High-quality journalism in the face of Donald Trump’s theory of electoral fraudthe information strategy of the media in the 2020 US presidential election

  1. Concha Pérez-Curiel 1
  2. Ricardo Domínguez-García 1
  3. Ana-María Velasco-Molpeceres 2
  1. 1 Universidad de Sevilla

    Universidad de Sevilla

    Sevilla, España

    ROR https://ror.org/03yxnpp24

  2. 2 Universidad de Valladolid

    Universidad de Valladolid

    Valladolid, España

    ROR https://ror.org/01fvbaw18

El profesional de la información

ISSN: 1386-6710 1699-2407

Year of publication: 2021

Issue Title: Democracia / Democracy

Volume: 30

Issue: 6

Type: Article

DOI: 10.3145/EPI.2021.NOV.19 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openIdus editor

More publications in: El profesional de la información

Sustainable development goals


The institutional political crisis is posited to be a great risk facing twenty-first-century societies. The instability of democracy, the increase in misinformation in electoral processes, and distrust by citizens are facts that are confirmed by studies such as The Economist Intelligence Unit (2018) or Freedom in the World (2018). In the context of the most recent US elections (3-Nov-2020), President Donald Trump initiated a dialog focused on an allegation of electoral fraud that mobilized the masses and culminated in an assault on the Capitol. In parallel, Twitter endorses the role of journalism (@ABC, @AP, @CBSNews, @CNN, @FoxNews, @NBCNews, and @Reuters) as a gatekeeper to lies on the Internet. The aim of this study is to determined how the media treated the electoral process on their Twitter accounts, analyze the strategies they followed to combat Trump’s fallacy, and verify the extent to which they contributed or not to the spread of the conspiracy theory. Using a general sample of tweets (n1 = 3,577), we applied a comparative content analysis methodology with a three-pronged approach (quantitative-qualitative-discursive) based on the use of keyword indicators (n2 = 34,430). The results confirm that the media offered verified content on the electoral process, using different sources and avoiding reproduction of Donald Trump’s delegitimization speech. In general, they engaged in a fight against the theory of electoral fraud, against disinformation, and against the polarization of citizens, which are factors that have marked a scenario of doubt about the future of democracy.

Funding information

Communication & Social Sciences research group (SEJ-619) of the University of Seville.


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