got a cite for that jeff?
please enlighten me
2017: The Year the News Media Went to War Against a President
The first year of the Trump administration was as turbulent for the news media as it was for politics, with many journalists dropping any pretense of professionalism to become strident opponents of the President. As a proxy for the larger establishment media, the Media Research Center analyzed every moment of coverage of President Trump last year on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, usually seen by more than 25 million people each night. The major findings:
■ The Trump presidency was the biggest story of the year, accounting for one out of every three minutes of evening news airtime — nearly 100 hours in total.
■ The tone of coverage has been incessantly hostile, especially for a new President in his honeymoon year: 90% negative, vs. just 10% positive (These percentages do not include neutral statements).
■ More than two-fifths of evening news coverage of the President (43%) focused on controversies, not policies, with the Russia investigation alone accounting for one-fifth of all Trump coverage (1,234 minutes).
■ Despite their massive coverage of Russia, the networks had almost no airtime for questions about how the investigation began, or whether special counsel Robert Mueller’s current investigation is biased.
Now the details of our year-long study:
■ The Trump Presidency Was by Far the Biggest Story of 2017: From Inauguration Day (January 20) through the end of 2017 (December 31), the three evening newscasts aired 3,430 stories that talked about either President Trump or his administration, totaling 99 hours, 3 minutes of airtime. This amounts to approximately 34 percent of all evening news airtime (excluding commercials), meaning that one out of every three minutes of broadcast evening news coverage was devoted to the Trump story last year.
In contrast, MRC analysis of these same newscasts in 2015 and 2016 found that airtime devoted to President Obama and his administration amounted to approximately ten percent of overall evening news coverage in those years, or less than one-third the level of Trump’s coverage.
■ Coverage of Trump Has Been Incessantly Negative: Reviewing all of this coverage, our analysts catalogued 5,883 evaluative statements about the President or his administration from either reporters, anchors or non-partisan sources such as experts or voters. Only about 10 percent of those comments (617) were positive, compared with 5,266 (90%) which were negative — an unparalleled level of media hostility for a President in his first year in office.
There were only three months in 2017 when Trump’s level of good press rose above 10 percent on the evening news: January, when TV coverage of his inauguration included a few stories about the positive reaction among Trump voters; April, when the network coverage mentioned supportive reaction to the cruise missile strikes against Syria; and in December, when Congress finally passed a major tax reform package, a Trump legislative success. Even in those months, however, the balance of TV’s coverage of Trump was still hugely negative — 85 percent negative in January, 82 percent in April, and 85 percent in December.
The media’s negative approach has been essentially consistent regardless of which issues or controversies were prevalent in the news. For example, network TV coverage was no more hostile in August (91% negative), when Trump came under intense criticism for his reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, related to a white supremacist march, than it was in most other months.
Rather, the evening newscasts have provided extremely heavy coverage of some stories (Russia, the travel ban, and myriad personal controversies) where they evidently believed heavy criticism is justified, while they barely mention other topics where the administration has a positive story to tell. (Tomorrow, we will report on six of Trump’s accomplishments that were essentially ignored by the networks.)
■ A Huge Percentage of Network News Coverage Focused on Controversies, Not Policy: More than two-fifths of evening news coverage of the Trump administration (43%, or 42 hours, 37 minutes) centered on various controversies associated with the President and his top aides. The Russia investigation was the networks’ favorite topic, with an astonishing 20 hours, 34 minutes of coverage, or more than one-fifth of all Trump coverage last year.
Discussion of all public policy issues combined amounted to 46 hours, 58 minutes of coverage, or roughly 47 percent of all Trump coverage. The five most-frequently covered policy issues: the effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare (475 minutes); the nuclear showdown with North Korea (364 minutes); immigration policy, including ramped-up deportations and a potential border wall (258 minutes); the temporary travel ban and the ensuing court fight (251 minutes); and the ultimately successful push for comprehensive tax reform (222 minutes).
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; howler minds howl about people.