President Donald Trump frequently complains about media coverage of his administration, and a study released Monday confirms his suspicion: Most of it has been negative.
The Pew Research Center, in a content analysis of the early days of the Trump presidency, found that 62 percent of the coverage was negative and only 5 percent was positive.
In contrast, President Barack Obama’s coverage in early 2009 was 42 percent positive and 20 percent negative, the study said.
Among recent presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had higher negative than positive coverage early in their administrations, but not nearly to Trump’s degree. Clinton had 28 percent negative coverage and 27 percent positive in 1993, while Bush had 28 percent negative and 22 percent positive in 2001.
Coverage of Trump was primarily focused on “character and leadership” versus policy, according to the Pew Center, a nonprofit based in Washington. The study also showed that only 2 percent of stories from outlets with a right-leaning audience refuted statements made by Trump or his administration, while 15 percent of stories carried by left-leaning outlets questioned the administration.
“It certainly shows that where people turn for news has implications for what they’re hearing about President Trump,” said Amy Mitchell, Pew’s director of journalism research.
The study looked at online general news sites with at least 20 million average unique monthly visitors, according to Pew, as well as the cable networks CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, and the evening news programs from the broadcast networks and PBS. Top talk radio shows and National Public Radio were also included.
The overall study was conducted from Jan. 21 to April 30 and examined 3,000 news stories across 24 media outlets. The portion of the study that measured how positively the media covered Trump was conducted over the first 60 days of the administration and compared a smaller sub-set of outlets to make sure it was comparable with the Clinton era.
CORRECTION (Oct. 2, 2017, 2:55 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misidentified the recent presidents with higher negative than positive coverage. In addition to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush also had higher negative coverage.