Trump’s Media Coverage Has Been Unfair and Unreliable

Tunnel vision is impairing the judgement and perspective of journalists covering the Trump administration.

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White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany addresses her remarks at a White House press briefing Tuesday, May 12, 2020, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

As might be expected, President Trump’s first-term economic accomplishments are now being overshadowed by the devastating economic impacts of the virus COVID-19.

But before the infectious virus ravaged the U.S. economy, how often did we hear of the Trump Administration’s economic successes, or any successes?

A Harvard analysis of news coverage during President Trump’s first 100-days in office found the following:

“…except for his court-challenged immigration orders, the press paid only minimal attention to Trump’s executive orders.”

“He issued a large number of them, covering everything from financial regulation to climate change. Collectively, these orders, immigration aside, accounted for less than 1% of Trump’s coverage, and rarely did a news report track an executive order into the agencies to see how it was being handled.”

Only a few months ago, the unemployment rate stood at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent. According to White House reports from that timeframe, the economy had added 7 million jobs since the 2016 election.

Yet an MRC study of news coverage dating from September 24, 2019 through November 5, 2019, shows that- in spite of record highs in the stock market and a 50-year low in the unemployment rate- the President’s handling of the economy was given only 4 minutes and 6 seconds of airtime out of 645 minutes- less than 1% of Trump administration news.

During this same time period ABC, CBS and NBC newscast dedicated 398 minutes of coverage to the Ukraine scandal. A total of over 60% of ALL administration news coverage during this 6-week period was dedicated to the Ukraine story.

An extended analysis of news coverage through January 1, 2020, revealed that ABC, CBS and NBC generated a combined 849 minutes of evening news coverage about the subject.

The three networks even added a combined 120 hours and 20 minutes of live coverage outside of their regular news programming and dedicated this extra coverage to House Democrat’s impeachment activities.

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All elected officials must be held accountable for their actions, but data shows that news outlets are spending an excessive amount of coverage on certain topics, while ignoring and underreporting other important issues.

The media has failed to dedicate reasonable coverage to actual policies and their impact on the American people, instead choosing to focus an overwhelming amount of coverage on unproven allegations against Trump and negative stories about Trump’s character.

A study done by Pew Research on news coverage during the first 100-days of Trump’s administration, found that the five topics covered most by the news media were political skills, immigration, appointments and nominations, U.S.-Russia relations, and healthcare.

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Of that coverage: 94% of political skills coverage; 41% of immigration coverage; 92% appointments coverage; 98% U.S.-Russia relations and 52% of health care coverage; focused on the president’s leadership and character rather than his ideology and agenda.

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Besides this extreme narrowing of focus in the world of journalism, the media’s mishandling of the Trump presidency has also resulted in other problems of credibility.

The news media’s rush to judgement of President Trump has caused more than a few reporters to overlook accurate sourcing. Popular news stories regarding heavily covered topics have often mislead readers about the actions of President Trump and his administration.

Various news outlets and reporters have apologized and issued statements regarding their role in spreading misinformation about Trump and his administration. However, news outlets are rarely held accountable for inaccurate reporting and/or repeating inaccurate news.

The revisions, retractions and clarifications published long after the fact rarely get the same attention as the frenzy stirred by the initial post or news story.

In our next post, we will examine a few specific examples of topics news organizations and news/media personalities have inaccurately represented and mischaracterized: Russia; immigration; the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria; and Attorney General William Barr.

(Contributing writer, Allegra Nokaj.) (Contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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