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Content analysis of media coverage inequality in the 2016 presidential election

Emily Eisert and Elizabeth Stoeger

Linfield College

Table of Contents



Literature Review..4










This study sought to ascertain whether media bias based on gender was present in the

2016 election. Forms of address denote respect. A content analysis of 105 transcripts from

morning news shows on CBS, NBC, and ABC, found that Clinton was called by her last or full

name more than she was called Hillary. The same was true for Trump. This study found that

Trump was mentioned more frequently than Clinton overall.



From Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in

1917, to Sandra Day OConnor, the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, women have played

a vital role in American politics. Today we are witnesses to history, a milestone for women in

politics and, indeed, U.S. politics as a whole. In 2016, Democrat Hillary Clinton became the first

woman to formally receive and accept a major political partys nomination for president. Her

opponent is another first; the political arena has never seen a candidate quite like the Republican

nominee, business mogul Donald Trump. The media have substantially contributed, for better or

worse, to this election season as much or, arguably, more so than in the past.

Lippmann (1921) wrote, We shall assume that what each man does is based not on direct

and certain knowledge, but on pictures made by himself or given to himself (p. 25). This is still

enormously relevant today, as print newspapers and televised news shows help us create, and in

large part constitute, these pictures. The way the media discusses Clinton and Trump might affect

the way viewers perceive them and, potentially, the way they vote. Previous research on this

topic suggests that women in politics almost always encounter sexism, both conscious and

unconscious, due to peoples basic assumptions and gender stereotypes. Women come up against

many forms of pervasive sexism when running for political office but especially when running

for president and this gender bias is still problematic today (Smith, Paul & Paul, 2007). This

paper will examine the ways in which gender bias is still present in presidential elections through

the use of first names. We will look at forms of address as well as the some of the language used

to discuss Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in order to analyze the ways in which unconscious

media bias played a role in this election.

Literature Review

Though many acknowledge that there is generally some sexism at play when women run

for political office, some have suggested that gender does not have any substantive effect on the

success of female candidates and does not bias the voter. Darcy and Schramm (1977) argued that

the gender of the candidate does not affect the outcome of the election (p. 9). Voter recognition

and the low numbers of women running for office is more directly connected to a female

candidates success or failure than is gender. Darcy and Schramm concentrate on women running

for positions in Congress and argue that because women have been successful in the political

field, gender does not cloud the voting process. It may not be realistic to think that gender

doesnt play a role in politics.

Sanbonmatsu (2002) takes a less extreme position by saying, the success of female

candidates does not preclude an effect for gender stereotypes on voting behavior (p. 20).

Moreover, this underlying predisposition to vote for male or female candidates can be explained

by gender stereotypes about candidate beliefs, issue competency, and traits, and by voter gender

(p. 20). Sanbonmatsu outlines a gender schema theory that includes three parts. First, many

voters do hold a basic preference for one gender over another, and they use gender as an

indicator of the probable political positions of a candidate. Second, the preference can be

explained by unconscious gender stereotypes. Finally, that this does in fact affect voter

preference (p. 22). Sanbonmatsu states that though female candidates may win, bias can be

present. Voting behavior is a complex process to analyze and there are many factors, like voter

background, that may affect voting preferences, but ultimately Sanbonmatsu argues that gender

stereotypes do influence voter partiality.

Though Sanbonmatsu does not outline voter preferences in presidential elections

specifically, there is evidence to suggest that this same gender bias is present and perhaps

heightened in a presidential race. Smith, Paul, and Paul (2007) agree with Darcy and Schramm

(1977) that bias is less evident in congressional and Senate races but state that there is still a

negative bias against women who run for president. They found no statistical evidence for

gender-bias among evaluations for Senate candidates but this cannot be said of the presidency

(Smith, Paul, & Paul, 2007, p. 230). Because all past U.S. presidents have been men, it is more

than fair to say that gender-bias still exists in favor of male presidential candidates (p. 230). In

their research, they include a gender-neutral candidate in their survey and found that the gender-

neutral candidate is ranked higher than a clearly female candidate and on par with a male

candidate (p. 230). When there are no other distinguishing features, people will often use gender

as the deciding factor, and yet no direct evidence of gender-bias was evident in voter intentions

(p. 30). The frameworks most people build for themselves include an unconscious gender bias.

