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Covering President Trump in a Polarized Media Environment

Pew – “In an era when Americans’ choices about whom to turn to and trust for news are often divided along political lines, a new Pew Research Center study of media coverage of the early days of the Trump administration finds those preferences can be significant. News outlets whose audience leans to the left politically, those whose audience leans to the right and those appealing to a more mixed audience covered a similar news agenda and mostly framed their coverage around character and leadership rather than policy. But the types of sources included in the stories and the assessments of the administration’s words and actions often differed, according to this study of more than 3,000 news stories during the first 100 days of the Trump presidency across 24 media outlets with content from television, radio and the web. Specifically, outlets with a right-leaning audience cited fewer types of sources in their reporting, offered more positive and fewer negative evaluations of President Donald Trump and his administration, and had reporters who were less likely to challenge something the president said than outlets whose audience leans to the left or those with a more evenly distributed audience. Seven-in-ten stories from outlets with a left-leaning audience and 62% from those with a more mixed audience included at least two of nine types of sources evaluated, such as a member of the administration, a member of Congress, or an outside expert. That was true, however, of less than half the stories (44%) from outlets with a right-leaning audience. In particular, outlets whose audience leans right of center were less likely to include Trump and his administration, outside experts or interest groups as sources. They were also about half as likely to include voices from both Democratic and Republican members of Congress (7% of stories vs. 14% for outlets with a left-leaning audience and 15% for outlets with a more mixed audience)…”

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