Mixed Coverage of Bannon Rare Appearance

All three networks covered Steve Bannon’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference differently, but why did CBS spend a significant amount of time on him, while NBC and ABC didn’t?

On Feb. 23, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon made a rare appearance at CPAC. CBS’s Scott Pelley called Bannon “the driving political force behind the president,” and spent over two minutes highlighting his appearance at the conference.

Only CBS  led its broadcast with Bannon.

First, it showed Bannon saying the Trump agenda was stated in the campaign speeches and that “we’re a nation with a culture and a reason for being and I think that’s what unites us.”

Next, Bannon said the administration’s goals are national security, economic nationalism and deconstruction of the administrative state.

“I think one of the most pivotal moments in modern American history was his [Trump’s] immediate withdrawal from TBP,” Bannon said. “That got us out of a trade deal and let our sovereignty come back to ourselves.”

Correspondent Margaret Brennan said Bannon repeatedly attacked the media and showed him calling the mass media “corporatist” and “globalist”.

“As more jobs get better, they’re going to continue to fight.  If you think they’re going to give your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken,” Bannon said. “Everyday it is going to be a fight.”

At the conference, Bannon sat next to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, but Priebus was covered for less than 30 seconds, saying he was conditioned to hearing why Trump wouldn’t win the election.

Screenshot from NBC News Youtube channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sHYyvxDNZQ

Lastly, it showed Bannon saying the president will continue to deliver his campaign promises.

Is Steve Bannon newsworthy enough to lead a broadcast?

Washington Post Columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. said CBS was correct to lead its broadcast with Bannon.

“We have heard over and over from Conway and Priebus. Bannon rarely speaks publicly, so hearing his take was unusual and worthy of attention,” Dionne said.

NBC also covered the CPAC story and called it a “Trump team takeover”. The story also showed Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, answering questions, and Richard Spencer, a white nationalist leader, being kicked out of the conference.

NBC spent less than a minute on Bannon, calling him the “power behind the populist brand that propelled Donald Trump to victory.”

It also showed him saying “give your country back without a fight.”

Notably, NBC didn’t show Bannon attacking the media or mentioning the Trump agenda.

ABC spent less than a minute on what Bannon said, calling him “the president’s most powerful and controversial aid.”

Again, the story used his statement, “give your country back without a fight,” and showed him saying his job is to draw the path to help complete the Trump agenda.

“Bannon has far more influence on policy than Conway, who is a spokesperson, or Priebus, whose role is mostly organizational,” Dionne said. “Bannon is more his own character.”

Shelby Smith

Shelby Smith is a senior double major in Multi-platform Journalism and Film Studies at the University of Maryland. She was a sports copy editor for Unwind Magazine and has interned for Washington Gardener Magazine. She has studied how to capture, edit and upload pictures, videos and audio at College Park. Smith has reported on several beats, including politics, courts and city council meetings. She hopes to graduate this Spring, start her own entertainment podcast and to find a job as a public relations person in the film industry.

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