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There’s An Obvious Reason Why Trump Has Gotten ‘Some Negative’ Coverage

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There’s An Obvious Reason Why Trump Has Gotten ‘Some Negative’ Coverage


Reprinted with permission from Media Matters for America.

Recent media analyses have argued that President Donald Trump has received lots of negative news coverage since being sworn into office. But before his supporters inevitably seize on the findings to bash journalists as biased and unfair, there’s important context to keep mind: Based on the fawning over Trump’s address to Congress last week, the press is desperate to tell positive Trump stories — but the administration’s first weeks have created nonstop tumult.

Media coverage of Trump since the election has been flawed in several important ways, but journalists shouldn’t be blamed for reporting on all the self-inflicted wounds Trump and his White House team have caused, because news coverage doesn’t exist in a vacuum. News coverage revolves around … news.

So in that sense, the heavy dose of negative coverage is deserved. And I don’t mean that in a partisan sense (i.e. I disagree with Trump so the press should treat him poorly). I mean that in a journalistic sense: Trump’s presidency is, without qualification, a chaotic mess, so his press coverage ought to reflect that. In this case, “negative” coverage could just be journalists chronicling the confusion Trump has initiated in recent weeks. (Historians and veteran Washington correspondents recently confirmed to Media Matters that Trump’s first month was more “chaotic” than other presidential first months in history.)

And here’s what completely punctures the right-wing claim that the Beltway press is somehow out to get Trump: Last week, when the president gave a supposedly “normal” speech to Congress and embraced a more “presidential” tone, the pundit class instantly draped him in praise.

Rushing past the substance of the speech, which was built on a foundation of exaggerations and obvious falsehoods, the chattering class went ga-ga over Trump. The swooning fawn-fest for the deeply unpopular president was telling because it signaled the pundit class’s eagerness to boost and praise Trump — if only he would give them more chances.

By wrapping his agenda in radical initiatives, lashing out wildly at his enemies, and generally conducting himself like an adolescent, Trump has provided pundits with scant opportunities to praise him, or to portray him as presidential. The fawning, low-bar coverage of his speech to Congress proved that if given a chance to swoon over Trump, journalists will gladly do so.

As for the analysis of his negative press coverage to date, it’s not surprising.

Writing in The Washington Post, university professors Stephen Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter – along with Roland Schatz, president of the media research firm Media Tenor – recently explained that based on Media Tenor’s analysis of a few hundred stories on Trump from NBC Nightly NewsCBS Evening News, and Fox News’ Special Report, the new president has received far more negative coverage than positive coverage

Just 3 percent of the reports on NBC and CBS were deemed to be positive, while 43 percent were negative and 54 percent were neutral. (Note: On Fox’s Special Report, 12 percent of the Trump reports were positive, compared to 25 percent negative and 63 percent neutral.)

Meanwhile, the conservative Washington Times reported on a study by the pro-Republican Newsbusters, which found that the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts had produced overwhelmingly negative (88 percent) coverage for Trump.

The Newsbusters study essentially proves my point. For example, the report criticizes CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley for beginning the February 6 newscast by announcing, “It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality.”

Left unsaid by Newsbusters was the fact that Pelley’s “divorced from reality” comment came while he was reporting on a statement Trump made that was in fact divorced from reality — namely, his completely baseless claim on February 6 that the media intentionally covers up and fails to report on terror attacks.

Nonetheless, I have little doubt Trump has received some “negative” network news coverage this year. Conservatives would have you think that’s due to media bias – that the press is just being mean to Trump.

From National Review:

Normally, the election of a new president is a moment when everyone takes a deep breath, partisan passions subside a little, and the incoming president enjoys at least a few weeks to implement his stated promises. In this case, no such luck.

Even the authors writing in the Post suggested that an explanation for what they called the “unusual” amount of harsh coverage could be Trump’s frequent attacks on the news media as an “enemy” of the people.

But what they glossed over when trying to explain Trump’s “unusual” coverage was Trump’s own extremist behavior. The authors stressed that President Barack Obama “received much less negative coverage than Trump has received at the start of their respective presidencies.”

But here’s the thing. During his first weeks in office, Obama did not issue an unconstitutional travel ban for seven Muslim-majority countries, fire the acting attorney general, assail a department store chain after it stopped selling his daughter’s products, insist millions of illegal votes were cast in the general election, obsess over the size of his inauguration crowd, conduct foreign policy via tweets, give a political operative a full seat on the National Security Council, accuse his Oval Office predecessor of wiretapping him, fire his national security adviser after he lied about contacts with Russian officials, sign an executive order to build a $20 billion wall along the Mexican border, spend most of his weekends at a Florida resort, or hold one of the most bizarre, off-the-wall press conferences in White House history.

