PR cycles

Part
01
of two
Part
01

PR Cycles: Examples

Examples of scandalous stories prior to the 2016 elections in the US include Hillary Clinton's email scandal, the Benghazi scandal, Donald Trump's leaked sexually offensive tapes towards women as well as the Chris Christie's closure of the New Jersey bridge.

Examples of scandalous stories and the time it took them to go away prior to the 2016 elections in the US

1. The technology behind Hillary Clinton’s email scandal

  • The Hillary Clinton email scandal drew controversy when she used her private email server for official communications rather than using official State Department email accounts that is usually maintained on secure federal servers.
  • When the FBI examined the server she had, they found multiple emails containing classified information.
  • The very first news story of the scandal broke out on March 2nd, 2015, published by the New York Times, and the very last news article written on the scandal was on November 6th 2016, which was two days prior to the National Elections in November, 8th 2016.
  • From the time the news of the email scandal broke out to the last article there was a period of 20 months.

2. Benghazi scandal: How did we get here?

  • The scandal was about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, resulting in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and another State Department employee.
  • Armed militants also attacked a nearby CIA annex with mortar fire, killing two additional Americans while security personnel fought off the attackers.
  • The main controversy was that it was thought that the violence was a premeditated terror attack or a spontaneous response to an American-made video mocking Islam. Republicans accused the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats that they were misleading the public for political reasons.
  • The news story on the Benghazi scandal first broke out on October 22nd, 2015, first reported by the Washington Post. The last news article to be written on Benghazi prior to the National Elections was published on November 6th, 2016, just two days before the U.S. elections.
  • It took one year and two months for the Benghazi controversy to wrap up.

3. Trump Campaign Reeling After Bombshell Sex Tape Leaked

  • The scandal involved a Donald Trump tape of him speaking about groping women, adultery and other crude, sexually aggressive comments.
  • The scandal broke out on October 7th, 2016 during his presidential run. The last news article written on the leaked sex tape prior to the National Elections was on October 9th, 2016
  • The story was on the news for exactly 2 days.

4. Ted Cruz Sex Scandal Story Just the Latest Bombshell in a Bizarre Campaign

  • The scandal involved Texas Senator Ted Cruz who was a Republican presidential candidate. He was rocked by an alleged sex scandal whereby it was said that he had had a series of extramarital affairs involving five different women.
  • The scandal first broke out on March 25th, 2016. The last news article was written on October 20th 2016 by the Christian Post.
  • It took 7 months for the story to die out.

5. Jeb Bush Listed Himself as ‘Hispanic’ on Voter Form

  • The scandalous story involved the discovery that Jeb Bush had listed himself as Hispanic on a voter-registration application in Miami-Dade County.
  • The scandalous story broke out on April 5th, 2015. The last news article to be written about it was on March 29th, 2016.
  • It took exactly one year for the story to be wrapped up.

6. Chris Christie bridge scandal: a primer

  • The scandal involved Chris Christie. He was accused that he had closed the New Jersey bridge as a political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D) who had declined to endorse him for re-election.
  • The scandal broke out on January 10th, 2014, first reported by CNN Politics while the last news article written prior to the National elections was on November 4th 2016.
  • From the time the scandalous story broke out to the time the last news article was written, 2 years and 10 months had passed.

7. Another Mike Huckabee associate was just hit with a molestation scandal

  • The scandal involved an associate of presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee (R), concerning molestation accusations from the past.
  • The scandal broke out on May 22nd, 2015, with the last news article being published on January 14th 2016.
  • From the first time the scandal broke out to the last time it was mentioned in the news, 7 months had elapsed.



Part
02
of two
Part
02

PR Cycles: Outrage Exhaustion

News coverage about scandalous stories rise and fall depending on who and what the story is about. For example, the 2016 presidential election had an impact on the duration of news coverage on negative stories surrounding Donald Trump, as he is still a very large public figure, but not so much on individuals as Hillary Clinton and Brock Turner, who are no longer in the spotlight. Below is an overview of the findings.

