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Harvard study examines media coverage of Trump — and the results will blow you away

A new study by Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy examines the media's coverage of the Trump administration and finds the coverage has been overwhelmingly negative. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

It doesn’t take a team of experts at Harvard University to reveal what you already know: Most of the nation’s largest and most influential news outlets do not support President Donald Trump. But just how negative is the media coverage? That’s the question a new study by Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy attempts to answer, and the results are truly remarkable.

The study analyzed print news reports about Trump during his first 100 days in office appearing in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. It also examined the newscasts produced by CBS, CNN, Fox News, NBC, the Financial Times, BBC and Germany’s ARD.

According to Harvard professor Thomas Patterson, “Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days set a new standard for negativity. Of news reports with a clear tone, negative reports outpaced positive ones by 80 percent to 20 percent. Trump’s coverage was unsparing. In no week did the coverage drop below 70 percent negative and it reached 90 percent negative at its peak.”

By comparison, Bill Clinton’s news coverage during his first 100 days was 60 percent negative, George W. Bush’s was 57 percent negative and Obama’s coverage was nearly three times more positive than Trump. According to Patterson, 59 percent of Obama’s coverage was positive in his first 100 days, while only 20 percent of Trump’s coverage was positive.

Among the news outlets examined, not one provided more positive coverage than negative coverage. Unsurprisingly, Fox News was the closest; 52 percent of its coverage of Trump was negative, and 48 percent was positive, suggesting the network’s “fair and balanced” slogan may be more accurate than is often alleged.

Ninety percent or more of the coverage at CNN, NBC and CBS was determined to be negative. The coverage by the New York Times and Washington Post was 80 percent negative or higher. Even the Wall Street Journal, which is considered to lean conservative, was determined to provide coverage of Trump that was 70 percent negative.

One unexpected finding from the study is that BBC’s coverage was 74 percent negative, lower than many of the top American news outlets.

Patterson wrote in the study Trump’s “best” week came when he ordered a cruise-missile strike on a Syrian airbase in retaliation against that government’s use of nerve gas.

“The best period for Trump was week 12 of his presidency, when he ordered a cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase in retaliation for the Assad regime’s use of nerve gas on civilians. That week, his coverage divided 70 percent negative to 30 percent positive.”

The study’s introduction indicates, “The newspaper analysis covers all sections except sports, obituaries, and letters to the editor. Op-eds and editorials are included, but letters from the public are not. For television, the analysis covers the full daily content of each network’s major newscast. Network talk shows are not included.”

(H/T: Fox News Insider)

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