This is in accordance with Ridgeway (2009), who argues that gender is central to the way

people conceptualize themselves and those around them. She identifies gender as one of the main

ways people structure social relations, and in order to manage social relations in real time, some

of these cultural-category systems must be so simplified that they can be quickly applied as

framing devices to virtually anyone to start the process of defining self and other (emphasis in

original, p. 147). This is what Lippmann (1921) calls stereotypes: culturally constituted,

simplified categories of people and things that help organize the world efficiently. Stereotypes

about gender are a large part of the frameworks we create for ourselves.

Americans harbor stereotypes associated not only with gender but also political parties.

According to Winter (2010), certain gendered traits are attributed to certain parties and these

attributions are the result of both implicit and explicit mental connections between gender

stereotypes and those of political parties. Democrats are thought of as the more feminine party,

whereas Republicans are considered more masculine. That being said, Winter also notes that

President Barack Obamas more feminine approach to politics did little to tarnish his image

because he projected a moral, disciplined kind of masculinity (p. 610). The 2008 election was

also historic because for the first time, America had an African-American man running against a

female candidate for the Democratic nomination. Many television news stations dealt with this

situation well, fairly covering both candidates, but a study found that racial and ethnic minorities

as well as women are more likely to receive coverage based on their status as marginalized

groups (Eargle, Esmail, & Sullivan, 2008). When talking about African-Americans or women,

the media are more likely to discuss them in a way that weakens their chance of success in

electoral races. The same is also true for candidates who are especially young or old or part of a

religious minority.

Carlin and Winfrey (2009) discuss the role that sexism and stereotypes played in Hillary

Clinton and Sarah Palins 2008 presidential and vice presidential campaigns. Each encountered

sexism in different ways that had a similar effect on their campaign. The sexism Palin

encountered was based on her sex appeal while Clintons was the opposite. She was thought of

as not feminine enough and not stereotypically attractive. Both Clinton and Palin were referred

to using sexist terms, which ultimately hurt their campaigns. These sexist terms can be put into

four stereotypical categories for professional women. They are the seductress or sex object,

mother, pet, and iron maiden (Kanter, 1977). Kanter says that professional women can be put

into each of these categories, but Carlin and Winfrey argue that Palin and Clinton were affected

by each of these stereotypes and played a role in the way people thought of them as a candidate

and the way news outlets reported on them, often in a negative way.

Using stereotypes to talk about women is to take away from their credibility as candidates

and lessen them in comparison to their male counterparts. The findings of Carlin and Winfreys

(2009) analysis show that sexism is so ingrained in culture today that it is not often distinguished

as such when talking about female candidates. Both Clinton and Palin had shortcomings when it

came to their campaigns, but those issues were not directly related to their gender as was most

reported on in the media. Miller and Peake (2013) concluded that there was disproportionate

coverage of Palins qualifications, where there was 40% of coverage on her qualifications and

60% was not. This was based on the negative press she received, showing that most of the press

negatively surrounding her as a candidate did not include her qualifications as a reason to look at

her negatively, but rather personality traits and appearance. This is a common trend for coverage

of women who run for a high-level office. It is important to note these issues with the 2008

campaign in order to understand the sexist terms and stereotypes that are often used when

referencing women, particularly in their political pursuits.

Prior to Clinton and Palins runs for two of the highest offices in the nation, another

woman, Elizabeth Dole, was the first women to be a real contender to a major party presidential

nomination in 2000. Her run was only seven months long, but the press coverage provided an

insight into how women are reported on when running for such a powerful position that has

historically been only held by men. Heldman, Carroll and Olson (2005) further explore the role

that gender plays when a woman runs for one of the most masculinized positions in politics.

Dole was one of the front-runners for the Republican nomination, behind George W. Bush, but

received less media coverage than other male candidates who were not as favored by the public.

