It has been well-documented that Trump has far and away garnered the most media attention of any president to date, and a report by conservative group MRC NewsBusters shows that coverage has been almost entirely negative.
In an analysis of evaluative statements about Trump made during the evening broadcasts on major networks–ABC, NBC, and CBS–Rich Noyes and Mike Ciandella found that of 4,144 such evaluative statements, 3,712 (90%) were negative, and only 432 (10%) were positive.
In order to gauge the network’s own reporting, the researchers ignored simple partisan stances in their analysis. Thus, Democrats attacking Trump and Republicans praising him were not considered “evaluative statements.” Statements that met their criteria imparted “a clear positive or negative tone to the story, such as statements from experts presented as non-partisan, voters, or opinionated statements from the networks’ own reporters.”
The findings are hardly surprising; the media vs. Trump narrative has been central to characterizing his presidency, thus far.
The data also supported the notion that the volume of Trump media coverage has been greater than every other president, as well. As of Aug. 31, coverage of the administration has totaled nearly 74 hours (4,418 minutes) of airtime, or about 39 percent of all evening news coverage. Coverage of the Obama administration for all of 2015 and 2016 totaled 59 hours (3,544 minutes), or roughly 10 percent of the available broadcast airtime. So, in 10 months’ time, Trump has already garnered more nightly news coverage than Obama did in his entire final two years in office.
The ample time spent on Trump isn’t to tout his successes, however. Noyes and Ciandella found that in the last three months, 91 percent of Trump’s news coverage has been negative. Even during his first three months in office, in which new presidents are usually granted some leeway, 89 percent of Trump coverage was negative.
The media firestorm over his unexpected victory carried into his first three months as president, with a whopping 49 percent of nightly news coverage going to Trump in January, February, and March. That rate has since subsided and now averages 32 percent.
Noyes and Ciandella ponder whether the typical summer downturn in the news cycle will continue, or whether Trump will continue to be the media lightning rod he’s been. Four topics have kept him in the headlines: the Russia investigation, the repeal and replace of Obamacare, North Korean nuclear proliferation and his response to the racial violence in Charlottesville. From the beginning of June to the end of August, those topics have enjoyed 415, 176, 136, and 97 minutes of coverage, respectively. Unsurprisingly, that coverage has also been negative. The topics garnered 94 percent, 97 percent, 86 percent, and 97 percent negative evaluations in the nightly news slots.
However, a recent positive turn suggests that Trump can get on the liberal media’s good side by continuing to cooperate with the Democrats. MSNBC’s Mark Halperin said as much: “Trump will get good coverage if he works with Democrats for as far as the eye can see. It will produce more liberal policies, which a lot of people in the media like.”
Trump has recently taken Democratic stances on the DACA program and fiscal policy.
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