Homepage Hopping at the End of Democracy: How Are News Sites Presenting Trump’s Coup Attempt?

Paul Fidalgo
5 min readNov 11, 2020

I have a bad habit. When big, anxiety-producing events are taking place (and they always are now), I hop around to different news sites’ homepages to see how they are characterizing the situation. The current Situation of Great Anxiety is, of course, the coup being attempted by President Trump and the Republican Party following the victory of President-elect Biden in the presidential election. My guts are in a constant, immovable clench as I doomscroll and site-hop for any new development.

Here’s what CNN’s homepage presented its readers this morning:

“Akin to a dictatorship”! That should wake people up, right?

You see, it’s not just news I’m looking for. I’m trying to get a sense of how the major news organizations are presenting the story to their audiences. Republicans are trying to overturn democracy, and I’m hoping that our news outlets are making that clear, right away, without normalizing or both-sidesing.

CNN’s headline, while horrifying, at least told me that a mainstay institution of American news was getting the point across.

But then I remembered that most folks don’t go to news websites directly. Regular people who aren’t obsessed with this stuff don’t constantly refresh the front pages of the Washington Post or the New York Times. If they’re not just getting everything through social media, a lot of them are just opening their browsers and seeing whatever was already set as their default homepage. So how are they covering the coup?

It’s not as reassuring.

Here’s Yahoo News.

It acknowledges the issue, but it’s framed as an ongoing contest, not a power-grab. Trump has a “new weapon” and insists he didn’t lose. Biden isn’t concerned. Yes, well, I am concerned.

Look further down the page, and what do they choose to highlight? Biden’s mask mandate idea and how he can’t actually enforce it. So right away we get “Trump says he didn’t lose” and “Biden can’t make you wear a mask.” Not…

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Paul Fidalgo

Odd duck. Indoor cat. Rogue planet. A motley fool; a miserable world.