An analysis of more than 3,000 stories during the first 100 days of his presidency across 24 different media organizations found that reporting on Trump has been the most negative compared to other presidents over the past 25 years.
The research shows that only 5 percent of media reporting during the period was positive. Sixty-two percent of stories were negative, and 33 percent were neither positive nor negative.
By comparison, coverage of President Barack Obama during the same time period was 42 percent positive and 20 percent negative. For President George W. Bush, the number was 22 percent positive and 28 percent negative. And for President Bill Clinton, it was 27 percent positive and 28 percent negative.
The study also revealed that most media coverage of Trump focused on his character traits rather than policy.
Only 31 percent of all stories published on Trump focused on policy issues, compared to 50 percent for Obama, 65 percent for Bush, and 58 percent for Clinton.
“The evaluations of President Trump were far more negative and less positive than those of his predecessors,” wrote the Pew Research Center.
Five topics dominated the news coverage, making up two-thirds, during the time period evaluated by the Pew Research Center, from Jan. 21 to April 30.
The main topic covered was Trump’s political skills (17 percent), followed by immigration, one of Trump’s key policy issues (14 percent); presidential appointments and nominations (13 percent); U.S.–Russia relations (13 percent); and health care (9 percent).
Since Trump won the presidency in November, much of the media coverage has sought to question the legitimacy of his presidency, creating divisions in society. Most media organizations reported extensively on the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
However, many of the stories relied heavily on anonymous sources from within the intelligence community, resulting in frequent erroneous reporting.
Speaking under oath before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 8, former FBI Director James Comey discredited a Feb. 15 front page story in The New York Times, which claimed that members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.”
At the time, The Epoch Times noted many flaws in the report, which The New York Times used to push a narrative of collusion.
At the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) pressed Comey further on the piece from The New York Times, asking, “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?”, to which Comey replied, “Yes.”
Comey went on to discredit other media reports, which have frequently cited unnamed intelligence and government sources to push their narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election.
“All of you know this. Maybe the American people don’t,” Comey said, addressing the Senate committee. He said when it comes to reporters writing stories about classified information, “people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on.”
He said there have been many stories about the Russia investigations “that are just dead wrong.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson responded to a story published by NBC News on Oct. 4 that claimed Tillerson had considered resigning.
Tillerson told reporters at an unscheduled press briefing that the story was false and that he had never considered resigning. He also accused media organizations of trying to divide people.
“This is what I don’t understand about Washington. I’m not from this place. But the places I come from, we don’t deal with that kind of petty nonsense. It is intended to do nothing but to divide people. I’m just not going to be part of this effort to divide this administration,” Tillerson said.
Trump also called out NBC News for the article, writing on Twitter that “Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by @NBCNews.”
Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by @NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2017
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Oct. 5 that with the freedoms of the First Amendment also come responsibilities.
“You have a responsibility to tell the truth, to be accurate,” Sanders told reporters in response to a question about the issue.
“We’ve seen recent information that says that only 5 percent of media coverage has been positive about this president and this administration, while at the same time you have the stock market and economic confidence at an all-time high,” she said.
“Frankly, those are the issues most Americans care about—not a lot of the things that you cover, not a lot of the petty palace intrigue that you spend your time on. I think that we need to move towards a certainly more fair, more accurate, and, frankly, a more responsible news media for the American people.”