Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Berkman Center Newsfeed 2017-08-16

Summary:

Teaser

In this study, we analyze both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election. We document that the majority of mainstream media coverage was negative for both candidates, but largely followed Donald Trump’s agenda.

Publication Date

16 Aug 2017

Author(s)

Thumbnail Image: 

Executive Summary

<!--/*--><![CDATA[/* ><!--*/p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica}/*--><!]]>*/

In this study, we analyze both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election. We document that the majority of mainstream media coverage was negative for both candidates, but largely followed Donald Trump’s agenda: when reporting on Hillary Clinton, coverage primarily focused on the various scandals related to the Clinton Foundation and emails. When focused on Trump, major substantive issues, primarily immigration, were prominent. Indeed, immigration emerged as a central issue in the campaign and served as a defining issue for the Trump campaign.

We find that the structure and composition of media on the right and left are quite different. The leading media on the right and left are rooted in different traditions and journalistic practices. On the conservative side, more attention was paid to pro-Trump, highly partisan media outlets. On the liberal side, by contrast, the center of gravity was made up largely of long-standing media organizations steeped in the traditions and practices of objective journalism.

Our data supports lines of research on polarization in American politics that focus on the asymmetric patterns between the left and the right, rather than studies that see polarization as a general historical phenomenon, driven by technology or other mechanisms that apply across the partisan divide.

The analysis includes the evaluation and mapping of the media landscape from several perspectives and is based on large-scale data collection of media stories published on the web and shared on Twitter.

Overview of Methods

  • Cross-linking patterns between media sources offer a view of authority and prominence within the media world.

  • The sharing of media sources by users on Twitter and Facebook provides a broader perspective on the role and influence of media sources among people engaged in politics through Twitter and Facebook.

  • The differential media sharing patterns of Trump and Clinton supporters on Twitter enable a detailed analysis of the role of partisanship in the formation and function of media structures.

  • Content analysis using automated tools supports the tracking of topics over time among media sources.

  • Qualitative media analysis of individual case studies enhances our understanding of media function and structure. 

 

Key Takeaways

Donald Trump succeeded in shaping the election agenda. Coverage of Trump overwhelmingly outperformed coverage of Clinton. Clinton’s coverage was focused on scandals, while Trump’s coverage focused on his core issues.

 

<!--/*--><![CDATA[/* ><!--*/p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 7.0px Helvetica; color: #c1394f}/*--><!]]>*/

Figure 1: Number of sentences by topic and candidate from May 1, 2015, to November 7, 2016

<!--/*--><![CDATA[/* ><!--*/p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 10.0px Helvetica}/*--><!]]>*/

Attempts by the Clinton campaign to define her campaign on competence, experience, and policy positions were drowned out by coverage of

Link:

https://cyber.harvard.edu/publications/2017/08/mediacloud

From feeds:

CLS / ROC » Berkman Klein Center
Berkman Planet Test Hub » Berkman Center Newsfeed
imeister's Hub » Berkman Center Newsfeed

Tags:

Authors:

djones

Added:

08/16/2017, 08:00