Author Information

Matt McGuirk


For months, coverage of the global COVID-19 pandemic has dominated network and cable news, with outlets varying in the nature of the coverage. Some have regularly stressed the seriousness of the virus as well as the efforts we can take to minimize the spread. Other outlets have repeatedly downplayed the situation and have actively discredited the guidelines we have in place. In October of 2020, U.S. president Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, and the subsequent flurry of news stories carried the nation into the intersection of this public health crisis and the tense political division in the lead up to the 2020 election. To examine the use of framing in the coverage of this news event, this study analyzed the ways that CNN and Fox News, two of the biggest news networks in the country, approached the story. Using Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN and Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox, this study identified three distinct substories in the coverage then compared the results. The findings show that the differences in framing between these networks has added to the divide in the U.S. regarding the severity of COVID-19.

Note on the Author

Matt McGuirk is a senior at BSU who majors in Communication Studies with a concentration in Film, Video, and Media Studies. Matt conducted this study for his senior seminar under the mentorship of Dr. Jessica Birthisel (Communication Studies). After finishing his bachelor’s degree this spring, Matt will stay at Bridgewater State to pursue a Master’s in English.

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