As a follow-up to his sentiment analysis of media coverage of Biden and Trump, Dana Milbank notes a hell of a “coincidence”:
As I wrote in the column, “it’s not just Politico.” That said, Politico took a sharply negative turn against Biden in November, from which I drew the headlines. It was -.0545 on Biden. Media average was -.0347. (2)— Dana Milbank (@Milbank) December 5, 2021
It’s interesting that Germany’s Axel Springer completed its takeover of Politico on Oct. 18, and that’s exactly when Politico took its sharply negative turn against Biden. Maybe this explains the pushback from @RyanLizza— Dana Milbank (@Milbank) December 5, 2021
Whether this is ideological, or because “DEMS IN DISARRAY!” stories drive more clicks than “infrastructure bill passes after bog-standard internal negotiations” stories, is beside the point.
But what really drives me crazy is the constant denials of agency. Afghanistan is a perfect example. That the coverage of Biden’s withdrawal was extremely negative is beyond dispute. But the implicit idea that there was some non-“chaotic” way of ending a nation-building project that is such a disastrous failure that the nominal state collapses even before the troops leave is a choice, and the idea that the “chaos” is the primary responsibility of Biden rather than the architects and extenders of the war who relentlessly lied about how well the nation-building was going is a choice. You can argue that the choice is a correct one if you like — although this is rarely done explicitly for obvious reasons — but you can’t claim that you’re just neutrally reporting “news.”
I concede the point — the negative headlines are probably the reason why empirical analysis reveals a lot of negative headlines.