When she was covered by the media, it was in a way that was gendered and hindered her

campaign. The media coverage of Dole was focused more on her appearance and personality

traits, which is often the main focus of the coverage of other female politicians.

Based on the analysis and Dole dropping out of the race early, there is a possibility that

her shortened campaign was due to the media coverage, or lack thereof, she received. Unlike

Clinton and Palin, Doles problem with media coverage was not as much due to female

stereotypes, but rather an overall lack of press attention. The coverage she received was

gendered, but not to the extent of Clinton and Palin. The lack of news coverage that Dole faced

was not as much of a problem for Clinton in 2008, but the gendered coverage and stereotypes

were still prevalent in the way Clinton was reported upon (Millar & Peake, 2013).

Women getting less news coverage than men has been seen prior to presidential elections.

A study of Senate races between 1982-86 by Kahn and Goldenberg (1991) shows that women

who run for office often do not receive the same amount of coverage as men and the coverage

they do receive is often more about the viability of them in the position rather than the issues

they stand for and what they would like to do in office. By spending time on the viability of a

candidate, there is less of a focus on the issues they are running on and therefore voters do not

have enough information to make an informed vote.

While there was negative coverage of some female candidates, there was also a more

positive side. Female journalists reporting on female candidates were more likely to focus on the

female issues that are important to voters and provide coverage about the issues the candidate

is running on rather than more superficial aspects of the candidate. Female reporters can be an

important ally to female politicians running for office due to their ability to see beyond some of

the female stereotypes (Kahn & Goldenberg, 1991). Since these races in the 1980s and early

2000s, there has been substantial coverage of female candidates running for higher offices,

although the coverage is still gendered and is often affected by the viability of the candidate.

Women continue to make strides in politics and are becoming more respected as political

actors. As women run for the highest offices in the United States, they are still working to

overcome gendered media coverage that can be inhibiting to the successes of their campaigns.

The media are a powerful source from which voters often formulate their political opinions; they

have a powerful role in shaping those opinions based on the information they choose to relay to

media consumers. With women becoming more respected as political leaders, there have been

improvements in the type of information that is reported on. However, as has been the case in

past female-led campaigns, gendered coverage is prevalent and can affect a voter's opinion of a

candidate in a negative way.

Research Question

This study searches to determine to what extent was gender bias through morning news anchors

language and title usage present in the medias coverage of the 2016 presidential election.

Research Question 1: Will Hillary Clinton be addressed by her full name, an alternate

title and last name, or solely by her first name more often?

Hypothesis 1: Hillary Clinton will be addressed by her full name or an alternate title and

last name more frequently than by solely her first name.

Research Question 2: Will Donald Trump be addressed by his full name, an alternate

title and last name, or solely by his first name more often?

Hypothesis 2: Donald Trump will be called Donald more frequently than Clinton will

be called Hillary because he has not held any previous political office and is a

newcomer to the political scene.

Research Question 3: Will gender play a role in how Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

are addressed and talked about by morning news anchors?

Hypothesis 3: Gender will not play as large of a role in the way the two candidates are

talked about because Clinton has more qualifications for president than Donald Trump.

Though a similar study done on the 2008 presidential election by Uscinski and Goren

(2011) found that newscasters referred to Clinton more times by her first name than they did

other presidential candidates, we believed that it would be the reverse during the 2016 elections.

We hypothesized that they would call her more frequently by her full name or a title and her last

name during this election because since 2008, she has served as Secretary of State. Because it is

a prestigious position and accords whoever holds the office high honor, it seems to follow that

they should be referred to in more respectful terms. Similarly, someone who has not held

political office before, like Donald Trump, might not hold as much sway with the press and,

therefore, would be less respected than someone who has held multiple. In addition, those with

higher statuses are generally referred to by title and last name, a more formal mode of address,

rather than by first (Slobin, Miller, Porter & McGuire 1968). Naming denotes respect and in a

presidential race with the first female candidate of a major political party, respect is a vital issue

to examine.


