Measuring the Media’s Obsession With Trump


Since he rode down the Trump Tower escalator in June 2015, Donald Trump has loomed giant over the media panorama. From the mail bomber to the Khashoggi slaying to Bush 41’s dying, information retailers have organized their tales to emphasise Trump, whereas typically undermining his legitimacy. In doing so, the press has devoted a lot consideration to him that he has in some methods helped revive American journalism. It seems that the media’s obsession with the president is larger than one may think.

The timeline under exhibits the whole share of airtime (as measured in 15-second intervals) of the mixed CNN, MSNBC and Fox Information every day protection from June 2009 (the place to begin of the info) to current that talked about “Trump” or “Obama” (utilizing information from the GDELT Challenge’s processing of the Web Archive’s Tv Information Archive). 

Trump’s first main bump got here in spring 2011 when he publicly toyed with the thought of operating for president. The mere thought of Donald Trump within the Oval Workplace was sufficient to propel information curiosity in him to ranges equal to these of then-President Obama. Bumps in December 2011 and Could 2012 equally mirrored a media obsessive about Trump’s rising political clout. 

But, his meteoric rise to the stratosphere happened virtually in a single day, when he introduced his candidacy for president on June 16, 2015. Within the weeks after his announcement, the three tv channels paid extra consideration to him than they did Obama’s re-election race in all of 2012.

Within the three years since, protection of Trump fell substantively solely as soon as, in November 2015, earlier than Trump reignited curiosity along with his controversial “Muslim ban.” Inside days he was a media sensation once more.

Within the lead-up to the November 2016 election, Trump’s media protection was greater than double that of Obama’s re-election marketing campaign protection. After his election, protection dropped to almost half its peak ranges. This mirrors the drop Obama skilled after his re-election, because the press returned from its marketing campaign footing.

Whereas Obama usually hovered round Three % to five % airtime over most of his presidency, Trump’s regular state seems to be round 13 percent-17 %. In complete from June 2009 to January 20, 2017, Obama averaged round 4.9 % of the mixed every day airtime of CNN, MSNBC and Fox Information. From June 16, 2015 to current, Trump has averaged 15 %, 3 times as a lot.

Trying by station, CNN spent 4.Three instances extra airtime on Trump than Obama, MSNBC 2.Four instances and Fox Information 3.1 instances.

The larger query is whether or not all of this media consideration mirrors public curiosity. The timeline under exhibits the relative quantity of U.S.-based Google searches for Trump (pink) and Obama (blue). Google doesn’t report the precise variety of searches, as a substitute treating the month with the very best variety of searches as 100 % and reporting the opposite months as percentages of that peak.

When it comes to U.S.-based Google searches, Trump’s November 2016 peak was 3 times that of Obama’s November 2012 re-election and twice that of Obama’s first election.

Each presidents skilled substantial declines in search curiosity over their first 12 months, with Obama dropping 77 % and Trump 69 %. As a share lower, Trump has not held the general public curiosity any higher than Obama, however because of total higher curiosity in his presidency, he nonetheless maintains a substantial lead in complete search quantity.

Placing this all collectively, the graphs above make the media’s obsession with Trump starkly clear, but additionally they present that each one of this consideration mirrors (or drives) precise curiosity from the general public. Ultimately, for media retailers that spend a lot of their time attacking Trump, it’s clear that they merely can’t stay with out him.

RealClear Media Fellow Kalev Leetaru is a senior fellow on the George Washington College Heart for Cyber & Homeland Safety. His previous roles embody fellow in residence at Georgetown College’s Edmund A. Walsh Faculty of International Service and member of the World Financial Discussion board’s International Agenda Council on the Way forward for Authorities.