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Comparing media coverage of Limbaugh, Bashir insults

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The conservative Media Research Center has crunched some numbers, comparing the national news media's coverage of separate remarks made by conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh in 2012 and MSNBC's liberal commentator Martin Bashir just this month.

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Limbaugh fell under fire during the 2012 presidential election for calling a Georgetown student a "slut" for publicly advocating for free birth control. More recently, but to a lesser extent according to MRC's numbers, Bashir was criticized for suggesting former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) be on the receiving end of a gross act.

From the MRC:

From the 10 days after Limbaugh made his insult (February 29, 2012 through March 9, 2012), major newspapers mentioned the controversy in 260 separate stories. By contrast, Bashir’s Palin-bashing was mentioned just 8 times in the ten days following his insult (November 15 through November 24).

On television, only FNC (Fox News Channel) was consistent in its coverage. Ten days after Bashir attacked Palin, Fox covered it in 14 separate instances. One year previously, Fox News mentioned the Fluke controversy in 16 different stories. According to Nexis, CNN mentioned Bashir’s insult just twice in the ten days after he bashed Palin. ... MSNBC and NBC have not mentioned the incident at all.

By contrast, television news was obsessed with going after Limbaugh. CNN mentioned the story on 54 separate occasions. MSNBC covered it 23 times, NBC 13 times, ABC 10 times, and CBS focused on it 8 times. Even the PBS NewsHour ... decided to mention the controversy twice.

As the MRC notes, however, comparing Limbaugh to Bashir isn't a necessarily accurate. Limbaugh's listening audience is far larger than Bashir's viewership, thus resulting in greater influence.

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