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When Donald Trump isn’t talking to the media, he loves to complain about the media. So, he may very well love this media story about the media: A new study finds that news stories about the Trump administration have been much more negative than earlier presidents.
Pew Research Center studied the first 60 days of Trump’s presidency and found that 62 percent of mainstream (more than that later) coverage of the administration reached “negative assessments”.
That compares to 20 percent negative coverage during Barack Obama’s first two months, and 28 percent during Bill Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s first two months.
Here’s a handy chart, easily turned into an angry tweet:
And here’s the exact same data in a bar graph, for people who don’t like pie graphs that much. Like Recode editor in chief Dan Frommer:
Things to think about:
- Pew isn’t surveying all media here — they’re surveying some media that existed at the beginning of the Clinton administration and that are still around today. Their pool includes the New York Times, the Washington Post, Newsweek, as well as the broadcast TV networks’ nightly newscasts.
- Pew says the news outlets it sampled for this comparison are more negative than the broader sample it used for other studies it conducted about Trump and the news media in 2017. That larger group reflects the way media has changed since 1992 (!), and includes cable news outlets, radio broadcasts and big online publications; that also means it includes more ideological outlets, like HuffPost, Breitbart, MSNBC and the Independent Review Journal.
- Worth repeating: Note that Trump’s numbers are much more negative than his two Democratic predecessors and the last Republican president.
If you are Trump, or one of the people Trump retweets, you are still likely to look at this chart as proof that the odds are stacked against you. This is why you need Twitter! (And Fox News! And Breitbart! And the IJR! And Drudge!)
On the other hand, it is very reasonable to argue that the reason coverage of Trump has been negative is that Trump’s behavior has been negative. I’m not going to spend time making that argument here, but it’s the argument I believe.
Here’s one version of that argument, delivered by CNN this summer:
And here’s another, shorter version of that argument, once again in handy chart form, once again from Pew: A comparison of the way Americans viewed new presidents in their early days in office. Again, note that Trump fares much worse than all presidents, Democrat and Republican, going back to 1981: