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Trump’s Rough Week and the ‘Press Bias Avoidance’ Framework

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November 27, 2022 10:30 a.m.

Yesterday morning TPM Reader MS asked, “Is it my imagination or has the press turned against Trump?” It may seem that way and perhaps it is effectively the case. But not precisely. What’s happened over the last week — and especially in response to the Kanye/Fuentes/Trump hoedown — illustrates a key feature of the political journalism and news ecosystems.

No, it’s not that the press has turned against Trump. It’s that Republican political elites are not defending him. That changes the tenor of press coverage in clear and immediate ways. If one party is defending something or supporting it, it trips off the framework of “bias” or rather what we might call “press bias avoidance.” So such and such happened or so and so did this. Many say it’s bad. But what do their defenders say? Their defenders say X. It’s a story with two sides. Events like the January 6th insurrection and the Big Lie have put this model under strain. But it’s persistent and robust.

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