As we approach the one-hundred-day mark of the Trump presidency it seems wise to review the president’s relationship with the establishment media which has been, shall we say, somewhat troubled. If the first one hundred days are supposed to represent a honeymoon, one could safely argue the rapport between President Donald Trump and the establishment media not only skipped the honeymoon but headed straight for divorce court. For the most part, presidents are given some breathing room from the press during this time. In Trump’s case, the mainstream media have gone after him hammer and tong, and the adverse commentary, reporting, and coverage will likely continue unabated.
According to a new study by the Media Research Center (MRC), the big three broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC – provided the president with 89% hostile and negative coverage in his first eighty days. This is the worst amount of adverse coverage for any incoming president recorded in modern history.
MRC analysts did an exhaustive and thorough study of the Trump administration on the evening news coverage on broadcast networks from January 20 to April 9. During this time frame, the so-called big three published 869 stories, which included 737 full reports and 132 brief items. ABC, CBS, and NBC also offered 140 detailed reports on other topics that had somehow included the administration.
Five main topics represented 43% of the 1,900 minutes of total network coverage of the administration: temporary travel ban, Russia election investigation, efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), increased immigration enforcement and wiretap claims. These five topics accounted for 63% of the unfavorable coverage, and the television networks reported on each subject with a 90% negative slant.
For instance, the president’s initiative to renegotiate international trade deals received just ten minutes of coverage, while Russia garnered 222 minutes of evening news coverage.
Here are how researchers described their methodology:
Our measure of spin was designed to isolate the networks’ own slant, not the back-and-forth of partisan politics. Thus, our analysts ignored soundbites which merely showcased the traditional party line (Republicans supporting Trump, Democrats criticizing him), and instead tallied evaluative statements which imparted a clear positive or negative tone to the story, such as statements from experts presented as non-partisan, voters, or opinionated statements from the networks’ own reporters.
Thus far, the media bias against a Trump presidency has been blatant but compared to eight years ago– it is downright flagrant.
In former President Barack Obama’s first one hundred days, the media were comprised of jubilant and excited Bobby Soxers with a major crush on “the cool kid in class.” (Yes, that is an actual quote from ABC’s David Muir.)
Here is what MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said in 2009:
This guy’s done everything right. He’s raised his family right. He’s fought his way all the way to the top of the Harvard Law Review, in a blind test becomes head of the Review, the top editor there. Everything he’s done is clean as a whistle. He’s never not only broken any law, he’s never done anything wrong. He’s the perfect father, the perfect husband, the perfect American. And all they do is trash the guy.
Harry Smith of CBS called Obama’s inauguration in 2009 a “most sacred event.”
ABC’s Dr. Tim Johnson was “blown away” by the president in 2009:
I have to tell you, Charlie, I was blown away by President Obama’s grasp of the subject, how he connected the dots, how he answered the questions without any script.
NBC’s Dawna Friesen believed in 2009 that Britons were fascinated by the president and his wife:
From the moment the Obamas landed in Britain, hand in hand, many here were already star-struck.
Keith Miller of NBC echoed Friesen’s statement a day later:
What the Obamas bring to Buckingham Palace is a charisma not seen since the Kennedys, when the First Lady, Jacqueline, dazzled the royal court.
As the years progressed, Obama garnered even more glowing remarks and observations. Despite the Obama White House treating the press rather terribly – including ample evidence the administration spied on reporters – journalists still gushed. This was a trend that was even recently conceded by CNN anchor Jake Tapper in an interview with GQ:
President Obama did not like me, and I understand why. I was a pain in his ass and I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid, and, you know, a lot of other people did.
The Kool-Aid dispenser must be empty by now. No one seems to be offering Trump and friends a drink to quench his thirst. This isn’t necessarily surprising. Most polled American journalists identify themselves as liberals or Democrats. This type of pack journalism has taken more than a foothold in America today where news people openly admit they can and must and should report their opinions. At the Committee to Protect Journalism’s 2016 International Press Freedom Awards, the speaker was CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, who said the following:
I believe in being truthful, not neutral.
That just about says it all.
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