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Working paper

A Friend Who Was Supposed to Lose: How Donald Trump Was Portrayed in the Russian Media?

Donald Trump and his team have often been accused of having close ties to Russia and Russians expressed much greater support for Trump than residents of other countries. This article provides the first systematic analysis of Russian media coverage of Trump's activities during and after the election campaign. It concludes, on the basis of a sentiment analysis of relevant articles and network agendas of 500 Russian magazines and 250 leading federal newspapers, that Trump's media portrayal was not necessarily positive. During the election, Trump was portrayed by the Russian media not as Russia's favorite candidate, but as Hillary Clinton's opponent and a critic of U.S. recent policies. Only for a short period after Trump's victory in the elections, did the Russian media represent him as a friend of Russia, since there was hope that the new president would lift political and economic sanctions. Trump's policies failed to meet the expectations of the Russian people, and from the beginning of 2017, media coverage of Trump has become critical, hopes for lifting of political sanctions have weakened, and public opinion about the U.S. president has turned negative.