Approaching the end of his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump “has received the most hostile press treatment of any incoming American president, with the broadcast networks punishing him with coverage that has been 89% negative.
“The networks largely ignored important national priorities, such as jobs and the fight against ISIS, in favor of a news agenda that has been dominated by anti-Trump controversies and which closely matches what would be expected from an opposition party,” according to a new study released on Wednesday from MRC Newsbusters.
“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.”
In contrast, President Barack Obama’s first months in office were rewarded with mostly positive spin, with stories that discussed the economic agenda of the incoming liberal administration in glowing terms.
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.
According to their findings, “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.”
It was revealed that only five topics, including Trump’s wiretap claim, the repeal and replace of Obamacare, Trump’s travel ban, the Russian probe into whether the election was hacked, and immigration “accounted for roughly two-fifths (43%) of the whopping 1,900 minutes of total network airtime devoted to the Trump administration.”
However, those five topics accounted for more than 60 percent of the negative coverage heaped on the administration, because the networks covered each topic with “an overwhelmingly hostile (more than 90% negative) slant.”
President Trump’s temporary travel ban on seven (later reduced to six) countries that are either failed states or otherwise safe havens for Islamic terrorism was repeatedly attacked as networks spent 223 minutes painting the order as something of which Americans should be ashamed.
All three networks filled their newscasts with soundbites from people who were outraged by the order. For instance, “I feel ashamed to be living in this country now,” said one traveler on a January 28 broadcast on CBS.
In another example, ABC weekend anchor Cecilia Vega said the order had created “chaos, confusion, and fear.”
“It feels like a nightmare,” a Syrian resident of Pennsylvania told NBC after his relatives’ arrival was delayed because of the order.
“There was no balance to this debate, with our analysts tallying 287 negative statements on this topic vs. a mere 21 positive, which computes to an astounding 93% negative spin,” according to the report, which used the following methodology:
Our measure of spin was designed to isolate the networks’ own slant, not the back-and-forth of partisan politics. Thus, our analysts ignored soundbites which merely showcased the traditional party line (Republicans supporting Trump, Democrats criticizing him), and instead tallied evaluative statements which 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.
Using these criteria, 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.
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