Beto O’Rourke enters 2020 race
Photo by  Eric Gay/AP

Photo by Eric Gay/AP


We ran the numbers: There are 85 news articles covering this topic. 59% (50) are left leaning, 14% (12) center, 13% (11) right leaning, and 14% (12) articles were from sources not analyzed by Nobias.

Earlier today, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke announced his 2020 presidential campaign. There has been a high amount of coverage surrounding O’Rourke, during and following his close 2018 senate race against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz—a race he lost by less than 2 percent of the vote. Following the release of O’Rourke’s announcement video, President Trump spoke on the record about his candidacy, focusing on O’Rourke’s hand movements and asking “Is he crazy?”

While coverage of O’Rourke’s political career has historically been high, today’s coverage of the announcement was noticeably inconsistent. Some outlets, like POLITICO and U.S. News and World Report, ran the news story early in the morning. But the announcement was featured on neither the New York Times nor the Fox News homepages (though conservative pundit Greg Gutfeld’s response was posted on Fox News).

Two factors that may affect the level of coverage of Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy: (1) the early timing of the announcement, with the first Democratic primaries still 11 months away; and (2) the number of Democrats who have already announced their candidacies, which numbers over 13.

Conservative outlets, generally, were less likely to report on the story. Of the articles that did cover O’Rourke’s announcement, headlines from almost all outlets stayed close to the news peg. Many of these articles included a brief analysis (1-3 sentences) of the 2018 senate race, and embedded O’Rourke’s announcement video.


Hunter Ford
DNC Fox Debate Decision
Photo by  Charles Dharapak/AP

Photo by Charles Dharapak/AP


We ran the numbers: There are 86 news articles covering this topic. 48% (41) are left leaning, 21% (18) center, 14% (12) right leaning, and 17% (15) articles were from sources not analyzed by Nobias.

On Wednesday, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez announced that it would not permit Fox News to host any of the 2020 presidential primary debates. Citing a recent story from the New Yorker, which alleged that there exist close ties between the White House and Fox News, Perez held that Fox News “is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates.” The DNC announcement has been met with significant pushback.

Many articles we identified as left-leaning worked to justify or explain the DNC’s decision. Vox ran an article titled “Why the DNC isn’t letting Fox News host a 2020 debate” and the NYmag ran the piece “Of Course Democrats Shouldn’t Let Fox News Host a Primary Debate.” The basic argument put forward in these pieces was that Fox News is too biased toward conservatives or toward the Trump Administration to be trusted to moderate a debate fairly.

Some media outlets that usually lean to the left actually ran stories criticizing the DNC’s decision — featuring headlines like “Democrats won’t debate on Fox News. They’d stand a better chance in 2020 if they did” (Washington Post) and “In defense of Fox News: What Democrats miss by shunning the right's favorite news channel” (Salon). It was a surprising move, but showed some balance in their coverage.

Both center and right-leaning pieces were more likely to lead with the news peg in headlines — like “DNC WON’T ALLOW FOX NEWS TO HOST ANY DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES” (Daily Caller) and “Democrats Won’t Partner With Fox News for Primary Debates” (WSJ). Then, in the content of the pieces, right-leaning articles spent more time focusing on the political backlash of the DNC’s decision.


Hunter Ford
Mike Cohen Pardon
Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters


We ran the numbers: There are 62 news articles covering this topic. 58% (36) are left leaning, 10% (6) center, 13% (8) right leaning, and 19% (12) articles were from sources not analyzed by Nobias.

The most recent White House legal controversy centers around whether Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, asked the President for a pardon. Last week, Cohen testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on a number of topics concerning his time employed by Trump. Last Friday, Trump tweeted that Cohen had asked him for a pardon. Half an hour later, Cohen replied on Twitter, denying the accusation.

Almost all news coverage of this story focused on the he-said-he-said aspect of the story, emphasizing the believability of different sources. Articles we identified as center often focused on the larger implications of Cohen’s testimony and what topics remain unaddressed, with headlines such as “The Big Unanswered Questions After Michael Cohen's Capitol Hill Marathon” (NPR).

Articles identified by us as left-leaning were more likely to focus readers’ attention on the various different rhetorical disagreements or Cohen’s specific accusations or on past statements of Trump’s that had misleading or factually incorrect content. Some such articles featured headlines like: ““The Trump team’s double standard on lying” (Washington Post),” “Trump and Cohen Bicker Over Who Obstructed Justice or Perjured First” (The Daily Beast),  and “Michael Cohen Slams Trump’s Women’s Day Tweet By Bringing Up Stormy Daniels” (HuffPost).

Right-leaning articles, on the other hand, were more likely to analyze the contradictions within Michael Cohen’s testimony. Some of these articles also covered the insider politics within the Democratic Party, drawing attention to potential ulterior motives behind media coverage — e.g.  “Jordan blasts Michael Cohen over pardon revelations, urges Dem chairman to back DOJ review of testimony” (Fox News) and “Lanny Davis says Michael Cohen had previous lawyer pursue Trump pardon, contradicting testimony” (Washington Times).