We conducted a content analysis of 105 transcripts of three network morning shows, 35

per show, each on separate news channels. The shows and networks were: CBS This Morning on

CBS, the TODAY Show on NBC, and Good Morning America on ABC. These are the three most

watched morning shows on the three major television networks. They are a good indication of

what most people in America were viewing for the 2016 presidential election. The main anchors

for Good Morning America are Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Lara Spencer. On

CBS This Morning, they are Charlie Rose, Gayle King, and Norah ODonnell. The anchors for

the TODAY show are Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. The transcripts were taken from the

Lexis Nexus Academic Database. In order to quantify the data, the level of analysis we analyzed

was words. Before beginning to work independently, we both analyzed four of the same

transcripts to ensure intercoder reliability and we counted the same number of mentions, thus we

proceeded with our research.

We narrowed the results by using the search term Clinton and Trump, in order to

guarantee that there would be at least one mention of either candidate in each transcript. Then we

narrowed the results further by show and finally by date. We selected transcripts from April 12,

2015, the date Clinton announced her candidacy, to November 8, 2016, election day. The

decision to begin in April was based on the assumption that coverage of both candidates would

substantially increase when Clinton officially joined the presidential race, after months of

speculation. The sample was created by selecting the first transcript then analyzing every 20th

transcript after that. We took a sample before the primaries and right after, then a second sample

from August up to election day so we were able to contrast the two time periods. This allowed us

to find out if the patterns of address that had been established earlier had changed any as the

election drew closer. We began the second sample in August because election day was about

three months out and coverage would be more intense and focused on the election.

We counted each time Hillary Clinton was mentioned broken down into 4 categories: by

first name only (Hillary); as former Secretary of State; by last name only (Clinton); by full name

(Hillary Clinton). In the same way, a mention of Donald Trump was broken down by: first name

only (Donald); the title of businessman or the like; last name only (Trump); or full name

(Donald Trump). It was difficult to compare Clinton to Donald Trump because he was not a

politician prior to this election. We found that either businessman or Mr. Trump was the most

comparable to the formal title Secretary Clinton. These are the most common forms of address

for the candidates and we included a notes section for any mentions that did not fit into the

these categories or other interesting language the anchors used.

Any mention of Clinton or Trump, by first or last name, title, or nickname, constituted an

observation. We coded for both formality of address as well as whether the appearance of either

candidate was mentioned, a spouse was referenced, or the candidates physical or emotional state

was mentioned (see Appendix A for content analysis sheet). Appearance refers to clothing, style

of dress, and anything pertaining to external appearance. We counted any mention to either Bill

Clinton or Melania Trump in any context as a reference to a spouse. We did this to determine if

Bill Clinton was referred to more often than Melania Trump. The physical or emotional state of a

candidate was defined as anything describing their mood, countenance, personality traits, or

physical health. We chose these things to code for because there seemed to be many references

throughout the campaign to either candidates appearance, Clintons sickness and Trumps

distinctive hair.

On every transcript, there were written descriptions of the graphics shown on the screen

to accompany the broadcast but we did not include those when counting mentions. Similarly, we

did not include direct quotes from either candidate about the other. If Trump mentioned Clintons

name, or vice versa, or if either of them were mentioned by another politician, we did not count

that as a mention. It was only counted if one of the candidates was referenced by a news anchor.


The results among the three networks varied slightly, but were not too different. In our

content analysis, we looked at three different news organizations during two different times,

before the primaries and post-primaries leading up to the election. These two time periods are

different and so have different results in that the race is narrowed down to two candidates in the

later sample. By dividing the results in two, we are able to see the differences in how often the

candidates are referenced and the ways in which they are referenced in comparison to each other

rather than the other candidates that were running during the primaries.

The results of CBS during the race for the Democratic and Republican nominations found

disparities between the two candidates in forms of address. In the sample provided, Hillary

Clinton was mentioned by first name three times in comparison to Donald Trumps one time.

Hillary Clinton was mentioned by the title of secretary one time, whereas Donald Trump was

referenced as mister Trump three times. The sample that was taken showed that Hillary Clinton

was referenced a total of 77 times. She was mentioned by only her last name 33 times and her

full name 40 times. Donald Trump was mentioned a total of 208 times in the sample that was

taken. He was mentioned by last name 115 times and by his full name 93 times (Appendix B).

Donald Trump was mentioned a total of 131 times more than Hillary Clinton in the 25 sample

newscasts in the primary race.

In addition to the titles used and the number of time each candidate was mentioned, there

was mention of the candidate's spouse, their appearance and their physical and emotional state.

In the 25 sample newscasts surveyed during this time, Bill Clinton was mentioned twice and

Melania Trump was mentioned zero times. Hillary Clintons appearance was explicitly

mentioned two times within the sample and Donald Trumps was mentioned one time. Hillary

Clintons mental or physical state was mentioned one time. This was in regards to her physical

well being, which was criticized by Donald Trump and then was discussed by the news anchors.

Donald Trumps appearance was mentioned three times, mostly in regards to his hair. Most of the

mentions beyond these points had to do with each candidate's standing in each state or against

their opponents.

The 10 samples taken in the lead up to the election yielded similar results as during the

primaries. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump were mentioned by first name or by a more

formal title, such as secretary or mister, during this time period. Hillary Clinton was mentioned

by last name a total of 15 times and by her full name 25 times. Donald Trump was mentioned by

last name a total of 37 times and by his full name 45 times. Each candidates physical or

emotional state was mentioned one time in this sample. Most of the discussion surrounding the

candidates had to do with their standing in each state and the possible paths for each candidate to

win. Overall, Hillary Clinton was mentioned a total of 117 times over the two time periods on

CBS This Morning. Donald Trump was mentioned a total of 294 times. Donald Trump was

mentioned 177 more times than Hillary Clinton in the 35 sample transcripts that were analyzed

(Appendix F).

The results of NBC are somewhat different than those from CBS. Hillary Clinton was not

mentioned by first name during the primaries. Donald Trump was only mentioned one time by

his first name. Hillary Clinton was mentioned by the formal title of secretary 13 times. Donald

Trump was mentioned in a more formal way as mister or business mogul a total of 11 times

during the primary time period. Hillary Clinton was mentioned by her last name a total of 64

times and by her full name 55 times. Donald Trump was mentioned by his last name 104 times

and his full name 77 times. Hillary Clinton was mentioned a total of 132 times and Donald

Trump was mentioned 193 times (Appendix C). Donald Trump was mentioned 61 more times

than Hillary Clinton.

During the primary time period, Bill Clinton was mentioned five times. Melania Trump

was mentioned two times. Hillary Clintons physical or emotional state was mentioned seven

times and Donald Trumps was mentioned nine times. This indicates that there was more talk

about them personally in addition to their success in each state.

During the run up to Nov. 8, there were slightly different results. Hillary Clinton was

mentioned by first name five times and Donald Trump was not mentioned by first name at all.

Hillary Clinton was mentioned with the formal title of secretary three times and Donald Trump

was referred to more formally three times as well. Hillary Clinton was mentioned by last name

31 times and by her first name 20 times. Donald Trump was mentioned by his last name 44 times

and by his full name 38 times. Hillary Clinton was mentioned a total of 59 times and Donald

Trump was mentioned a total of 85 times. Donald Trump was mentioned 26 times more than

Hillary Clinton (Appendix G). Bill Clinton was mentioned two times in the samples collected

from this time period and Melania Trump was not mentioned. Donald Trumps emotional or

physical state was mentioned three times.


The results for ABC echoed those of CBS. During the primary time, Clinton was called

by her first name six times in comparison to Trumps two times. She was not called Secretary

Clinton at all in the sample from ABC and Trump was not called Mr. or business man at all

during the primary season. Clinton was called by her last name a total of 11 times and by her full

name 48 times. While Trump was called by his last name 42 times and his full name 74 times

during the primaries (Appendix D). Bill Clinton was mentioned nine times and her physical or

emotional state, three times. Melania Trump was mentioned four times and Trumps physical or

emotional state was mentioned nine times. In total, Clinton was mentioned 66 times to Trumps

117 during the primary season. He was mentioned 51 more times than Clinton in total and was

mentioned by full name 26 more times.

In the samples taken from ABC in the final months of the election, Clinton was not

mentioned by first name at all while Trump was called Donald twice. Hillary Clinton was

called by her last name 22 times, double the amount of times she was called Clinton in the

primary sample. Trump was mentioned by his last name 52 times, 10 more than during the

primary season. Clinton was called by her full name 22 times in the months immediately before

the election. During this time, she was mentioned by her last name only 50% of the time and by

her full name the other 50%. On the other hand, Trumps full name was used only 17 times

during the final months of the election, 24% of the time. He was called by his last name 75% of

the time. Bill Clinton was mentioned only twice and Melania Trump once during his time period.

Hillary Clintons physical or emotional state was mentioned once and Trumps was mentioned

three times. In total, Clinton was mentioned 44 times and Trump 69 times in the three months

before election day (Appendix H).



This election was unlike anything we have seen before. The prior study done by Uscinski

and Goren (2011) came up with different results likely because the 2008 and 2016 elections were

so different. Studying the 2008 election, Uscinski and Goren found that Hillary Clinton was

called by her first name more often than her male counterpart. However, in this study, we found

that she was overwhelmingly called by her full name or last name more than by her first. The

first hypothesis was supported. In total, she was called Hillary only 14 times throughout all of

our data, a mere 3% of the time. ABC called her Hillary during the primary season the most

often (six times) and CBS called her by her first name the fewest total number of times (three).

In this respect, we were correct in our assumption, but she was not called Secretary Clinton as

many times as we thought. She was only called by that title 4% of the time, a total of 17

mentions. She was called Secretary Clinton the most by NBC news anchors. This was

surprising to us but it is consistent with previous research done on female politicians. Falk (2008)

found that, historically, female presidential candidates have been referred to in more casual terms

than male candidates. Donald Trump was called by his first name only six times, a paltry 0.8% of

the time. In this way, media bias can still be seen in forms of address as Hillary Clinton was

referred to in more casual terms, by first name, more frequently than her male counterpart.

Though it was an unusual election, in this respect, it did follow a well-established political


Our second hypothesis was not supported because although Trump has not held previous

office, he was called by his last or full name many more times than by first name. He was called

by his first name six times across all three shows. All three networks talked about him more

frequently during the primary stage of the election than during the final months. This can be

largely attributed to the small sample size we analyzed during the final months of the election, 10

for each show. The data from the three months before the election is not generalizable because of

the limited number of samples, which is a flaw in our design. If we had analyzed an equal

number, it would have been easier to compare results. Overall, Trump was called by his last or

full name 93% of the time while Clinton was called by her last or full name a close 92% of the


While there are differences between how many times Hillary Clinton is referred to by her

first name than Donald Trump or how often formal titles are used for each of the candidates, a

different, arguably more intriguing trend appeared in our data. Donald Trump is referred to far

more often than Hillary Clinton by each news organization. Trump was mentioned a total of 797

times across networks and Clinton was mentioned 419 times (see Appendix E). Although we did

not track the times that the candidates talk about each other in in this content analysis, we found

that a good portion of the time that Hillary Clinton is talked about, it is in reference to something

Donald Trump said or a direct quote from him. There are also more interviews between Donald

Trump and the news anchors, particularly on NBC, than there are with Hillary Clinton. In fact, in

the samples that we drew from, there is not a single interview between Clinton and the anchors.

The differences between the two candidates television coverage across the three networks is

significant. Even though the reports may not have always been the best about Trump, in our data,

his name is mentioned, in some form or another, 378 more times than Clinton. As the saying

goes, any publicity is good publicity and this seems to ring true for Donald Trump. The

amount of coverage he received placed his name in the minds of people throughout the country.

Based on the evidence we found, his victory could partially be attributed to the amount of media

coverage he received.

Because this election was different from any before, the way the candidates were covered

was a little different than previous elections. This year, it was less about the policies each

candidate espoused, and more of a reality show style competition. The outlandish remarks Trump

would make created more of a buzz about him and provided him with more air time. He was able

to overshadow Clinton because of this. In total, Trump was mentioned 378 more times than

Clinton. The study by Heldman, Carroll and Olson (2005) showed that Elizabeth Dole received

less media coverage than her counterparts and that she wasnt taken as seriously as a candidate.

