Trump, in a national-security focused Q-and-A with former Defense Intelligence Agency chief Michael Flynn, described the Iran-Iraq war in flippant terms, saying that the two countries would “fight fight fight. And then Saddam Hussein would do the gas. And somebody else would do something else. And they’d rest.”
Clinton, on the other hand, focused her remarks on issues like college affordability and small businesses.
Fox, CNN, and MSNBC responded by giving almost all of their attention to Trump.
The networks started carrying Trump’s remarks at around 2:15 PM ET. When Clinton started speaking at around 2:30, the networks relegated her to a small, muted stream in the lower right-hand corner (MSNBC briefly put both up side by side as they offered commentary):
“Let’s listen to, just a little bit of this, to get the flavor of it,” Fox anchor Martha MacCallum said when turning to the feed of Trump’s remarks. Fox then stayed with Trump for 23 minutes, before switching to Clinton at 2:41 and carrying her uninterrupted for six minutes.
MSNBC carried Trump even longer, starting around the same time and going until 2:50 (35 minutes). It then switched from Clinton, who was on from 2:51 until the end of her remarks at 3:14 (23 minutes).
CNN, meanwhile, carried Trump from 2:15 to 2:42 (28 minutes), and Clinton from 2:42 to 2:50 (8 minutes).
Television news media has long seen Trump’s campaign as its bread and butter. “Go Donald! Keep getting out there!” CBS chief executive Les Moonves told an investor presentation last December. He followed up by saying that Trump “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS, that’s all I got to say.”
Working with the research firm mediaQuant, the New York Times estimated that Trump received $2 billion in free media coverage from the start of his campaign through March 2016.
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