New Study Finds Media Coverage of Hillary Clinton Disproportionately Negative

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Hillary Clinton
Hillary ClintonPhoto: JONATHAN ALCORN

Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy released a new report on Monday that analyzed how 2016 presidential candidates were covered by several news sources — CBS, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post — in the year before the presidential primary. Spoiler: According to the report, “Hillary Clinton had by far the most negative coverage of any candidate.”


The coverage on Clinton’s issue positions from January 1 through December 31, 2015 was particularly bad compared to other candidates: 28 percent of overall coverage on her revolved around her stance on key issues, and 84 percent of it was negative. Compare that to 12 percent issue coverage for Trump, with 43 percent of it negative; 9 percent issue coverage for Cruz with 32 percent of it negative; and 7 percent issue coverage for Sanders with 17 percent of it negative. (The study found that Sanders was covered the most positively of any of the leading candidates.)

Trump, meanwhile, received much more news coverage overall than the other Republican frontrunners — 34 percent compared to percentages in the teens for his competitors (and 7 percent for Kasich). So the media obsession with his candidacy may very well have been what catapulted him straight to the front of the primary race.

“Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor,” the report indicated. “Whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end.”