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Media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Media coverage of the 2016 presidential election was a source of controversy during and after the 2016 election, with various candidates, campaigns and supporters alleging bias against candidates and causes.

Studies have shown that all 2016 candidates received vastly less media coverage than Donald Trump.[1][2] Trump received more extensive media coverage than Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders combined during a time when those were the only primary candidates left in the race.[3] The Democratic primary received substantially less coverage than the Republican primary.[1][4] Sanders received the most positive coverage of any candidate overall, whereas his opponent in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton, received the most negative coverage.[1][2][5] Among the general election candidates, Trump received inordinate amounts of coverage on his policies and issues, as well as on his personal character and life, whereas Hillary Clinton's emails controversy was a dominant feature of her coverage, earning more media coverage than all of her policy positions combined.[6][7][8][9]

Donald Trump

Trump benefited from free media more than any other candidate, and the coverage was according to a study reviewing three sources of data, "not particularly negative, either overall or relative to other candidates."[1] From the beginning of his campaign through February 2016, Trump received almost $2 billion in free media attention, twice the amount that Clinton received.[10] According to data from the Tyndall Report, which tracks nightly news content, through February 2016, Trump alone accounted for more than a quarter of all 2016 election coverage on the evening newscasts of NBC, CBS and ABC, more than all the Democratic campaigns combined.[11][12][13] Observers noted Trump's ability to garner constant mainstream media coverage "almost at will".[14] However, Trump frequently criticized the media for writing what he alleged to be false stories about him[15] and he has called upon his supporters to be "the silent majority".[16] Trump also said the media "put false meaning into the words I say", and says he does not mind being criticized by the media as long as they are honest about it.[17][18] During and after his presidential campaign and election, Donald Trump popularized the term "fake news", which he frequently accused mainstream media outlets of.[19][20]

A 2018 study found that media coverage of Trump led to increased public support for him during the primaries. The study showed that Trump received nearly $2 billion in free media, more than double any other candidate. Political scientist John Sides argued that Trump's polling surge was "almost certainly" due to frequent media coverage of his campaign. Sides concluded "Trump is surging in the polls because the news media has consistently focused on him since he announced his candidacy on June 16".[21] Prior to clinching the Republican nomination, Trump received little support from establishment Republicans.[22]

Hillary Clinton

In her 2017 memoir What Happened, Clinton argued that the media was one of several contributing factors to her loss.[23][24]

Analyses by Columbia Journalism Review, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School show that the Clinton email controversy received more coverage in mainstream media outlets than any other topic during the 2016 presidential election.[25][26][27] The New York Times coverage of the email controversy was notoriously extensive; according to a Columbia Journalism Review analysis, "in just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton's emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election (and that does not include the three additional articles on October 18, and November 6 and 7, or the two articles on the emails taken from John Podesta)."[25] In attempting to explain the lopsided coverage, the Columbia Journalism Review speculates, "In retrospect, it seems clear that the press in general made the mistake of assuming a Clinton victory was inevitable, and were setting themselves as credible critics of the next administration."[25]

Media commentators drew comparisons of Clinton's email usage to past political controversies. Pacific Standard magazine published an article in May 2015, comparing email controversy and her response to it with the Whitewater investigation 20 years earlier.[28]

Marco Rubio

During the Republican primary, Marco Rubio criticized the media for giving his Republican primary opponent, Donald Trump, disproportionate coverage.[29][30] He criticized the media's tendency for horserace coverage, rather than focusing on substance.[30] He also blamed the media for negative coverage of his campaign.[31][32] He said there was "kind of a weird bias here in the media rooting for Donald Trump because they know he’s the easiest Republican to beat."[33]

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz criticized the disproportionate coverage of Trump during the Republican primary. Cruz suggested that the media was deliberately boosting Trump's candidacy, and that they were holding back damaging stories about him until he won the nomination.[34][35] After the conspiracy tabloid the National Enquirer ran a story alleging without evidence that Cruz might be having extramarital affairs, he said that Trump and his "henchmen" had planted the story.[36][37]

