Media Coverage of Trump’s Presidency Has Been Historically Negative, Per Harvard Study

By A.J. Katz 

Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy published a study focusing on news coverage of Pres. Trump. Professors at the school analyzed coverage from the president’s first 100 days in office across 10 major TV and print outlets: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, the main news programs of CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC, and three European news outlets: the UK’s Financial Times and BBC, and Germany’s ARD.

The data for the study was provided to the Shorenstein Center by Tenor Media, a firm that specializes in collecting and coding news content.

Here’s a graphical look at the study:


Ninety-eight percent of Pres. Trump-related stories reported by Germany’s ARD have been negative. That’s the largest negative-to-positive ratio of the 10 outlets. Ninety-three percent of Trump-related stories reported by CNN and NBC News have been negative.

Every outlet has reported more negative than positive stories about the president. Only Fox News, which has been given the most access to the president, even came close to positivity. FNC has reported 52 percent negative stories and 48 percent positive stories

The study highlighted one exception: Trump got overwhelmingly positive coverage for launching a cruise missile attack on Syria.

Around 80 percent of all reports were positive about that.

The picture was very different for other recent administrations. The study found that President Obama’s first 100 days got a good write-up overall – with 59 percent of reports positive.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush got overall negative coverage, it found, but to a much lesser extent than Trump. Clinton’s first 100 days were 40 positive, while Bush’s was 43 percent.

tone of coverage

Additional findings from the study:

  • President Trump dominated media coverage in the outlets and programs analyzed, with Trump being the topic of 41 percent of all news stories—three times the amount of coverage received by previous presidents.
  • Republican voices accounted for 80 percent of what newsmakers said about the Trump presidency, compared to only 6 percent for Democrats and 3 percent for those involved in anti-Trump protests.
  • European reporters were more likely than American journalists to directly question Trump’s fitness for office.
  • Trump has received unsparing coverage for most weeks of his presidency, without a single major topic where Trump’s coverage, on balance, was more positive than negative, setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.