You get the idea.

IMAGE: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally with supporters in Council Bluffs, Iowa, U.S. September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst



  1. ⭐️ I Am Helpy ⭐️ March 7, 2017

    Yes – he’s an incompetent failure who committed treason.

    1. PrecipitousDrop March 8, 2017

      Trump, crazy to begin with, is being driven to a raging froth by Obama’s continued, successful, confident silence.

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  3. bojimbo26 March 8, 2017

    Simples : He`s a Dickhead .

  4. Dapper Dan March 8, 2017

    Oh man I genuinely miss our real President Barack Obama. His nickname was no drama Obama. He took the job seriously and tried working with the GOP who just snarled at him. He tried to seek input from them on bipartisanship to help craft a healthcare plan both parties would be happy with. Now with a mentally ill President ready to repeal the ACA and replace it with something no one wants this is another attempt to rollback a very successful Obama program even red state constituents want to keep. We’ve made a 180 degree turn on our leadership seeing rollbacks and cutbacks on everything from the EPA to the IRS. Is this truly the change people wanted ? Total chaos daily and someone close to Trump Steve Bannon who’s determined to destroy everything

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 8, 2017

      Those were much better days, aside from Congress being their usual truculent selves. Now we have a roving mess called “The Trump Presidency”—a raging hurricane out of control.

    2. Oddworld March 8, 2017

      Obama wasn’t perfect but he tried to govern properly by using his intellect and empathy. Democratic voters failed him in the coming years by not turning out in the midterms. I was naive enough to believe that more people would engage themselves in the Democratic process after he was elected. It turns out I was only half right. Many did engage but it was the opposition that did so. We can blame gerrymandering and other Republican shenanigans all we want but the truth is ultimately it was the Democratic electorate who made it difficult for President Obama.

    3. itsfun March 9, 2017

      Obama did everything he could to turn the U.S into a third world nation. He blamed law enforcement every time a officer had to shot someone to save their own life. He never bothered to learn the facts of what happened, he jumped to conclusions and blamed law enforcement. ACA is a complete failure and is going broke and running out of insurance companies that will even offer a policy. The exchanges are dwindling every day. People paying 6000 a year for rates with a 6000 deductible is not health care, it is just having a insurance card that is of no use. We have a military with old useless equipment. Airplanes are grounded because of their age and no parts to fix them. Obama drew red lines then backed off them. Fast and furious, Benghazi, IRS targeting conservatives groups, wiretapping reporters (Rosen). Health care will let you keep your doctor and current insurance plan. Health care will save every family 2500 a year. Obama was a complete failure with foreign policy, immigration, and the economy. Only two term President ever to have our nation in a war somewhere for all 8 years of his terms. He gave Iran a great deal of money with his deal that isn’t working to stop nuclear weapon building. He completely ignored North Korea and look at what they are doing now. Obama was a complete failure as President.

      1. PrecipitousDrop March 9, 2017

        I get that you really miss him. Like, a LOT, OK?
        But he’s gone.
        It’s time to move on.

      2. iamproteus March 10, 2017

        Love your “alternate facts” there, itsy. They so perfectly accentuate your undeniable stupidity. Way to go!

  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth March 8, 2017

    It’s a huuuge victory if Trump can brush his teeth all by himself, never mind deliver a once-in-a-lifetime sensible tele-prompted spiel filled with vacuous and pious-sounding nothing.

    1. Independent1 March 9, 2017

      Actually it was not good that the ‘fawning’ press went overboard in praising Trump’s speech to Congress when although he gave a more tempered, somewhat presidential speech in tone, it was still filled with gross exaggerations and outright lies. By fawning over his speech without taking the time to point out the fabrications of reality Trump included in his speech, I’m sure the press created in the minds of millions of Americans that what Trump said were in fact facts.

      So that millions of Americans now believe Trump’s lies about many social aspects of America were truths; for example his falsehoods about America’s crime rate being high when it’s the lowest it’s been in 50 years; and the false perception Trump projects that immigrants have a negative affect on the life of the average American when in fact illegal immigrants have a very positive impact on the lives of the majority of Americans; their work creates millions of jobs for native-born Americans and they help drive the economy.


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