- A study released last month found that news coverage of President Donald Trump’s first months in office differed significantly among outlets with right- and left-leaning audiences.
- It also found that early news coverage of the Trump administration was much more negative than that of other modern presidencies.
A Pew Research Center study released last month found that news coverage of President Donald Trump’s first months was significantly different among outlets with right-leaning audiences and those with left-leaning or ideologically diverse audiences.
Overall, Trump’s early media coverage was much more negative than early coverage of other modern presidencies.
While Trump constantly admonishes the press, calling it “fake news” and “the enemy of the American people,” and attacks individual reporters, some of his aides, including top counselor Kellyanne Conway, have focused their complaints on the preponderance of negative stories about the administration. Conway says the media provides “incomplete coverage” of Trump, failing to report on the more positive stories and choosing political over policy coverage.
“I think we need a full and free press in our nation, of course,”Conway said at conference last month. “But with that freedom comes responsibility. So my grievance is never about fake news. I talk about incomplete coverage.”
The Pew study found that while news outlets – regardless of the political leanings of their audiences – largely reported on the same issues, and similarly focused on character and leadership rather than policy, during the first months of the Trump administration, they included different types of sources and assessed the president differently.
Overall, news stories concerning Trump’s first 100 days were four times more likely to provide a negative assessment than a positive one, making his coverage far more negative than that of his predecessors.
Just 5% of media coverage of Trump’s first 60 days was positive, compared to 42% of President Barack Obama’s coverage, 22% of President George W. Bush’s coverage, and 27% of stories about President Bill Clinton.
Pew also found discrepancies between outlets with right-leaning audiences versus those with left-leaning or ideologically diverse audiences. Those with more conservative readers and viewers were less likely to cite multiple types of sources, included more positive and fewer negative assessments of Trump, and their reporters were less likely to challenge an assertion made by the president or the administration.
The vast majority of stories from other outlets cited multiple source types, including experts, administration officials, and lawmakers, and were double as likely to include comments from both Democratic and Republican members of Congress.
The study assessed more than 3,000 television, radio, and web stories from 24 outlets over the course of Trump’s first 100 days in office.
A full list of outlets included in the study can be found here.
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