ABC, CBS and NBC have churned out a massive amount of coverage for protests during the past two weeks (1,042 minutes on their morning and evening news programs), but these same networks have spent almost no airtime letting viewers know about the injuries and death inflicted on police officers during these two weeks of social unrest. In fact, as of June 9, not a single protest-related instance of violence against police has received more than 40 seconds from any of these networks.
For this study, MRC analysts examined all morning and evening newscast coverage on the three major broadcast networks between May 28 and June 9, documenting every mention of violence against law enforcement officers. Of five major incidents identified by analysts, none received more than 40 seconds of coverage from any network.
On the night of May 29, federal law enforcement officer Dave Patrick Underwood was killed in a drive-by shooting while providing security at a U.S. courthouse in Oakland. The incident was labeled “an act of domestic terrorism” by Acting Deputy DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli. Underwood’s death received just 10 seconds of airtime from NBC; the incident received 14 seconds from CBS and 19 seconds from ABC.
Attacks on police ramped up considerably on the night of June 1. That evening, four St. Louis police officers were shot by someone in a crowd of protesters and were taken to a nearby hospital. NBC spared only 14 seconds for the attack; CBS offered 15 seconds, and ABC spent 29 seconds.
Elsewhere in St. Louis that same night, retired Police Captain David Dorn was shot and killed while attempting to protect a friend’s business from looters. NBC spared just 9 seconds for Dorn; CBS ran 22 seconds of coverage, and ABC offered 39 seconds.
Also on June 1, a police officer in Las Vegas was hospitalized after being shot in the head. According to his family, he will likely have to use a ventilator for the rest of his life. NBC failed to notice the incident entirely, while CBS spent a mere 7 seconds on it, and ABC ran 40 seconds.
On the night of June 3, an NYPD officer was ambushed and stabbed in the neck, leading to an altercation in which two other officers were shot. That incident received 20 seconds from NBC and 38 from ABC, while CBS did not directly reference the attack.
Another police killing — the June 6 ambush and murder of a sheriff’s deputy in Santa Cruz, California — was not immediately linked to the protests and social unrest, but it also received miniscule coverage: 2 minutes, 14 seconds on ABC; 50 seconds on CBS; and 46 seconds on NBC.
These violent incidents don’t fit with the broadcast networks’ narrative that the last two weeks of protests have been “mostly peaceful.” Perhaps that explains their repeated glossing over of attacks against law enforcement.