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Mainstream Media’s Coverage of Trump Was 90 Percent Negative in 2018

Analysts found the news reporting to be 'incessantly hostile'

Three key mainstream media outlets offered 90 percent negative coverage of President Donald Trump and his administration during their evening newscasts in 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by the Media Research Center (MRC).

It’s no secret that mainstream media reporters and pundits haven’t been thrilled with the Trump administration — and the president often rails against the “fake news media” and their biased coverage.

But MRC listened to and analyzed evening newscasts from purportedly unbiased networks — ABC News, CBS News and NBC News — and found the coverage to be “incessantly hostile” midway through Trump’s first term in office.

“At the midpoint of Donald Trump’s first term, the establishment media’s obvious hostility shows no signs of relenting, but polls show this negative coverage has had no discernible impact on the public’s attitudes toward the president,” Rich Noyes, MRC research director, wrote in his report.

Noyes noted that roughly 23 million people watched these newscasts each evening.

Approximately 28 percent of all airtime was devoted to covering the Trump administration in 2018, for a total of 87 hours — down from 99 hours in 2017.

“The tone of coverage remains incessantly hostile: 90 percent negative, vs. just 10 percent positive (excluding neutral statements), matching the historically bad press we documented in 2017,” Noyes wrote.

The evening newscasts’ negative coverage over the last two years ranged from 82 percent negative in April 2017 to 96 percent negative in February 2018.

Although the networks offered unrelentingly negative Trump coverage last year, the president’s approval rating rose slightly, from 40 percent to 42.7 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

MRC determines the media’s negative spin by analyzing evaluative statements made solely by purportedly non-partisan reporters, anchors or experts.

The evening newscasts’ negative coverage over the last two years ranged from 82 percent negative in April 2017 to 96 percent negative in February 2018.

The networks zeroed in on five key topics for half of their Trump coverage: special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe into allegations of Russian collusion; the president’s immigration enforcement policies; Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation process; the North Korean nuclear crisis; and the controversies surrounding former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the hush money payments.

Related: Trump Faced 92 Percent Negative Media Coverage, MRC Study Shows

Ninety-eight percent of the Russia probe coverage was negative, 94 percent of the immigration policy segments were negative, 84 percent of the Kavanaugh confirmation coverage was negative, 80 percent of the North Korea showdown coverage was negative, and 99 percent of the Cohen drama coverage was negative.

The three networks in total, in December, spent 67 minutes of evening coverage on the partial government shutdown that began late that month.

And it’s no surprise that 97 percent of that coverage negatively portrayed Trump’s handling of the shutdown and his demand for $5 billion in border wall funding.

“The media elite have clearly waded into the political fray to wage war against this president. But have they accomplished anything beyond cementing their reputation as political partisans, not objective journalists?” Noyes wrote.

Trump himself took to Twitter on Monday to bash the “fake news” media, writing, “The Fake News gets crazier and more dishonest every single day. Amazing to watch as certain people covering me, and the tremendous success of this administration, have truly gone MAD! Their Fake reporting creates anger and disunity. Take two weeks off and come back rested. Chill!”

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