CNN Guests Debate Media Bias Against Trump

In a recent edition of CNN's "Reliable Sources," host Brian Stelter asked a panel of guests for their take on whether the media is biased against President Donald Trump and whether the press is "secretly rooting" for the president's impeachment.

Trump has repeatedly complained about the media's treatment of him, even describing it as the worst "in history" at a speech to the 2017 graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, according to WJLA.

"No politician in history -- and I say this with great surety -- has been treated worse or more unfairly," the president said.

The guests on "Reliable Sources" had varying opinions on the validity of Trump's statement.

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said that Trump faced "massive bias" from the press every day, according to CNN.

"I think it's very fair to say that the overwhelming percentage of people who are reporters in this country tend to contribute to liberal causes and vote for liberal candidates," said Schlapp. "I think that's undisputed."

Schlapp argued that reporters who "felt like they gave Donald Trump a free pass during the primaries" were "overcompensating" by covering his administration harshly.

"I think hoping for an impeachment and watching for an impeachment are two very different things," said journalist Kaitlan Collins.

"I think reporters have scrutinized the president's actions, the way he fired James Comey, the fact that he said it was because of the Russia investigation, the fact that James Comey said that he asked him to shut down the investigation into Mike Flynn," she added. "So I think that reporters are watching the president's actions."

According to a Harvard University study that focused on coverage of Trump since his January 20 inauguration, the mainstream media in the U.S. devoted 41 percent of its coverage to Trump, with 80 percent of that coverage being negative.

"Trump's coverage during his first 100 days set a new standard for negativity," said the study, which found "nothing comparable to the level of unfavorable coverage" of Trump among previous U.S. presidents.

Seth Lewis, chair of emerging media studies at the University of Oregon, argued that rather than demonstrating a liberal bias, the media was simply seeking out stories that would draw in viewers.

"The liberal bias can be overblown and misunderstood," said Lewis. "Instead what the press has is a bias toward the intriguing, the new, the ironic and also the negative."

"So given that Trump is an individual who delivers all of those things in spades, then it's created this kind of dynamic where you see the coverage play out the way it has," Lewis added.

Anthony DiMaggio, a professor of media and American politics at Lehigh University, added that Trump and his administration have fostered a difficult relationship with the press.

"Trump has really enabled this because he and his administration and his spokespeople go out of their way to insult reporters," said DiMaggio. "So they created a very adversarial relationship on top of being the recipient of criticism."

Sources: CNN, WJLAShorestein Center / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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