Did President Trump’s tweets about the NFL overshadow larger news stories? A Media Cloud analysis

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Despite raking in hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets, President Donald Trump’s tweets about black football players kneeling during the national anthem did not overshadow larger news stories since he first tweeted about the protests back in September. That’s according to a Media Cloud analysis of the president’s tweets and the top stories of the days on which he tweeted.

The president first tweeted about NFL players protesting the national anthem on Sept. 23, less than 24 hours after he made similar, vulgar remarks at a rally in Huntsville, Al. Much ink has been spilled since those initial remarks. In fact, nearly 2,000 sentences a day mentioning “Trump” and “NFL” were published across dozens of U.S. news outlets in late September, according to an analysis of dozens of U.S. online media outlets tracked by Media Cloud.

But since that initial surge in coverage, Trump’s athlete-shaming has been consistently drowned out by much larger news stories, from the fatal ambush of four U.S. soldiers in Niger to the ramping up of the Mueller investigation to Roy Moore’s Senate race to the DACA debate to Michael Wolff’s fiery book on the Trump administration.

Conclusion? While Trump may have sought to short-circuit the media apparatus with his social media antics, the mainstream media actually did its job and paid more attention to the more important stories of the day – at least according to this analysis.


Alejandro Serrano is a journalism student at Northeastern University. Aleszu Bajak is Storybench’s editor.

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