2 Newspapers Analyzed Trump's Pandemic Language

'NYT' and 'Washington Post' find that Trump is big on self-congratulations, short on empathy
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2020 8:42 AM CDT
2 Newspapers Analyzed Trump's Pandemic Language
President Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House Monday, April 27, 2020.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The New York Times and the Washington Post have both come out with stories this week based on a similar premise: They analyzed all of Trump's coronavirus press briefings—before the president announced he would start skipping them—to look for patterns in his language. The results aren't flattering, with both newspapers concluding that Trump spent far more time congratulating himself and attacking political enemies than expressing empathy or conveying accurate medical advice. Some specifics:

  • The Post found that Trump himself spoke for more than 28 hours in 35 briefings, taking up 60% of the time allotted.
  • In the last three weeks, Trump spoke for 13 hours, and the Post breakdown has two hours on attacks, 45 minutes on praising himself or his team, and 4 and a half minutes on condolences for victims. The latter is half the time he spent pushing a malarial drug the FDA just warned against.

  • The Times breakdown is by word, and it looked at all 260,000 uttered by Trump. The most common are self-congratulations, at about 600. Trump "does credit others (more than 360 times) for their work, but he also blames others (more than 110 times) for inadequacies in the state and federal response." His attempts to express empathy or foster national unity came in at 160.
  • In sum: "At 260,000 words and counting, enough to fill a 700-page book, Mr. Trump has been writing his own history of the virus, one that is favorable to him, settles scores and is often at odds with the facts," per the Times. "There were at least 130 examples of falsehoods or exaggerations." The Post has a similar take: "The president has offered little in the way of accurate medical information or empathy for coronavirus victims, instead focusing on attacking his enemies and lauding himself and his allies."
  • See the full Times analysis here and the Post analysis here. (Trump argues the mainstream media is too biased and negative at the briefings.)

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