Donald Trump is getting the kind of free media coverage everyone else can only dream of

With enemies like this, who needs friends?
With enemies like this, who needs friends?
Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
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Donald Trump is inescapable.

Since his election last fall, the US president has dominated Twitter, the 24-hour cable-TV news cycle, and almost everything in between. He’s a regular topic of discussion, or parody, on major US TV shows like Saturday Night Light, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. His influence creeps into non-political events like last weekend’s Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, and even reality-TV shows like ABC’s The BachelorAnd he has an outsized influence on Twitter.

In January, a firm that estimates ”earned media,” which refers to media coverage that did not come from paid advertising, found that Trump received more free coverage than any other person in a single month since the company began analyzing media four years ago.

The company, mediaQuant, said the amount of media coverage Trump snagged in January would have been worth an estimated $817 million, if it were paid for as advertising. That was across 20,000 English-language sources from around the world, as well as blogs, forums, and social-media platforms like Twitter, Paul Senatori, the company’s head of analytics told Quartz.

Barack Obama never received that much as president. During his best month, September 2016, he received $687 million in earned media, Senatori said. (The firm is still calculating Obama’s estimates for the full year of 2016.) Obama got around $200-500 million a month worth of coverage for most of the past four years, the New York Times first reported (paywall).

Trump has the second-best individual month on record, too, Senatori said. In November, when he was elected, he reached $744 million in coverage. Trump spent less money on traditional advertising than Hillary Clinton during the presidential election, in part, because he racked up so much media attention. Clinton peaked at $430 million in earned media during her campaign in July, the company said.