On Television News Obama Got Almost As Much 'Scandal' Coverage As Trump

As television news refers to Donald Trump's Ukraine call as another "scandal" it is worth looking back at how often Trump's actions have been referred to as "scandals" compared with Obama's. The results are surprising.

The timeline below compares the percentage of combined airtime by month on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News mentioning " obama AND (scandal OR scandals OR scandalous) " versus " trump AND (scandal OR scandals OR scandalous) ".

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While Obama's first term was relatively free of mentions of scandals until towards its end, media coverage of Obama's second term referred to scandals almost as often as it has Trump's first term. In fact, over Obama's two terms, a combined 1.8% of airtime mentioned him in the context of scandal, while 1.96% of Trump's airtime to date has mentioned him in the context of scandal.

For Obama, the June through September 2011 surge in "scandal" mentions relate to Operation Fast & Furious. The April 2012 surge appears largely to do with Secret Service actions during one of his overseas trips. The biggest scandal peak of his presidency, more than double that of Trump, occurred in June 2013 with the Snowden NSA disclosures. May 2014's surge, higher than all but a single month of Trump's presidency, revolved around the VA hospital story.

Interestingly, at the peak of Obama scandal mentions in June 2013, the Erin Burnett show on CNN featured commentators offering that "we are a very polarized country" and that the other side "have done very well at making issues seem much bigger and more conspiratorial than they are." Such language could have been ripped from today's headlines half a decade later, showing that today's partisan divide has been with us for longer than we might remember.