U.S. Media Coverage of Coronavirus Far More Negative Than Elsewhere

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

A new study shows that American media outlets have been far more negative in their coverage of the coronavirus than the media in other nations.

Not surprisingly, negative stories of Donald Trump and the pandemic were more likely to be published than positive stories about what was happening with the coronavirus. Indeed, since most of the media was obsessed with Trump, the good news about vaccines or treatments was often buried or unwritten.


Washington Examiner:

“Ninety one percent of stories by U.S. major media outlets are negative in tone versus fifty four percent for non-U.S. major sources and sixty five perfecent for scientific journals,” reads the working paper’s abstract. “The negativity of the U.S. major media is notable even in areas with positive scientific developments including school re-openings and vaccine trials. Media negativity is unresponsive to changing trends in new COVID-19 cases or the political leanings of the audience.”

The paper was written by researchers at Dartmouth College and Brown University. They examined over 20,000 news reports from the 15 top U.S. media outlets and 39 international sources. They concluded that “U.S. major media outlets are much more negative” when publishing similar stories to “non-U.S. sources.”

Also, it appears the teacher’s unions did their job well.

“There is a similar disconnect between U.S. major media reporting on school reopenings and scientific findings on the same topic; the reporting is overwhelmingly negative, while the scientific literature tells a more optimistic story,” the researchers wrote.

The paper cites a study on school reopenings and COVID-19 infections that found “infection rates among students remain low” and that “schools have not become the super-spreaders many feared.” The researchers note that an analysis of the available evidence painted a similar story, yet 90% of “school reopening articles from U.S. mainstream media are negative versus only 56 percent” of foreign media coverage.


The aforementioned coverage of Donald Trump was a large reason for the negative stories. In fact, the statistics are eye-popping.

“U.S. major media stories that discuss the benefits of social distancing or alternatively the benefits of mask wearing are less numbers than stories about President Trump not wearing a mask,” the researchers wrote. “Similarly, the terms ‘Trump and hydroxychloroquine’ receive more media coverage than do all stories about companies and researchers developing vaccines.”

The paper found that “mentions of COVID-19 vaccines” or “any names of the top ten institutions or companies working on” a vaccine were mentioned in 1,371 stories. But during the same time period, the researchers found “8,756 stories involving Trump and mask wearing and 1,636 stories about Trump and hydroxychloroquine.

The lecturing, hectoring media that went on and on about Trump’s mask-wearing was appalling when you consider that other stories of far more importance were given short shrift.

Part of the reason for the avalanche of negative stories was no doubt an effort to “sex up” the coverage in order to scare people. If there is one overriding, titanic failure of the American media in its coverage of the coronavirus it was its deliberate and calculated effort to create an atmosphere of hysteria about the coronavirus. There was political calculation in this approach, knowing that scaring people about the virus would drive opposition to Trump.


Mission accomplished.


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