Accuracy in Media

There are accurate headlines, then there are misleading and inaccurate headlines in the mainstream media. CNBC’s latest headline on the 2020 primary should be categorized in the latter due to its misleading narrative.

CNBC’s headline on 2020 fundraising numbers read, “The 2020 Democratic field is outraising Trump by a huge margin — that didn’t happen to Obama or Bush.” But in the first few paragraphs, CNBC admitted that Trump outraised individual candidates, therefore debunking its own headline and narrative.

CNBC wrote, “The president has blown past individual Democratic presidential campaigns in fundraising for his 2020 reelection bid. But the crowded primary field together more than tripled his 2019 cash haul.” It pivoted back to its initial narrative that Trump is in fundraising trouble and said, “No incumbent president this century has been so thoroughly outraised by a field of challengers in the year before a reelection contest.” The article added, “The main Republican challengers to President Barack Obama in 2012 barely took in more than the incumbent in 2011.” Also, according to CNBC, President George W. Bush “narrowly topped his challengers in fundraising in 2003, the year before he won reelection in 2004.”

But CNBC’s narrative glanced over Trump’s significant fundraising advantage over individual candidates. For example, this past quarter, Trump’s re-election campaign raised $46 million, far outpacing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his fundraising haul of $34.5 million (which was the highest among Democratic Party candidates in the quarter).

Other factors also played a part in the Obama and Bush comparisons, such as growing anti-Trump fervor among the Democratic Party since his election in 2016, Obama’s likeability propelling him to victory in 2012, and the American voters trusted Bush in 2004 after his response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Another important factor is that the Democratic Party primary field is crowded, numbering at one point over two-dozen candidates, even outnumbering the 2012 Republican presidential primary field. With more candidates, theoretically, there will be higher fundraising totals.

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