WFRV Spins State Party Conventions

WFRV CBS 5  |  6-3-2016


Recently, both the Wisconsin Republican (in May) and Democratic Parties (June)  held their state conventions in Northeast Wisconsin. Both conventions featured substantial reporting by local news affiliates. Channel 5’s coverage however, stood out to us.

Channel 5’s coverage of the State Republican Convention seemed to focus on the alleged dissension between Republicans and their presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Even interviewing a Republican convention attendee that has reservations and may not be voting for Trump in the upcoming election. The reporter did not, however, reciprocate the point with coverage of a Trump supporter.

Now, we turn to Channel 5’s June 3rd coverage of the State Democratic Convention. Note the tone of the coverage and omission of notable points. There is no mention that the Democrats are still in the midst of a contested primary race (at the time of broadcast) or the alleged dissention in their party.

Weeks prior, Nevada’s State Democratic Convention showed significant discord between Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s supporters. You can read more about that in our past coverage of that event here.

There has even been a growing movement among Sanders’ supporters and Democratic Senators to remove the current Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for her outspoken anti-Sanders position.

Patterns in local and national media seem to highlight friction amongst Republicans while downplaying the ongoing disputes that are taking place between Democrats. This can be seen in the polling numbers that existed prior to these two stories being aired.

At the time Channel 5 aired its coverage of the Republican convention, national polling by Rasmussen noted that 73% of Republicans indicated they would vote for Donald Trump, compared to the 77% of Democrats who indicated they would vote for Hillary Clinton.

Despite the mere 4-point differential in support between Trump and Clinton, WFRV pushed the narrative that there was significant disunity in the Republican party.

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Two weeks later, poll numbers by Rasmussen noted that Trump had 76% GOP voter support,  while Clinton only had 68% of Democrat voter support. Despite the decline in Democratic support for Clinton, Channel 5  still pushed the narrative that all is well with the Democratic Party.  

This is a classic example of bias by spin. If 73% of party support constitutes dis-unity, then what does 68% support constitute WFRV?

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