Out on the campaign trail, Donald Trump has been listing off reasons why he is behind in the polls and might lose November's election, not the least of which is an alleged mainstream media bias against him. Does he have a point?
Most of the broadcast news coverage of the Trump campaign has been negative, according to a Media Research Center study released Tuesday. The study found that an overwhelming 91 percent of Trump coverage on broadcast evening news during the past 12 weeks has been "hostile" and backed up Trump's frequent accusations that the media is more focused on his personal scandals, particularly his treatment of women and allegations of sexual assault, than it is on Clinton's biggest question marks, namely her use of a private email server as secretary of state and revelations about her campaign in a series of leaked emails.
"Even when they were critical of Hillary Clinton — for concealing her pneumonia, for example, or mischaracterizing the FBI investigation of her e-mail server — network reporters always maintained a respectful tone in their coverage," read the study. "This was not the case with Trump, who was slammed as embodying 'the politics of fear,' or a 'dangerous' and 'vulgar' 'misogynistic bully' who had insulted vast swaths of the American electorate."
Media Research Center, a conservative-leaning group, analyzed all 588 evening news stories that either discussed or mentioned the presidential campaign on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from July 29 through October 20. They found that Trump received significantly more coverage than Clinton, in addition to his coverage skewing negative.
Though many pundits and analysts credit Trump's constant, if negative, media coverage with helping the businessman win the Republican nomination, Trump has continually criticized the media for being out to get him in the general election. He has often cited a Center for Public Integrity study released earlier this month that found that 96 percent of media professionals that donated to one of the major party presidential campaigns donated to Clinton. And the candidate and his campaign surrogates have lashed out at specific journalists after perceived unfair coverage. Most recently, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich accused Fox News' Megyn Kelly of being "obsessed with sex" Tuesday in response to questions about the mounting sexual assault allegations against Trump.
The Trump campaign has even launched a Facebook Live show, presented as a news show, that is meant to counteract the left-leaning bias of the mainstream media. The move follows rumors that Trump will found an alternative media network if he loses the election.
"The most powerful weapon deployed by the Clintons is the corporate media, the press," Trump said in Florida last week. "Let's be clear on one thing: The corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism. They are political special interest no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda — and the agenda is not for you, it's for themselves. Their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy."
Critics say that Trump has framed the media as a biased opponent as part of his political strategy and ongoing campaign narrative that he is an outsider trying to break up establishment politics. They argue that the negative coverage is the result of the fact that Trump is a singular candidate with a penchant for outlandish statements, racist and misogynist rhetoric and no-holds-barred insults.