Trump and Spike Lee

Credit: Charles Sykes/Susan Walsh/Invision/AP

Credit: Charles Sykes/Susan Walsh/Invision/AP


We ran the numbers: There are 63 news articles covering this topic. 25% (16) are left leaning, 57% (36) center, 14% (9) right leaning, and 5% (2) articles were from sources not analyzed by Nobias.

In his Oscar acceptance speech last week, actor and director Spike Lee called for the audience to “mobilize” for the 2020 election. In a Twitter response, President Trump called the speech “a racist hit on your President.” Entertainment and political reporters alike were quick to pick up on the interchange.

Most publications independent of their source leaning (ie. median articles lean left, right, or center), reported on the literal quotations of Lee’s speech and Trump’s tweeted responses. That is a notable similarity in coverage.

The analysis that followed, however, was quite disparate. Articles identified by us as left-leaning included longer excerpts from Lee’s speech, to focus on the tone and accuracy of Trump’s response, and to analyze the story in the larger context of the Trump presidency. Several of these pieces mention and discuss the controversial 2017 Charlottesville rally, for example. Right-leaning articles were generally shorter and stuck to the specifics of the interchange, with limited political analysis.

Another noticeable difference in coverage lay in headlines. Several left-leaning articles featured editorialized titles like “Trump gives away the game by lashing out at filmmaker Spike Lee” (MSNBC) and “Trump calls Spike Lee ‘racist’ after acclaimed director's passionate Oscar speech” (Salon). Trump goes after Spike Lee after Oscars speech