Study: Network Coverage of Trump Was 93 Percent Negative in Recent Months


In the 100 days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the impeachment investigation, a recent study found the top three evening newscasts have broadcast 93 percent negative coverage of President Donald Trump.

The recent analysis by the Media Research Center also found that ABC, CBS and NBC have pushed at least 124 hours of coverage of the House Democrat-led impeachment activities that began on Sept. 24.

The study counted 1,053 evaluative comments about Trump on the big three networks from Sept. 24 through Jan 1 and found that 93 percent of the coverage was negative.

This evaluation is comparable to past MRC research, which showed 89 percent negative coverage in Trump’s first 100 days in office.

The administration’s achievements, such as the killing of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and a strong economy, have also taken a back seat to impeachment coverage.

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According to the MRC’s analysis, only nine minutes of airtime was spent on discussing trade and the economy — six minutes were spent on trade talks with China and 66 seconds were spent on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement trade deal.

There was a combined total of 849 minutes of evening news impeachment coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC, accounting for 74.3 percent of all Trump coverage.

In comparison, after networks started covering former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation in May 2017, it took 226 days to generate the same amount of airtime.

In daytime broadcasts, the networks also aired live coverage of impeachment activities, even though the rest of America did not seem interested, according to another study by the MRC.

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In total, 124 hours and 20 minutes of daytime airtime were used covering the impeachment activities on ABC, CBS and NBC.

But on the fourth day of public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, only 11.4 million people tuned in.

According to numbers calculated by RealClearPolitics, the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment did not convince voters Trump needed to be removed from office.

On Nov. 12, the day before the public hearings began, 49 percent of people polled were in favor of impeaching and removing Trump and 46 percent were against.

But the day after the House voted to impeach him on Dec. 19, 48 percent opposed removing Trump from office and 47 percent were in favor.

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The coverage of the impeachment investigation also pushed the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to the side in the important weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses in February.

Former Vice President Joe Biden received 107 minutes of coverage, but 78 minutes were references to the impeachment investigations because of the controversy involving his son, Hunter. Only 29 minutes were dedicated to Biden’s presidential campaign.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg received 30 minutes of airtime after he entered the race in November.

Twenty-four minutes were dedicated to Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, but most of Sanders’ coverage was of his heart attack in October.

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg received almost eight minutes of airtime and Sen. Amy Klobuchar received just five minutes.

When the positive and negative statements on ABC, CBS and NBC of the top four presidential candidates were combined, Biden, Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg received 54 percent positive coverage.

According to the MRC, the study determined positive and negative news coverage by tallying “explicitly evaluative statements” of each person from reporters, anchors and non-partisan sources.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith