Even George H.W. Bush's Death Is About The Donald

ANALYSIS
Even George H.W. Bush's Death Is About The Donald
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Even George H.W. Bush's Death Is About The Donald
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
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In the era of Trump, the news media seem to find a way to reframe every story to be about President Trump, from the mail bomber to the Khashoggi slaying. The death of the 41st U.S. president on Friday has been no different, with as much as 57 percent of global coverage including a mention of the 45th president.

The timeline below shows the percentage of worldwide online news coverage in 65 languages monitored by the GDELT Project in 15-minute increments that mentioned “Bush” and “death” since 4 a.m. GMT on Dec. 1 (10 p.m. Central Time Nov. 30, the time of his death). Blue represents all coverage mentioning Bush’s death, while the other colors indicate coverage that also mentioned Trump (orange), Obama (gray) or Clinton (yellow).

The initial burst of coverage focused on George H.W. Bush himself and likely was heavily composed of previously prepared obituaries that news outlets had written ahead of time. Over the next few hours, however, his successors became fixtures of the coverage. Bill Clinton, as Bush’s immediate successor, received the most mentions, followed by Trump and then Barack Obama.

The timeline below shows the percentage of coverage of Bush’s death that mentioned Trump (orange), Obama (gray) or Clinton (yellow). Here it is clear that the first 12 hours of coverage mentioned Clinton heavily, but by the following afternoon Clinton and Obama mentions were roughly equal, while mentions of Trump accounted for 30 percent to 95 percent of coverage.

Overall, 39 percent of coverage of Bush’s death mentioned Clinton, 26.3 percent mentioned Obama and 57 percent mentioned Trump.

As the current president responsible for issuing proclamations and orders relating to Bush’s state funeral, Trump would be expected to garner far more mentions than the two previous presidents. Yet, an anecdotal review of coverage shows that many of the articles mentioning Trump also emphasized his campaign trail attacks on Bush or contrasted their presidencies.

In short, as with everything else, it seems even the death of a former president has been reframed by the media into yet another story about Donald John Trump.

RealClear Media Fellow Kalev Leetaru is a senior fellow at the George Washington University Center for Cyber & Homeland Security. His past roles include fellow in residence at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government.



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