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Opinion Study: CNN, MSNBC took sharp left turns during Trump’s presidency

A study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that CNN and MSNBC swerved radically to the left between 2016 and 2021. A sharp cable-news divergence opened up during prime-time hours, the study found. The findings jibe with general understandings of the medium, but Fox News, for instance, rates more conservative than CNN, MSNBC and MSNBC throughout the study period. The analysis goes deeper, showing that despite the ideological gap among the networks, they all tended to move in similar partisan directions over the course of the study, which looked at the period from Jan. 1, 2010, to March 4, 2021. All three networks generally moved rightward over the last six years of the Obama presidency.

As Trump’s lies and outrages mounted, rational news analysis exposed them. CNN and MSNBC flooded their airwaves with this form of pushback. Fox News's prime-time hosts consistently rooted for Trump or attacked his critics. The data tracks with what news consumers experienced on an anecdotal level, the Erik Wemple Blog says. CNN's migration toward liberal commentary got a boost from external forces, including the White House's stiffing CNN on interview requests from Trump, who called for a boycott of the network.