Journalism

White House Concerned Over News Media’s Lack of Positive Coverage?

©Jan Hanus/123RF

A recent report suggests the Biden Administration has been campaigning for more positive coverage from media outlets. That’s disturbing.

The New York Post recently cited a report from CNN’s Reliable Sources claiming the White House was concerned about how the press is covering President Joe Biden. The report claimed the White House, therefore, has been begging the news media for positive coverage.

If that’s true, that raises a lot of questions.

The biggest, it seems to me, is why the White House seems so out of touch with that the news media’s job happens to be.

The media isn’t required — and shouldn’t be expected — to give positive coverage to any president.

Supporters of President Donald Trump will surely argue that it gave virtually none to him. (That depends, of course, on the media outlet. Some — the ones they watch — certainly seem to give their share of positive coverage to Trump.)

But the fact that there are Biden supporters who now claim that their man isn’t being given glowing reviews left and right might just be a good thing.

The media, in covering the president, shouldn’t serve as public relations agents. The media should question what it’s told by our elected leaders. It should report discrepancies. It should look for problems and, hopefully, report on possible means that could solve them.

Anyone who believes the media’s job — no matter who’s in the Oval Office — should be to collect its readers together for a chorus of Kumbaya seriously misses the point of a free press.

How negative is Biden coverage?

I’ll give you the short answer: It depends on whom you ask.

A recent opinion piece in The Washington Post claims the media treats Biden “as bad or worse” than it ever treated Trump. It then offers what it considers “proof” in the form of a curious algorithmic interpretation of coverage.

Others called into question the reliability of a computer formula applied to coverage. In particular, an analysis of the data reveals that much was rosy until August when all Hell seemed to have broken loose in the way the media “treated” poor Biden. In August, of course, the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, 13 U.S. Servicemembers died in an attack at the Kabul airport, and a U.S. drone accidentally killed an Afghan family.

All of that just within a couple of days.

As The Hill accurately pointed out, there’s simply no way to positively spin all of that.

Sometimes, bad things happen. It isn’t the media’s job to exaggerate it, but it’s not the media’s job to sugarcoat it, either.

But it always depends on whom you ask.

Pew Research, whose analysis I might trust a good bit more than an algorithm review, took its own look. It found news coverage of Biden’s early days in office “modestly more negative than positive.” That’s not a bad thing, folks. The media should be questioning everything, even a new leader.

It also found an interesting contrast between Biden and Trump’s early days in coverage. It claims most stories on Biden focused on “his ideology and policy agenda” while most on Trump focused on “his character and leadership.”

I don’t know that even this can be considered positive or negative. Biden, as a career politician, was a known force in politics. While he’d never been president before, he obviously has some political leadership experience to have held the second-highest office.

Trump, on the other hand, touted his leadership skills as a selling point of how he could get things done. The media, for that reason, couldn’t be wrong to examine that.

Trump aligned himself with the Religious Right, which certainly put a reasonable spotlight on his character.. The media has certainly covered Biden’s stance on abortion despite his insistence that he is a faithful and dedicated Catholic. It also examined the church’s take on abortion and a debate on whether Biden should receive communion.

Pew found media outlets with a far-right leaning audience gave more positive coverage to Trump than Biden. Likewise, outlets with a far left-leaning audience gave more positive coverage to Biden than Trump. Outlets with a decent mix gave a good bit more negative coverage to Trump. But they seem to have given more neutral coverage to Biden.

Neutral is what all coverage should be.

Then again, it comes down to how you determine whether coverage is neutral, negative or positive. Like The Hill said, some stories can only be negative. That should not, however, suggest bias.

Unreasonable expectations

With social media and armchair pundits by the millions, the White House — every White House to come, in fact — has a public relations nightmare on its hands. Every day of every presidency has been and will provide the potential for a major political black eye.

I don’t think you can change that now.

The solutions to problems don’t come quickly. They never do.

But if political leaders spent more time working on them and less time trying to spin things their way, maybe more problems might actually get closer to being solved.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

But I do think asking the media for positive coverage is too much to ask. By a long shot.

Leave a Response

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.