Donald Trump may spend an inordinate amount of time attacking his “enemies” in the mainstream media, but according to a Harvard study released Tuesday, he’s received the friendliest media coverage of the remaining presidential candidates.
In fact, he has gotten so much positive media coverage since the beginning of his campaign that Harvard is willing to claim that it was largely responsible for boosting his upstart campaign.
The report, which analyzed coverage from eight of the top major media outlets in both broadcast and print, found that journalists covered Trump’s fledgling campaign at a higher volume than any other, and with a generally “more positive tone” than other campaigns. Trump, according to Harvard’s researchers, received more “good press” than “bad press,” and his campaign’s popularity increased accordingly.
Republicans overall received more attention than Democrats, with Bernie Sanders fared better than Hillary Clinton. The study found that most mainstream news outlets reporting on Clinton centered around her “bad news,” and that of all the 2016 candidates, she received the most critical coverage: 84% of issue-related Clinton stories were “negative in tone.”
It also turns out that when Trump says he received “millions” in free advertising, he’s not wrong. Harvard estimates that the positive media coverage Trump earned is the equivalent of $55 million in television advertising, miles ahead of Jeb Bush, the second largest beneficiary.
That also, of course, means that Bush wasted $36 million in free advertising along with the hundreds of millions he spent on his campaign. Unfortunately, it also meant that, as Harvard found, most of Bush’s later stories involved his candidacy’s swift and brutal demise.
The study also explains why outlets like CNN were often caught showing an unmanned podium at a Trump event, even as Clinton was speaking elsewhere: more than 30% of Trump coverage was of his events. Only 6% of Trump coverage dealt with his personality. Only 12% with Trump’s actual issues and policies.
Of course, media coverage may shift as the race narrows down to two competitors. Trump may not be able to count on friendly media looking to cover his rallies for ratings, and with Sanders out of the race, the press will have to focus more on Clinton.
Still, he should probably be issuing thank-you notes instead of those pink slips.