Following the third Republican presidential debate of the 2024 campaign Wednesday night, AllSides found media outlets on the left mentioned former President Donald Trump the most out of all GOP candidates (Trump was absent on the stage), and outlets on the right mentioned U.N Ambassador Nikki Haley the most.
This was a contrast from the first debate and second debate, in which similar analyses found Trump was the most-mentioned candidate in news coverage on both sides, despite not being present at any debate.
The debate was held in Miami, Florida. The five top-polling GOP candidates – except for frontrunner and former President Trump, who opted out – duked it out on national television in the debate hosted by NBC News (Lean Left bias).
AllSides analyzed top stories from 16 outlets across the political spectrum to reveal possible media bias, trends, and disparities in coverage.
Outlets on the left mentioned abortion more in their coverage, which was a hot topic of the debate after abortion rights supporters won several statewide races in Tuesday’s elections. A notable ballot measure in Ohio passed to amend its state constitution to provide a right for people to “make and carry out [their] own reproductive decisions.”
As NPR News (Lean Left bias) described it,“Candidates reiterated their anti-abortion-rights stances and debated whether or not they support a federal abortion ban. But there was little attempt to address whether — and how — the Republican party might need to shift its stance or rhetoric on the topic…”
On the other hand, outlets on the right mentioned TikTok, foreign (mostly describing candidates’ foreign policy proposals), and Iran more. Iran was mentioned by a few candidates, most notably South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who, according to Reason (Lean Right bias), “staked out the most aggressive position against Iran, seemingly calling for direct American airstrikes against Iranian military units that have been involved in the recent strikes against U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.”
Outlets on the right also seized on the opportunity to describe the battle between Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy – particularly on the topic of TikTok – which resulted in Haley calling Ramaswamy “scum”: The New York Post (Lean Right bias) ran with the headline, “Nikki Haley rips Vivek Ramaswamy as ‘scum’ in fiery exchange after GOP hopeful calls out her daughter’s TikTok use.”
On the left, the top three GOP candidates mentioned in select news coverage were Trump, Haley, and DeSantis. On the right, it was Haley, Ramaswamy, and a third-place tie between Trump and DeSantis.
The percentages indicate the percent of times each word was used across eight stories from the left or right, or 16 stories in total. For example, a candidate mentioned 1.0% of the time means that for every 1,000 words, the candidate would’ve been mentioned about 10 times. Additional information can be found in the Methodology section.
Haley received considerably more media attention after the third debate* than after the first two, in which the percentage of time outlets mentioned her name on the left or right never surpassed 0.6%. Now, after the third debate, her coverage roughly doubled, catapulting her into the spotlight.
On the flipside, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie received comparably less media coverage from the left and right after the third debate than the first two. His name was mentioned about 0.8% of the time after the first debate, 0.4% of the time after the second debate, and now just 0.2% of the time* from both sides after the third debate.
Who Spoke the Most at the Third Republican Presidential Debate?
In terms of time spoken at the debate, Tim Scott had the most at nearly 19 minutes of speaking time in total. (Note: time spoken is not a direct link to words spoken. Some candidates speak faster than others).
Chris Christie had the least amount of speaking time at the debate, at 16 minutes and 15 seconds – over two minutes less than Scott.
Ramaswamy, who dominated speaking time at the first and second debates, dropped to the middle of the pack for the third debate, at roughly 17.5 minutes of speaking time.
What Outlets on the Left Said
- HuffPost (Left bias) argued that “Republicans who want the party to move beyond Trump said Haley had the best night Wednesday.”
- Vox (Left bias) ran with the headline “0 winners and 5 losers from the third Republican presidential debate,” and gave reasons for why each of the five people on the debate stage lost. The outlet described, “The third Republican presidential debate was more sedate and more substantive than the previous two — but, unfortunately for the candidates onstage, it does not seem likely to be any more consequential.”
- The Daily Beast (Left bias) described the GOP candidates as “unhinged” in its reporting: “With time running out to catch Donald Trump, the five leading candidates to challenge the former president for the GOP presidential nomination resorted to their last, best hope for relevance on the debate stage Wednesday night… Be unhinged.”
What Outlets on the Right Said
- The Washington Times (Lean Right bias) described Ramaswamy’s dissatisfaction with the news media, who “accused them of rigging the last several elections with left-wing media bias and pushing the false claim that Mr. Trump colluded with the Russians to win the 2016 presidential election.”
- Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) declared Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, and the moderators as winners of the debate. Specifically, the outlet said that the moderators “commanded control of the debate, unlike their predecessors. The trio were helped by the candidates not having a right to reply if they were mentioned by an opponent.” It declared the rest of the candidates, including Trump, as losers.
- Daily Mail (Right bias) focused on the fight between Haley and Ramaswamy, and how Haley went after Ramaswamy after he described jewish Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a ‘Nazi’ and ‘comedian in cargo pants’. The Ramaswamy team later walked back the comment.
In total, 16 outlets were analyzed. AllSides pulled the top article on each analyzed outlet’s homepage about the second Republican debate at 11:30pm ET on November 8, 2023, or approximately 1.5 hours after the debate’s end. Articles that were live blogs or about a podcast were not included in the analysis, nor were stories that were published before the debate began at 8:00pm ET.
The outlets analyzed on the left were HuffPost (Left bias), AlterNet (Left bias), Vox (Left bias), The Daily Beast (Left bias), The Associated Press (Lean Left bias), NBC News (Lean Left bias), Politico (Lean Left bias), and NPR – Online News (Lean Left bias). The outlets analyzed on the right were Breitbart (Right bias), Daily Mail (Right bias), The Daily Wire (Right bias), Newsmax (Right bias), The Washington Times (Lean Right bias), Reason (Lean Right bias), The New York Post (Lean Right bias), and Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias).
In total, 8747 words were analyzed from outlets on the left and 4730 words were analyzed from outlets on the right. There are far more politically-focused, left-rated news sources than there are similar sources on the right, which is a key reason for the disparity in words analyzed. The word clouds and bar charts exclude embedded X posts (formerly Twitter).
*Some of the news media outlets analyzed after the third debate were different from the analysis from the first and/or second debate. Exercise comparing results with caution.
Andrew Weinzierl is AllSides’ Bias Research Manager & Data Journalist. He has a Lean Left bias.