The first three months of President Joe Biden’s administration have been covered much differently than the way the first three months of President Donald Trump’s administration were covered.
The Media Research Center (MRC) reviewed broadcast network — ABC, CBS, and NBC — coverage of the two presidencies from inauguration day to April 9.
“During his first three months in office, the broadcast evening newscasts have showered Biden with 59% positive press. Four years ago, those same programs were hammering Trump with 89% negative press — a stunning contrast,” the MRC found.
The MRC study included watching 726 minutes of total coverage, “18 percent of all evening news airtime,” and a “small fraction of the 1,900 minutes those broadcasts spent deploring Trump and his team when we studied the same newscasts during the same time period in 2017.”
More from the MRC:
The shift in tone is even more dramatic. Four years ago, Trump faced hellishly negative coverage right from the beginning. Our study at the time showed 89% negative coverage of the new President on the three evening newscasts, an unprecedented hostility that would characterize the media’s approach for the next four years.
Today, President Biden faces a far friendlier media landscape. Overall, we found 59% positive coverage of his administration during those first weeks, a continuation of the positive coverage that the networks treated him to during last year’s presidential campaign.
The MRC in 2017 tallied the number of “evaluative comments” news outlets made regarding Trump and found that 89% of the 1,687 comments were negative, while just 11% were positive. Conversely, these same outlets have made just 264 evaluative comments about the Biden administration, and 59% (156) of those were positive.
The positivity of coverage depended on the topic, however, the MRC study found. Media outlets provided vastly positive coverage of the Biden administration when it came to its COVID-19 response, the massive $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, and Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill. Other topics, such as the Biden administration’s handling of the Southern border crisis and gun control, received mostly negative coverage from the press.
“The administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was by far the most-covered topic, with 242 minutes of total airtime, or one-third of all Biden news during these weeks. Viewers hoping for the networks to take an even-slightly adversarial tone with the new administration would have been disappointed: out of 39 evaluative statements on this topic, more than three-fourths (31, or 79%) praised Biden and/or his team,” the MRC found. “The networks were even more enthused by the President’s partisan $1.9 trillion so-called COVID relief bill, which drew 120 minutes of additional coverage. Out of 67 evaluative comments we tallied, 59 of them (86%) were positive. Instead of pushing back on the White House message of the day, evening news coverage consisted of a parade of citizens happy to be receiving $1,400 checks and other benefits; we found only 29 seconds of airtime bothered to mention the exploding federal deficit or national debt, now in excess of $28 trillion.”
The MRC noted that even when media outlets said negative things about the Biden administration, it was often from the position that he wasn’t being liberal enough, hitting him from the far-left.
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