Hunter Ford
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal
PHOTO: BEBETO MATTHEWS/AP PHOTO.

PHOTO: BEBETO MATTHEWS/AP PHOTO.


We ran the numbers: There are 109 news articles covering this topic. 65% (71) are left leaning, 21% (23) center, 4% (4) right leaning, and 10% (11) articles were from sources not analyzed by Nobias.

In February Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey introduced the “Green New Deal,” a piece of legislation that would set goals to drastically cut carbon emissions (full text here). Legally speaking, the Green New Deal has no teeth; it's a “nonbinding resolution,” so if it were to pass it wouldn’t create new programs. Rather, it is a statement of support for anti-climate change legislation. Some prominent Democrats—like Senators Dianne Feinstein and Joe Manchin—have come out against the bill, while others—like Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris—have supported it. The Green New Deal appears to be opposed by every Republican politician on the federal level.

Articles identified by us as left-leaning were more likely to act as “explainers” discussing the specifics of the Green New Deal while stressing that none of the goals put forward would be required or enforceable. (See: “The Green New Deal, explained” (V0X) and “The Democratic Party Wants to Make Climate Policy Exciting” (The Atlantic).) They also more often included background on climate change research and information about global rising temperatures.

Articles identified by us as right-leaning, on the other hand, were more likely to focus on the outrage and skepticism with which the Green New Deal has been greeted. (See: “Democrats struggle to defend much-mocked Green New Deal” (Washington Times) and “HA! Greenpeace Co-Founder Took Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal Behind The Shed And Hacked It To Death” (Townhall).) Right-leaning articles were also more likely to include quotations from both Democrat and Republican politicians who believe the Green New Deal is unrealistic or unaffordable.

Articles of all political slants seem to agree that the Green New Deal in its current form would prove difficult to pass through Congress.

 

Hunter Ford
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG 2020
Christophe Ena/AP Washington Examiner

Christophe Ena/AP Washington Examiner


We ran the numbers: There are 67 news articles covering this topic. 24% (16) are left leaning, 46% (31) center, 15% (10) right leaning, and 15% (10) articles were from sources not analyzed by Nobias.

Over the past decade, former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg has considered running for president many times. This past Tuesday, he announced his decision not to run in 2020. “I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election,” he wrote, “but I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field.”

The articles covering this story shared very similar headlines—almost all led with a variation of the news peg: Michael Bloomberg announces he will not run for president. Most articles featured excerpts from Bloomberg’s statement, including his view that the proposed Green New Deal “stands no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years.”

The main differences in political coverage lay in the analysis of the broader 2020 political field. Articles identified by us as left-leaning were more likely to discuss the merits of Bloomberg’s other political projects—including efforts to combat climate change and enact gun control legislation. These articles were also more likely to discuss the steps Bloomberg took to decide whether to run, such as touring the country. A few of the articles we found to be more right-leaning delved deeper into his critique of the Green New Deal, discussing other skeptics’ views on the proposed legislation.

Bloomberg’s announcement has spurred discussion of the upcoming Democratic primary and the 2020 general election.

 

Hunter Ford
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


Hunter Ford
TRUMP AND CHINA
AFP/GETTY BBC

AFP/GETTY BBC

We ran the numbers: There are 42 news articles covering this topic. Of these, 7 (16%) are left leaning, 17 (40%) are center, 14 (33%) are right leaning, and 5 (12%) articles were from sources not analyzed by Nobias.

Over the past year, the United States has placed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and the Chinese government has retaliated by imposing duties on $110 billion worth of American products. Last week, President Trump signaled that the end of the U.S.-China trade war may be at hand, citing recent progress in his negotiations.


Journalists have covered this story from a number of different angles—some focusing on the internal dynamics of the Trump administration, some delving into the specifics of potential trade deals, and some analyzing the larger potential ramifications on the geopolitical stage. One important aspect to note is that “trade” is one of the topics that divide both liberal and conservative politicians, constituting what some refer to as a “political realignment.”


Articles from left-leaning sources generally focused more on the poor relationships or communication within the Trump administration or on China’s response to perceived American incompetence, with headlines like “Trump Undermines Top Trade Adviser as He Pushes for China Deal” (New York Times) and “China's Chief Negotiator Literally Laughs In Donald Trump's Face During Trade Talk” (Esquire). Right-leaning articles were more focused on technical aspects of the trade deal or simply quoted the President’s claim that progress is underway, with such titles as “One key reason Trump delayed the trade deadline with China” (Washington Examiner) and “Trump delays China tariff hike, announces Xi summit, citing 'substantial progress' in trade talks” (Fox News).


Those headlines mirrored a marked difference in content. Left-leaning articles were more likely to focus on the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s recent testimony that a trade deal with China is still in the distance or to mock inaccurate statements of Trump’s. Right-leaning articles were more likely to cite potential evidence for the President’s claim that there is substantive progress in negotiations with China.

Hunter Ford