However, we found that while Clinton received less coverage than Trump, it was likely not

because the newscasters viewed her as a less serious candidate. It was because she could not

compete with the constant developments Trump was providing to the media. He was so different

from any other political, especially presidential, candidate that the media would naturally take an

interest in him. Media coverage of Trump began with the primaries. This is likely due to the fact

that the fight for the Republican nomination was far more interesting at the time than the

Democratic nomination because there was an unusually high number of people running. Donald

Trump pushed his way to the top of the pack and maintained the spotlight throughout that time

period. Therefore, he initially had more coverage than Clinton and this remained true throughout

the campaign.

This study also examined how often appearance was mentioned in relation to the

candidates as well as references to their physical or emotional states. There are very few

mentions of Clintons physical appearance, only two mild ones from CBS, which means that

overtly sexist comments concerning outward appearance were kept to a minimum this election

cycle, a difference from 2008. The two from CBS concerned her illness and were not

inappropriate, as her pneumonia and health troubles did become a campaign issue. One NBC

anchor said, Clintons raspy voice underscoring her nonstop schedule, a comment on her

physical health but not uncalled for. Donald Trumps one mention of his appearance is in

reference to his hair. A CBS newscaster joked, Trumps hair may be his most famous feature.

Another NBC anchor called Clinton an incredibly disciplined and incredibly tranquil and a

formidable presidential candidate. These references to Clintons emotional or physical state

were generally mild and complementary in nature. Many of the references to Trumps emotional

state were negative, one anchor from NBC calling him combative. This result came as a

surprise because we thought there would be more overtly sexist and gendered language used, as

there was in 2008 (Uscinski, & Goren, 2011).


The purpose of this content analysis was to look at sexism in the media through the way

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were addressed by anchors during morning news broadcasts.

In addition to this, we looked at how often their spouses, appearance, and emotional or physical

state were mentioned. These were studied because they are inherently gendered. Through our

data collection, we found that there was not a dramatic difference between the way Trump and

Clinton were addressed or the ways they were talked about, yet Clinton was still referred to by

first name comparatively more times than Trump was called by his first name. Neither candidate

conformed to the typical gender stereotypes as Clinton has historically been thought to display

more masculine qualities and Trumps appearance, particularly his hair, were often talked about,

which is generally a form of criticism reserved for females. While Clinton was referenced by her

first name more than Trump, it was not by a significant amount. This may be an indication that

Clinton was taken more seriously as a female candidate running for office than previous female

presidential candidates or even herself in 2008 (Uscinski & Goren, 2011).

The big difference between the two candidates was the amount of times each candidate

was mentioned on air. Trump was mentioned far more times than Clinton by ABC, CBS, and

NBC. This aligns with the research done by Heldman, Carroll and Olson (2005) in that female

candidates are not mentioned as often as male candidates, but the nature of this election points

more toward Trump making unusual comments than Clinton not being taken seriously as a

candidate. Although the findings did not point toward a strong gendered bias in the media, it did

show that Donald Trump received more coverage than Hillary Clinton, which may have

contributed to his success in winning the 2016 presidential election.

Future research on this would be interesting to see if this trend continues across nightly

news broadcasts or different networks. Research could look at how often Donald Trump is

mentioned on a more conservative channel versus a more liberal channel and if each candidate is

talked about positively or negatively. By looking at these results, we would better be able to

understand the role the media played in the election of Donald Trump. We would be able to

compare the more conservative sources with the liberal ones to see if the coverage is different.


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Appendix A

Name of coder:
Name of morning show:
Broadcast date:

Number of times HRC is referred to:

By first name only (Hillary)

As (former) Secretary of State

By last name only (Clinton)

As Hillary Clinton

Number of times DJT is referred to:

By first name only (Donald)

By the title of businessman or the like

By last name only (Trump)

By full name

Number of times: HRC DJT

Appearance is mentioned in
reference to candidate

A spouse is referenced

The candidates physical or

emotional state is mentioned


Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E

Appendix F

Appendix G

Appendix H