President Donald Trump has been in office less than 100 days, and yet, a definite pattern has emerged in how the media covers his administration.
According to a new report by the Media Research Center (MRC), 89% of all media coverage of the President has been negative. It highlights a distinct focus on controversies, including influence and ties to Russia within the Trump administration. This coverage, MRC says, largely ignores major political victories and positive advancements by the Trump White House. That includes positive word on the economy and job growth, as well as the War on Terror.
The five major topics the media covered all featured overwhelmingly negative views and statements on the Trump administration. Those topics (immigration executive orders, Russian hacking of Democrat emails, Obamacare repeal and replace, the illegal immigration crackdown, and Trump Tower wiretapping) all featured a distinct Trump media bias.
For example, President Trump’s push to invigorate the economy and bring back American jobs received a mere 18 minutes of coverage (less than one percent of all airtime devoted to the administration), while his moves to renegotiate various international trade deals resulted in less than 10 minutes of TV news airtime.
For this study, MRC analysts reviewed all of ABC, CBS and NBC’s evening news coverage of Trump and his new administration from January 20 through April 9, including weekends. Coverage during those first 80 days was intense, as the networks churned out 869 stories about the new administration (737 full reports and 132 brief, anchor-read items), plus an additional 140 full reports focused on other topics but which also discussed the new administration.
Five big topics accounted for roughly two-fifths (43%) of the whopping 1,900 minutes of total network airtime devoted to the Trump administration. But those five topics accounted for a much larger share (63%) of the negative coverage hurled at the administration, as the networks covered each with an overwhelmingly hostile (more than 90% negative) slant.
MRC analysts tallied 1,687 evaluative statements about the Trump administration, of which 1,501 (89%) were negative vs. a mere 186 (11%) which were positive.
The networks spent 223 minutes on the battle over the President’s executive orders aimed at temporarily banning immigration from seven (later reduced to six) countries that are either failed states or otherwise safe havens for Islamic terrorism. All three networks showed their disdain by filling their newscasts with soundbites from those distressed by the order. “I feel ashamed to be living in this country now,” one traveler was shown saying on CBS’s January 28 broadcast, while ABC weekend anchor Cecilia Vega said the order had created “chaos, confusion and fear.”
Not only was the subject matter overwhelming negative, media coverage often got personal. Newsbusters details.
On March 8, CBS’s Scott Pelley suggested President Trump had psychological problems, asking longtime Democratic official Leon Panetta: “Is it appropriate to ask whether the President is having difficulty with rationality?”
The Trump media bias is also evident in how positive subjects were treated. The comparison to how the media handled President Obama in the same time frame is telling.
Other topics, ostensibly far more important to voters, were pushed far down the network news agenda. The entire process, from nomination to confirmation, of new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch received just 69 minutes of network evening news coverage. The ongoing war against ISIS, including the tragic raid in Yemen that killed a Navy SEAL, was given just 57 minutes of coverage.
Eight years ago, the networks’ treatment of President Obama’s first 100 days was very different. Back then, the networks delivered most of their coverage to Obama’s key policy priorities, topped by the nearly $1 trillion “stimulus” package (150 stories, or 15% of the total). The network spin for that legislation: 58% positive, vs. 42% negative.
As MRC analysts calculated at the time, the networks also doled mostly positive coverage for Obama’s intervention in the housing market (59% positive), his decision to use taxpayer money to fund embryo-destroying stem cell research (82% positive), as well as his push for more government action on global warming (78% positive).
“The President’s first seven weeks have been a whirlwind, with often dramatic movement in all directions, on all fronts: the economy, health care, two wars and today education reform,” then-anchor Brian Williams marveled on the March 10, 2009 NBC Nightly News.
When the President shares the media’s liberal mindset, journalists are willing to be seen as cheerleaders, shaking their pom-poms on behalf of the White House. But when voters select a President who challenges the liberal establishment, those cheerleaders morph into unleashed pitbulls, ferociously attacking both the President and his agenda.