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the Sanders campaign, supporters and alternative media sources have argued that the media was biased against Bernie Sanders, saying he did not receive adequate media coverage, that mainstream media outlets covered him in a negative light, and that there was insufficient focus on policy in media coverage.[38][39][4] Data shows that Sanders got two-thirds of Clinton's media coverage during the Democratic primary as a whole, and that he received the most positive coverage of any candidate.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e John Sides; Michael Tesler; Lynn Vavreck (2018). Identity Crisis. Princeton University Press. pp. 8, 62, 99, 104–107. ISBN 978-0-691-17419-8. Archived from the original on November 14, 2019. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Thomas E. Patterson, Pre-Primary News Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Race: Trump's Rise, Sanders' Emergence, Clinton's Struggle, archived from the original on November 27, 2019, retrieved December 1, 2019
  3. ^ Bitecofer, Rachel (2018). The Unprecedented 2016 Presidential Election. Palgrave. pp. 36–38, 48. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-61976-7. ISBN 978-3-319-61975-0.
  4. ^ a b c Thomas E. Patterson (July 11, 2016), News Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Primaries: Horse Race Reporting Has Consequences, retrieved January 3, 2020, Over the course of the primary season, Sanders received only two-thirds of the coverage afforded Clinton. Sanders’ coverage trailed Clinton’s in every week of the primary season.
  5. ^ Colleen Elizabeth Kelly (February 19, 2018), A Rhetoric of Divisive Partisanship: The 2016 American Presidential Campaign Discourse of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, pp. 6–7, ISBN 978-1-4985-6458-8
  6. ^ "Don't blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  7. ^ "News Coverage of the 2016 National Conventions: Negative News, Lacking Context". Shorenstein Center. September 21, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  8. ^ "Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election | Berkman Klein Center". Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  9. ^ Bode, Leticia (2020). Words that matter : how the news and social media shaped the 2016 presidential campaign. Brookings Institution Press. ISBN 978-0-8157-3192-4. OCLC 1151408105.
  10. ^ Nicholas Confessore & Karen Yourish, Measuring Donald Trump's Mammoth Advantage in Free Media, The New York Times (March 16, 2016).
  11. ^ "How much does Donald Trump dominate TV news coverage? This much". CNN. Retrieved February 17, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Tyndall, Andrew. "COMMENTS: Campaign 2016 Coverage: Annual Totals for 2015". Retrieved February 17, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Byers, Dylan. "Donald Trump: Media King, 2015". CNN. Retrieved February 17, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Walsh, Kenneth. "How Donald Trump's Media Dominance Is Changing the 2016 Campaign". US News & World Report. Archived from the original on February 25, 2016. Retrieved February 17, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "43 Times Donald Trump Has Attacked The Media As A Presidential Candidate". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 17, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ Fandos, Nicholas (July 11, 2015). "Donald Trump Defiantly Rallies a New 'Silent Majority' in a Visit to Arizona". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ Walsh, Kenneth. "Trump: Media Is 'Dishonest and Corrupt'" Archived September 16, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, U.S. News and World Report (August 15, 2016).
  18. ^ Koppel, Ted. "Trump: 'I feel I'm an honest person'", CBS News (July 24, 2016).
  19. ^ Lind, Dara (May 9, 2018). "Trump finally admits that "fake news" just means news he doesn't like". Vox. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
  20. ^ Murphy, Jennifer. "Library Guides: Evaluating Information: Fake news in the 2016 US Elections". Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  21. ^ Reuning, Kevin; Dietrich, Nick (2018). "Media Coverage, Public Interest, and Support in the 2016 Republican Invisible Primary". Perspectives on Politics. 17 (2): 326–339. doi:10.1017/S1537592718003274. ISSN 1537-5927.
  22. ^ Albert, Zachary; Barney, David J. (November 4, 2018). "The Party Reacts: The Strategic Nature of Endorsements of Donald Trump". American Politics Research. 47 (6): 1239–1258. doi:10.1177/1532673x18808022. ISSN 1532-673X.
  23. ^ What Happened, p. 222-23
  24. ^ Zurcher, Anthony (2017-09-13). "The long list of who Hillary Clinton blames". Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  25. ^ a b c "Don't blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  26. ^ "News Coverage of the 2016 National Conventions: Negative News, Lacking Context". Shorenstein Center. September 21, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  27. ^ "Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election | Berkman Klein Center". Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  28. ^ Gerth, Jeff (March 16, 2015). "Hillary Clinton's Email Scandal Looks a Lot Like the Whitewater Investigation of 20 Years Ago". Pacific Standard. Retrieved October 13, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  29. ^ Stokols, Eli; Goldmacher, Shane. "Inside Marco's Hollow Campaign". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  30. ^ a b Siddiqui, Sabrina (2016-03-16). "Rubio was the Republicans' savior – but then Trump came along". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  31. ^ "Marco Rubio Blames Failed Campaign on Unfair Media Coverage". Intelligencer. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  32. ^ Mccaskill, Nolan D. "Rubio blames the media". POLITICO. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  33. ^ Stein, Sam (2016-02-28). "Marco Rubio Blames The Media For The Rise Of Trump". HuffPost. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  34. ^ WALKER, JESSE. "Paranoia runs deep in America". Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  35. ^ Milbank, Dana (2016). "Republicans should blame themselves — not the media — for Trump". Washington Post.
  36. ^ Diamond, Jeremy Diamond. "Cruz blames Trump and his 'henchmen' for tabloid story". CNN. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  37. ^ Gaudiano, Nicole. "Ted Cruz blames Donald Trump for 'Enquirer' affairs story". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  38. ^ Horowitz, Jason (2016-02-23). "As News Media Changes, Bernie Sanders's Critique Remains Constant". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  39. ^ "This Harvard study both confirms and refutes Bernie Sanders's complaints about the media |". Retrieved 2020-01-17.
This page was last edited on 3 April 2021, at 12:50
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