KEY FINDINGS

  • According to a Gallup poll, Americans tended to associate Hillary Clinton's infamous email scandal with her the most during the 2016 presidential election as there was so much news coverage about her emails.
  • One study discovered that the New York Times alone ran as many stories about Hillary Clinton's emails in six days as they did her policy issues combined in the 69 days prior to the election.
  • Within the first 100 days of Donald Trump's presidency, one out of six news stories were negative stories about his presidential tweets, which highlights how much negative coverage about Trump comes and goes after the 2016 election.
  • While media coverage of Hillary Clinton's one scandal around her emails stuck with her during the election, news coverage on Donald Trump's scandals seemed to come and go in media coverage, almost every day.
  • While Brock Turner was originally sentenced to six months in prison for sexually assaulting an unconscious person in 2016, he filed an appeal for his conviction and the subsequent outrage over his short sentence sparked a nationwide discussion on sexual assault.
  • In 2019, the victim in the Brock Turner assault case was reported to be writing a memoir of her experience and her case is said to have helped start the national #MeToo movement in 2017.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We initially looked for how fast scandalous stories were covered within the years of 2014 to 2017 and looked for studies on how the media covered scandalous stories in databases such as Gallup and Pew Researcher. While we could not find anything on the specific length of negative news stories or about the news cycle regarding the coverage of scandalous stories, it did lead us to numerous studies on how many Americans were distrustful of the media and why.

We then began to look at specific infamous news stories that were covered in 2016 and looked for news stories that followed up on these stories in 2017 and 2018 to see if and how they were being covered. We did this to gain an understanding of how fast news coverage seemed to wax and wane and to determine if news coverage on scandalous stories changed after the 2016 election. We did find a Gallup poll and a survey that showed how much Americans, in the months leading up to the election, associated Hillary Clinton with her email scandal and President Trump with a variety of his policy issues, scandals, and outrageous sayings. This was due to the fact that the news covered Clinton's emails so much while there seemed to be a new Trump scandal almost every day. It gave us a sense of the outrage exhaustion when it came to scandalous stories about Trump as they were consistent and changed constantly. As Clinton had only one major scandal, there wasn't as much outrage exhaustion around her, so coverage on her email scandal continued for months. We also found numerous studies that showed Trump's negative news coverage during and after the election and how they changed American perceptions of him. We specifically found a Pew Research report that stated coverage on his tweets tended to be negative during the first 100 days of his presidency. This indicated to us that as Trump is still a large public figure who had numerous scandals in the election, he is going to be covered negatively by the media. Likewise, as Hillary Clinton has faded from the public eye after 2016, scandalous stories about her (and news about her in general) have decreased.

The same can be said for Brock Turner and his infamous 2016 trial and short sentence. We found so many articles covering his conviction and trial in 2016, yet few recent articles on him. One of the few recent news articles we found that related to his case was a 2019 article about the victim who was writing a memoir about her experience of what happened. The article implicated to us that since the trial and the #MeToo movement in 2017 emerged partially as a result of this trial, the media may have been interested in covering the victim's side of the story and how she wants to reach out to other victims of sexual assault. It could mean a change in how scandalous stories about sexual assault will be reported after 2016 as there is the possibility that news coverage about the victim(s) will be more compassionate but only time will tell.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "The Hillary Clinton email scandal has seemingly everything that can bring down a presidential candidacy. There are national security issues at stake, an FBI investigation and the fact that a cabinet official chose to use a private email rather than an authorized government address, something her staff was discouraged from doing."
Quotes
  • "The Times published his story on the night of Monday, March 2"
Quotes
  • "What happened in the Benghazi attacks? The U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya was attacked and burned on September 11, 2012, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and another State Department employee. Armed militants also attacked a nearby CIA annex with mortar fire, killing two additional Americans as security personnel engaged in a pitched battle with the attackers"
  • "What have been the main controversies? The first major point of contention was whether the violence was a premeditated terror attack or a spontaneous response to an American-made video mocking Islam, as some in the Obama administration initially claimed and top officials, such as then-Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, repeated in talking points approved by the White House. Republicans charged that Rice and other figures were misleading the public for political reasons."
Quotes
  • "Two days before what is widely seen as a make-or-break presidential debate, Donald Trump was again forced to defend himself against Republicans and Democrats after a tape emerged of him speaking about groping women, adultery and other crude, sexually aggressive comments."
Quotes
  • "THE REPUBLICAN presidential primary campaign, which has at times devolved into schoolyard taunts and nasty insults, has been rocked by an alleged sex scandal involving Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: The National Enquirer reports the candidate has had a series of extramarital affairs involving five different women."
Quotes
  • "Mr. Bush may have become a bit carried away: He listed himself as Hispanic on a 2009 voter-registration application in Miami-Dade County."
Quotes
  • "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee. Some Democrats have already said that is evidence of political retribution against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (D), who had declined to endorse Christie for re-election."
From Part 02
Quotes
  • "“In just six days, the New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all the policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.”"
Quotes
  • "A recent report from the Center found that about one-in-six news stories about the president or the administration (16%) during the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency included one of his tweets. "
Quotes
  • "While Trump's scandals came and went – one day it was the Trump Foundation, the next Trump University, the next tweeting about nonexistent sex tapes, the next bragging about committing sexual assault and on and on – Clinton received laser-like focus on one, admittedly dumb mistake she made."