News and Commentary

Study: The Most Common Adjectives News Reports Use To Describe Trump’s State Of Mind

A new study by the Media Research Center falls right in line with previous studies demonstrating an unprecedented degree of bias against President Trump in news coverage by the big networks. With multiple studies showing that about 90% of “spin” on ABC, NBC and CBS’s evening news coverage of Trump is hostile to him, MRC’s new study found that the subjective adjectives used to describe the president’s emotional state on those networks are likewise egregiously skewed in the negative direction.

“MRC analysts looked at every broadcast evening news story about the President from January 1 through September 10, and tallied the various words reporters have used this year to describe Trump’s state of mind, grouping them by category,” Newsbusters reports. The result: “TV news reporters have saturated the airwaves with subjective language about the President’s emotional state, most of it casting him as an out-of-control hothead.”

The most common subjective descriptions of Trump’s state of mind involve him being angry, including reporters describing him as “angry,” “furious,” “fuming,” “outraged,” “venting,” “infuriated,” “livid,” “enraged,” and “seething.” The subjective verb choices were also overtly skewed on the three networks’ evening news coverage:

When Trump communicated, he was said to be “lashing out” (53), on a “tirade” (8), “blasting” (5), or “erupting” (3). The President was also “on the warpath,” “volcanic,” “unglued,” “spoiling for a fight” and even “went ballistic,” according to reporters at various times this year.

The most likely to describe him in such a way was ABC’s “World News Tonight,” which did so 106 times from January 1 to September 10. NBC’s Nightly News came in second at 53, and CBS Evening News showed particular restraint with just 26 examples of subjectively describing Trump as angry. Newsbusters notes that Trump was described as “angry” in some form or fashion at an average of about 20 times a month.

MRC found that the second most likely description of Trump’s state of mind was “frustrated/aggravated/dismayed” (30 times), followed by “afraid/worried/anxious” (14).

Trump was described by the three networks as “happy” only 23 times over that period, and “confident” and “calm” just 6 times and once, respectively.

An MRC study published in March detailed the ten to one negative to positive “spin” coverage of Trump on the same networks during the first two months of 2018, findings which aligned with their previous study:

Our analysts also measured the spin of coverage by tallying all evaluative statements about the President and his top officials uttered by anchor, reporters or non-partisan news sources such as experts or voters. Out of a total of 712 such evaluative comments, only 65 were positive (9%) vs. 647 which were negative, or 91 percent. (Neutral statements, as well as the comments of partisans, were excluded from this measure).

This is essentially unchanged from the 90 percent negative coverage we documented for all of 2017, and matches the 91 percent negative coverage we tallied during the 2016 general election campaign. Without question, no President has ever been on the receiving end of such hostile coverage, for such a sustained period of time, as has Trump — and the midterm elections are still eight months away.