A single chart from a study at Harvard reveals the depth and degree of the media’s bias against Hillary Clinton and promotion of Donald Trump.
A study by Thomas E. Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, at Harvard University, showed that while Donald Trump received nearly universally positive coverage in the year leading up to the primaries, media coverage of Hillary Clinton was more negative than that of any other candidate.
Here is a chart that every mainstream journalist should answer for:
While Clinton was getting a mountain of negative coverage, here was Trump’s coverage:
Trump not only received the most coverage, but he also received the most positive coverage of any candidate.
As Patterson wrote, the research shows that Hillary Clinton was treated differently and more negatively than other candidates:
The Clinton campaign complained that journalists were holding her to a different standard than other candidates, alleging that they have a longstanding bias against her and her husband, the former president. That’s a complaint for journalists to answer, but her 2015 coverage did include more than a few anomalies. Journalists made more references to her past history than they did to those of other candidates and focused on the negative. Her successful acts as secretary of state were seldom mentioned, and her tenure in the Senate, a period where she earned praise from both sides of the aisle, was all but ignored. Clinton’s coverage during the invisible primary phase of the 2008 campaign also leaves open the question of whether journalists hold her to a different standard. According to a study by the Shorenstein Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism, Clinton’s coverage in the first months of 2007 was three-to-two negative over positive. In contrast, Obama’s coverage in the same period was three-to-one positive over negative. Stated differently, of reporting that was positive or negative in tone, Obama’s coverage was 75 percent positive while Clinton’s was 60 percent negative. Regina Lawrence and Melody Rose’s book-length study of Clinton’s 2008 campaign documented the same negative tendency in her media coverage.
There are two possible explanations for the bias against Hillary Clinton in the media. The first is that the media is punishing her for the scandals that occurred during her husband’s presidency, but the most likely explanations are related to gender bias. Individuals who hold executive positions in media companies are overwhelmingly white and male.
Clinton received less positive coverage than Barack Obama in 2008, and she was covered more negatively than Bernie Sanders and all of the male candidates on the Republican side in 2015.
Donald Trump spends every single day of his life whining about media fairness, but it is Hillary Clinton who is being treated unfairly by the media. A male presidential candidate would not be punished for his wife’s scandals the way that Hillary Clinton is being targeted by the media.
The media can pretend that they are fair, but the numbers don’t lie. Hillary Clinton is going to have to overcome both Donald Trump, and the inherent gender bias that appears to be present in the corporate-owned mainstream media to become America’s first woman president.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association