Empirical Data On News Coverage Indicts Media And Vindicates Trump

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Will Ricciardella Social Media Strategist and Politics Writer
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The media’s coverage of President Donald Trump’s first 100 days was overwhelmingly more negative than the three previous administrations, according to Pew Research Center data.

The media’s “evaluations of President Trump were far more negative and less positive than those of his [three] predecessors,” according to the Pew Research study. Negative media coverage of Trump’s first 60 days in office made up 62 percent of total media coverage, three times higher than President Obama’s and more than double the negative coverage for both former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, according to Pew Research.

During the presidential campaign, The New York Times’ Jim Rutenberg wrote that “working journalists” who believe President Trump is a “demagogue,” playing into the nation’s “worst racist and nationalistic tendencies,” must throw out “textbook American journal[ism]” and cover him in a way he’s never been covered before. Rutenberg added that if “[journalists] view a Trump presidency as potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that.”

Rutenberg’s proclamation played out in the data.

“[C]overage of Trump’s early days in office moved further away from a focus on the policy agenda (31% of stories, compared with 50% for Obama, 65% for Bush and 58% for Clinton) and toward character and leadership,” according to Pew. The media was less focused on policies, and far more focused on shedding a negative light on Trump’s personality. Certainly some of the disparity can be attributed Trump’s bellicosity. But it is hard to deny the impact that the media’s ideological crusade against the Trump administration has on the numbers.

Further corroborating the data, media outlets have seen surges in the ratings correlating with their hostile anti-Trump coverage.

Network news, as well as cable news outlets like MSNBC and CNN, have enjoyed a ratings surge based on viewers’ taste for negative Trump coverage. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post have also seen an uptick in digital subscriptions based on coverage, which oftentimes leads to multiple corrections or retractions.

During all of Trump’s first 100 days in office, the numbers get even worse. “[O]nly about one-in-ten stories (11%) delivered an overall positive assessment of the administration’s words or actions. Four times as many (44%) offered a negative assessment, while the remaining 45% were neither positive nor negative,” Pew noted.


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