There is no question about it, Donald Trump gets more media attention than Joe Biden, significantly more. Whether or not it’s positive or fair coverage can be debated, that likely depends on what network people are watching and whether they are watching news shows or opinion programming. For a while, you could argue that Biden wasn’t providing enough material for networks to cover, but in the last few weeks, the former Vice President has been holding more events. Both Thursday and last week Joe Biden delivered remarks that CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News all carried the live event.

This could mark a shift. But before this, the three networks haven’t dedicated a lot of time to Biden’s events. Dean Obeidallah, host of the The Dean Obeidallah Show on SiriusXM radio told News & Guts:

He just had an event (last month) in Pennsylvania that received little coverage. I’m sure if Trump did the same event he’d have seen more cable news coverage. The bias in cable news coverage is towards ratings and Trump delivers on that. Biden doesn’t.  It’s a business, plain and simple so they will never equally cover Biden. I just hope Biden gets enough coverage to make his case to the American people.  Even if Biden wins (Which I believe he will), I bet the media still covers Trump more after he’s out of office –for the first few months at least–because he will be better for ratings.

We went to one of the top journalism organizations to get their thoughts on this. Kelly McBride, Vice President at the Poynter Institute pointed out there really is no requirement to give candidates “equal time” anymore. She points out, “The FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. They’d stop enforcing it as soon as Reagan was elected. Any parts of the law that weren’t repealed expired in 2011, but the FCC wasn’t enforcing them anyway.” Because of this, she says:

“Almost no one factors the sitting president’s “air time” into their calculation for equal time, because it’s almost impossible to do in the best of circumstances.” 

Instead, most broadcasters and text-based newsrooms attempt to give campaign events equal time. And even then, because there is no longer a requirement, a lot of newsrooms spend very little time thinking about equal time at all.
At the Ethics Center at Poynter, we have worked with a few newsrooms to craft a presidential political campaign strategy and most of those documents involve an embrace of fairness.”