When news broke on Monday afternoon that the FBI had raided the home and office of Michael Cohen, President Trump’s longtime attorney, it was a bombshell.
This was no ordinary move in the government’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s conduct in 2016. This was a search of a lawyer, triggering a complex process designed to protect the confidentiality that exists between a lawyer and his client. The move was approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department, with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein certainly aware of the legal and political firestorm that he was igniting.
In short order, news of the searches burst to the forefront of every major media outlet. Well, almost every outlet. The story broke shortly before 4 p.m.; about an hour later, it led the websites of the Drudge Report, ABC News, CNN, NBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post.
But not Fox News Channel.
On air, the situation wasn’t much different. Fox News covered the story heavily in the first hour after it broke, but that coverage then tapered off. Coverage on CNN and MSNBC stayed heavy throughout the evening.
In prime time, Cohen was mentioned 116 times on CNN shows from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. His name came up 229 times on MSNBC in that period, nearly once a minute. On Fox News? Thirty-four times.
Between when the story broke and midnight, Cohen’s name was mentioned in 287 15-second blocks on CNN. On MSNBC the total was 364. On Fox News, 112.
Each hour of Fox News’s prime-time coverage on Monday led with the news. Here’s how each contextualized it.
- Martha MacCallum, “The Story”: “Moments ago the president giving a forceful defense over the events breaking late today — the FBI raiding the offices of his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen. There are reports tonight they were looking for bank records. We don’t know what they found. We do know the president is not holding back on his position regarding the special counsel, Bob Mueller, and his team.”
- Tucker Carlson, “Tucker Carlson Tonight”: “Well, that raid reportedly is connected to the Stormy Daniels story. CNN covered wall-to-wall and of course Stormy Daniels way more important than any war with Syria.”
- Sean Hannity, “Hannity”: “President Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen just had his office, his home and his hotel that he was staying in raided by the FBI today in an early morning raid. Now, what that means is Mueller’s witch-hunt investigation is now a runaway train that is clearly careening off the tracks.”
- Laura Ingraham, “The Ingraham Angle”: “Among the many questions we have tonight, is this a major overreach or a sign that the president’s attorney is in serious legal jeopardy? Either way, I think we should all be concerned about the detailed leaks coming out of these investigations.”
In early March, Suffolk University found that 81 percent of those who cited Fox News as their most-trusted news source viewed President Trump favorably. Nine percent of them viewed Mueller favorably.