President Donald Trump’s early days in office were subjected to almost universally negative news coverage, a Harvard study has found.
The Trump presidency is “setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president,” according to the report from Thomas E. Patterson, professor of government and the press at the Harvard Kennedy School and Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
The study looked at Trump’s first 100 days and examined coverage in the print editions of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, as well as broadcast outlets CNN, CBS, Fox News and CNBC parent NBC, and European news outlets the Financial Times, BBC and ARD in Germany.
Of the total news stories examined, 41 percent focused on Trump, which was triple the coverage for previous presidents for the same period
And of that group, the tone was resoundingly negative — 80 percent of all stories, to be exact. That would be just shy of double the first 100 days of Barack Obama and significantly more than George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Trump frequently has criticized his coverage, stating this week that “no politician in history” has been treated worse.
Sources: Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, The Mediated President (2006), p. 37 for Clinton and Bush; Center for Media & Public Affairs for Obama; Media Tenor for Trump.
“Trump’s coverage during his first 100 days set a new standard for negativity,” Patterson wrote. “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.”
The “high” point for Trump came after he ordered retaliatory missile attacks against Syria when the Assad regime reportedly gassed its own citizens. The low points were when a court struck down an executive order restricting immigration from several predominately Muslim countries, and when a Republican effort to overturn Obamacare failed.