CJR Study: Media Talks About Trump Even When It’s Not Talking About Trump


Donald Trump as media focal point has long been a sad given, but he also appears frequently in headlines about other candidates, a CJR analysis by Devansh Mehta finds.

Mehta looked at the headlines from 6,000 articles that comprised the work of 10 publications from the period between Aug. 18, 2015 and Feb. 28 of this year to get a sense of where elections-related coverage has been focused.

And while the grossly disproportional media focus on Trump has been an ongoing source of criticism throughout the cycle, Mehta’s findings add a new layer of frustration: in headlines about Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, Trump popped up in 76 percent, 89 percent and 85 percent of those headlines, respectively. How many times did those candidates appear in headlines about Trump? Collectively, in just 15 percent of those headlines.

There are other interesting findings in the analysis, including that fact that, while explicit coverage of the horse race (as evinced by the use of the word “poll”) comprised just 5.4 percent of all headlines, it appeared more than double the times immigration or inequality did. You can see them all here, and can check out the raw data here.