Trump's face in front of newspapers
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Major print outlets fail to adequately cover extreme agenda laid out by Trump in Time interview

The Wall Street Journal barely mentioned Trump’s anti-democratic proposals and his abortion policy in the week following Trump’s interview with Time magazine

On April 30, Time magazine published an in-depth interview with former President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago residence, during which the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee described various far-right policies he intends to enact should he win reelection. Even though Trump discussed his plans for a potential second term in some detail, print media have not adequately covered his agenda in the days since the interview.

Media Matters reviewed articles about Trump from three of the top U.S. newspapers by circulation — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post — for whether they included mention of Trump's plans to undermine or subvert democracy and democratic institutions, his proposed immigration policies, or his position on reproductive rights. (We excluded articles covering only the court proceedings in Trump’s ongoing New York hush-money trial.)

The New York Times and The Washington Post did focus on potential attacks on democratic institutions but failed to adequately address Trump’s extreme positions on reproductive rights and immigration. Meanwhile, the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal failed to meaningfully address any of these topics in its coverage of Trump outside of its reporting on his hush-money trial.

Our findings showed:

  • The Wall Street Journal made just 1 mention of Trump’s anti-democratic agenda and 1 mention of his abortion policy.
  • All three newspapers largely failed to cover Trump’s plan to deport 11 million immigrants, among other extreme immigration policies, mentioning it in only 10% of all the articles Media Matters examined.
  • The Wall Street Journal published significantly fewer articles on Trump than The New York Times and The Washington Post (19 for the Journal compared to 29 and 35 for the Times and the Post, respectively). Additionally, a smaller percentage of The Wall Street Journal’s articles discussed Trump’s agenda (21% for the Journal compared to 41% and 43%, respectively, for the Times and the Post).
  • In his interview with Time magazine, Donald Trump revealed a far-right agenda for a potential second term

    • Trump put forth a variety of proposals that would undermine democratic institutions. Trump told Time’s Eric Cortellessa that the chance of political violence “always depends on the fairness of an election.” He then suggested that he would staff his administration with people who deny the results of the 2020 election and said he would use the National Guard to counteract potential protests. [Time magazine, 4/30/24; 4/30/24]
    • On reproductive rights, Trump showed what his radical state-by-state approach to abortion could mean. Trump suggested his administration would permit states to monitor women’s pregnancies and prosecute those who violate abortion bans. [Time magazine, 4/30/24, 4/30/24]
    • Trump also fearmongered about immigrants and the border to justify massive deportation plans and use of the military to enforce immigration law. Trump told Time that he plans to deport 11 million immigrants and grant police new protections to enforce deportations. He also plans to resurrect policies from his previous administration, including building a wall on the southern border and reinstating the “Remain in Mexico” program. [Time magazine, 4/30/24, 4/30/24]
  • While they each included at least some coverage of Trump’s anti-democratic agenda, the three major newspapers undercovered Trump’s immigration and abortion plans

    • The New York Times and The Washington Post led coverage of Trump’s policies while The Wall Street Journal barely covered Trump’s extreme agenda. The Wall Street Journal provided the least coverage of Trump’s anti-democratic agenda and policy plans for immigration and reproductive rights, mentioning them in just 21% of its articles about Trump, while The New York Times and The Washington Post mentioned those proposals in 41% and 43% of such articles, respectively.
  • 3 of the top U.S. newspapers' coverage of Trump policies as outlined in his Time magazine interview
    • Trump’s proposals to attack democratic institutions were the most-discussed aspect of his 2024 agenda in the Times' and the Post's coverage. Trump’s plans to undermine democratic institutions were mentioned in 28% of stories about him from the Times’ and 43% of such articles in the Post, for a combined total of 23 articles from May 1 through May 13. The Wall Street Journal, by comparison, made only 1 mention of Trump’s intentions to undermine democracy, and that came from a passage quoting President Joe Biden. 
    • All three papers had similarly low coverage of Trump's proposed immigration policy, with a combined total of 8 articles between them. Of the 8 articles, 4 specifically mentioned Trump’s Time interview. In total, articles about Trump’s extreme immigration policy made up just 10% of the total Trump coverage.
    • Trump’s reproductive rights agenda was mentioned in just 11% of the articles Media Matters analyzed. The Journal mentioned Trump’s policy on reproductive rights in only 1 article, compared to 4 from The New York Times and 4 from The Washington Post. As a percentage of total articles, mentions of Trump’s reproductive rights agenda were low in all three publications, representing just 5% of articles from The Wall Street Journal, 14% from The New York Times, and 11% from The Washington Post.
  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched print articles in the Factiva database from three of the top U.S. newspapers by circulation — The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post — for the term “Trump” in the headline or lead paragraphs from May 1, 2024, the day after Time magazine published its cover story on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, through May 13, 2024.

    We included articles, which we defined as instances when Trump was mentioned in the headline or lead paragraphs in the A section of the paper. We also included editorials and op-eds, but not letters to the editor. We did not include articles covering only the court proceedings in Trump’s ongoing hush-money trial.

    We then reviewed the identified articles for whether they also mentioned Trump's planned attacks on democracy or undermining of democratic institutions, his proposed immigration policies, or his position on reproductive rights.

    For Trump's attacks on democracy, we considered any of the following proposed policies: withholding funds already allocated by Congress at his discretion; firing U.S. attorneys who refuse his orders to prosecute; pardoning those who participated in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021; gutting the U.S. civil service of nonpartisan career bureaucrats; deploying the National Guard to U.S. cities at his discretion; staffing his administration with sycophants; using the office of the presidency to seek retribution against his perceived enemies; embracing dictatorial powers once in office; justifying political violence from the right; and embracing unitary executive theory.

    For Trump's proposed immigration policies, we considered any of the following proposals: deporting 11 million people from the U.S.; creating migrant detention camps; deploying the U.S. military to enforce immigration laws; reinstating discontinued policies from his previous term; resuming construction of the southern border wall; and denying funding to local law enforcement agencies that don't adopt his immigration policies.

    For Trump's position on reproductive rights, we considered the possibility of signing additional restrictions at the federal level or allowing states to set their own reproductive rights and restrictions; to monitor women's pregnancies; or to prosecute those who violate restrictive state abortion laws.