment
Length of segment
5 p.m. 14 min. 15 sec. 15 min. 30 sec. 1 min. 15 sec.
6 p.m. 41 min. 31 sec. 43 min. 7 sec. 1 min. 36 sec.
7 p.m. 14 min. 30 sec. 15 min. 45 sec. 1 min. 15 sec.
8 p.m. 24 min. 24 sec. 25 min. 31 sec. 1 min. 7 sec.
9 p.m. 0 min. 33 sec. 3 min. 46 sec. 3 min. 13 sec.
10 p.m. NO COVERAGE NO COVERAGE NO COVERAGE
TOTAL: 8 min. 26 sec.

CNN:

Hour (ET) Timestamp at start of segment
Timestamp at end of segment
Length of segment
5 p.m. 56 min. 37 sec. 58 min. 7 sec. 1 min. 30 sec.
6 p.m. 5 min. 43 sec. 6 min. 48 sec. 1 min. 5 sec.
31 min. 5 sec. 33 min. 7 sec. 2 min. 2 sec.
7 p.m. 1 min. 3 sec. 3 min. 5 sec. 2 min. 2 sec.
28 min. 39 sec. 37 min. 49 sec. 9 min. 10 sec.
49 min. 10 sec. 49 min. 41 sec. 31 sec.
8 p.m. 10 min. 43 sec. 14 min. 31 sec. 3 min. 48 sec.
9 p.m. NO COVERAGE NO COVERAGE NO COVERAGE
10 p.m. 41 min. 37 sec. 42 min. 7 sec. 30 sec.
TOTAL: 20 min. 38 sec.

Fox News:

Hour (ET) Timestamp at start of segment
Timestamp at end of segment
Length of segment
5 p.m. 53 min. 31 sec. 54 min. 10 sec. 39 sec.
6 p.m. 7 min. 13 sec. 7 min. 50 sec. 37 sec.
37 min. 2 sec. 37 min. 30 sec. 28 sec.
7 p.m. 4 min. 53 sec. 6 min. 00 sec. 1 min. 7 sec.
59 min. 12 sec. 59 min. 40 sec. 28 sec.
8 p.m. 34 min. 12 sec. 34 min. 40 sec. 28 sec.
9 p.m. NO COVERAGE NO COVERAGE NO COVERAGE
10 p.m. NO COVERAGE NO COVERAGE NO COVERAGE
TOTAL: 3 min. 47 sec.
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
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