There was no press honeymoon for President Trump during his first month in office. A meticulous new study by the Media Research Center finds that 88 percent of the broadcast news coverage of Mr. Trump and his team was “hostile” during the first 30 days of office.
The coverage was intense and plentiful. The study, which analyzed both tone and content for evening newscasts on ABC, NBC and CBS, found that the “Big Three” networks produced 16 hours of coverage on the new president and his staff. That is over half — 54 percent — of their total coverage for the month.
“Our measure of media tone excludes soundbites from identified partisans, focusing instead on tallying the evaluative statements made by reporters and the nonpartisan talking heads (experts and average citizens) included in their stories,” write Rich Noyes, research director for the conservative press watchdog, and fellow analyst Mike Ciandella.
“In their coverage of Trump’s first month, the networks crowded their stories with quotes from citizens angry about many of his policies, while providing relatively little airtime to Trump supporters.” the pair noted. “And the networks’ anchors and reporters often injected their own anti-Trump editorial tone into the coverage. ‘It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality,’ CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley snidely began his February 6 broadcast.
“A new American president is always a big story, but TV news is obsessed with the Trump administration — and not in a good way,” they observed.
The study found that Mr. Trump’s call for a temporary ban on travel from seven specific Middle Eastern nations drew the most negative coverage — over three hours. Other favorite showcases for negative coverage of Mr. Trump included the border war between the U.S. and Mexico, battle over his cabinet confirmation picks and the president’s “complicated relationship” with Russia.
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“Further highlighting the hostile tone of these newscasts, nearly an hour of coverage (56 minutes) was given over to anti-Trump protests on various topics, with nearly one-fifth (82 out of 442) of the Trump stories or briefs aired during these 30 days including at least some discussion of an anti-Trump protest,” the study reported.
Mr. Trump may be accustomed to the treatment by now, however. A previous Media Research Center report found that 91 percent of the broadcast coverage about his campaign was also negative — deemed “twelve weeks of Trump bashing” by Mr. Noyes and his team.