Study: 90% of Network Coverage of President Trump Negative in 2017

By Craig Bannister | January 16, 2018 | 10:51am EST
Pres. Trump's network news coverage overwhelmingly bad. (Screenshot)

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 - about 34 percent of all evening news.

Thus, one out of every three minutes of broadcast evening news coverage was devoted to the Trump story last year, a new Media Research Center (MRC) study shows.

Investigation into alleged Russia “collusion” was the top item covered (1,234 minutes) – getting more than ten times the attention of the second-most covered topic: response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia (104 minutes).

As a proxy for the larger establishment media, the MRC 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: 90% negative, vs. just 10% positive (These percentages do not include neutral statements).
  • There were only three months in 2017 when Trump’s level of good press rose above 10 percent on the evening news  
    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.

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.

See additional details on MRC's website.

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