Home – Media Analysis in the Moment: RNC Takes Center Stage

Media Analysis in the Moment: RNC Takes Center Stage

Posted on 07-18-2016 by Megan Burnside

Even as political prognosticators debate the merits of vice presidents and polling, 15,000 credentialed members of the media are in Cleveland for this week’s Republican National Convention. After months of tracking the progress—or lack of it—among presidential hopefuls, delegates from across the country have converged on the Rock and Roll Capital of the World, along with a host of other Republican stalwarts, to adopt the party platform and officially nominate the Party’s candidate for the country’s top job. And we’re there too, serving as the official research provider during the GOP convention.


How News Research and Media Monitoring Help Tell Stories

We’ve been analyzing media coverage of the race to the White House quite a bit—both on this blog and on our U.S. Presidential Election Campaign Tracker—to gain insights into the candidates and the issues. During the RNC, we’ll be doing more of the same by offering journalists research assistance and access to the largest and most comprehensive news and public records database in the world. Tom Ogburn, Managing Director of Business Insight Solutions at LexisNexis, notes, “In today’s fast-paced, 24/7 news cycle, transparency and credibility are more critical than ever. We want to make it easy for the media to quickly and thoroughly vet and confirm the talking points that will be so important to this historical election.”

Leading up to the convention, we’ve been monitoring a few topics of interest already, so here is an analysis of the recent Mike Pence and Donald Trump 60 Minutes interview.

Mike Pence’s rollout as Donald Trump’s Vice Presidential pick has not gone according to plan.  Saturday’s formal announcement that Pence was joining the ticket was beset by negative media attention that criticized the speech’s poor lighting, Trump’s rambling remarks, and the bad optics of not featuring Trump-Pence banners. The campaign likely was hoping that the duo’s 60 Minutes interview would counter this negativity. However, LexisNexis’s analysis suggests that the high-profile interview was not successful in this regard, with much of the coverage in reaction to the piece being off the campaign’s message.  

Using LexisNexis Newsdesk®, Chris Scully, one of our Senior Media Intelligence Analysts, examined a snapshot of top-tier media coverage on the high-profile interview to see what themes were most prevalent and found two main themes emerge: Trump and Pence had a major policy difference on the Iraq War and Trump maintained a dominate position throughout the interview. More than half of all stories analyzed discussed Mike Pence’s vote in support of the Iraq War, contrasting his voting record with Trump’s assertion that he had opposed the Iraq War in the lead-up to the conflict. Most stories on this policy disagreement also noted that Trump has been highly critical of Hillary Clinton’s support of the war and that in the 60 Minutes interview Trump said that Pence is “entitled to make a mistake every once in a while” while Hillary Clinton “is not.”

Analysis and opinion pieces comprised less than a quarter of pieces examined, with news reports accounting for the remainder of coverage analyzed.  These opinion stories tended to focus on the interpersonal dynamics of the interview. A number highlighted how Trump repeatedly answered questions directed toward Pence or dominated the interview. Others labeled the interview awkward or uncomfortable.  While most instances of these negative characterizations were in left-leaning outlets like Slate and Gawker, the conservative media joined in as well, with National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote “despite all [Pence’s] efforts to ingratiate himself, Trump interrupted him and established his dominance in every possible way”.

With the convention kicking off in earnest this evening, it will be interesting to see if the Trump campaign is able to right its course and generate the type of attention it is seeking.

Adding Historical Context to the Election

Joining LexisNexis just outside Media Row at the convention center will be two respected historians from the non-partisan First Year Project: Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies and co-chair of the Presidential Oral History Program and Nicole Hemmer, assistant professor of presidential studies at the Miller Center, University of Virginia. The First Year Project examines the legacy of each U.S. president’s first year, focusing on key issues for the incoming president, “… viewed through the clarifying lens of history and amplified with actionable advice from leading scholars, former administration officials and policy experts,” says Perry. During the convention, the historians will be available to provide background, context, historical analysis and quotes for journalists.

 Our support of media professionals will continue July 25-28 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where research specialists will be available to provide support to attending media.

 For more information and live updates from the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention, follow LexisNexis on Twitter® at @LexisNexisBiz. And don’t forget to check out the U.S. Presidential Election Tracker to see analysis of the people, places and topics that are trending in the media—from now until November!

 3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Check out some of the other topics we’re monitoring on the blog— from presidential candidates to retail holidays.
  2. Request a free trial of LexisNexis Newsdesk to see what can be discovered with media monitoring and analysis
  3. Share this blog on LinkedIn to keep the dialogue going with your colleagues and contacts.

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