Donald Trump was the most-mentioned candidate following the GOP debate.

The first Republican presidential debate of the 2024 campaign was held Wednesday night. 

AllSides analyzed top stories from top news outlets across the political spectrum to identify trends and disparities in coverage, including types of media bias. Here’s what we found.

Overall, among 16 total outlets analyzed across the political spectrum, we found that outlets on the left mentioned former Vice President Mike Pence more, while outlets on the right mentioned former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie more.

Outlets on the left also used the word “ban” more – most often referring to some Republican’s calls for a 15-week abortion ban.

Donald Trump, both former president and candidate in the 2024 election, was not present at the debate, he still received a lot of coverage from outlets. In fact, Trump was mentioned the most out of all Republican presidential hopefuls, followed by Vivek Ramaswamy, a former biotechnology executive and entrepreneur.

On the left, the top three GOP candidates mentioned were Trump, Ramaswamy, and Pence. On the right, it was Trump, Ramaswamy, and Christie.

From the news stories analyzed, Pence was mentioned slightly more by outlets on the left and Christie was mentioned slightly more by outlets on the right.

Along with being one of the most mentioned candidates in coverage, Ramaswamy also had the second-most amount of speaking time at the debate – nearly 12 minutes in total – just behind Pence.

DeSantis, the highest-polling candidate on the debate stage (behind only Trump who did not participate in the debate), had the fourth-most amount of speaking time.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson had the least amount of speaking time among debate candidates, at 7 minutes and 33 seconds – more than five minutes less than Pence.

What Outlets on the Left Said

  • CNN (Lean Left bias) described Vivek Ramaswamy as “a defender of Trump… [and] was at times, a stand-in for the former president.” The outlet focused a lot on candidates taking shots at Ramaswamy, from Christie’s comment about Ramaswamy’s answers sounding like a ChatGPT response, Pence’s comments about Ramaswamy’s lack of experience in governance, and Haley’s argument that Ramaswamy has lack of foreign policy experience.
  • HuffPost (Left bias) said that Chris Christie "slammed" Trump, after Christie called to question his support of Trump if the former president were to again receive the Republican nomination. The outlet described Christie’s comments about Trump’s conduct and then used it as an opportunity to describe Trump’s criminal indictments.
  • Mother Jones (Left bias) introduced Ramaswamy as a “self-funding, 38-year-old amateur rapper” and made no mention of the candidate’s endeavors in biotechnology. Describing him as a rapper may be an effort by the Left outlet to downplay his experience.
  • The Daily Beast (Left bias) highlighted Haley’s argument that “Trump is the most disliked politician in America,” and followed-up by saying, “Given the course of the GOP primary so far—with only a few candidates venturing any kind of criticism of the former president—their silence in Milwaukee was notable but unsurprising.”
  • Politico (Lean Left bias) was quick to dig at Ramaswamy, declaring in its very first sentence that “Mike Pence and Chris Christie knocked Vivek Ramaswamy as a know-it-all novice.” The outlet continued, describing that “DeSantis [was] somewhat of an afterthought over the first hour” of the debate.
  • The Atlantic (Left bias) compared Ramaswamy’s dominance at the debate to Trump’s tactics in 2016 – describing in part, “This kind of domination of the stage and disrespect for moderators was innovative when Trump started doing it in the 2016 primary, but other Republicans have learned from him. And it was Ramaswamy, the most MAGA candidate on stage, who blew through the guidelines most. He jumped in on question after question, and reaped applause for it. He grinned broadly as rivals attacked him, and then used the response time that earned him to talk more.” The outlet continued, “Watching how Ramaswamy handles his new turn in the spotlight will be interesting. He’s charismatic, a smooth orator, irreverent, and funny. But it’s easy to imagine his shtick will wear thin. Ramaswamy sounds good, but once you slow down and think about what he said, it often makes little sense or means nothing.”

What Outlets on the Right Said

  • The Washington Times (Lean Right bias) focused heavily on Trump, who “claimed victory hours before the debate kicked off.”

  • The Epoch Times (Lean Right bias) described Fox News (Right bias), which hosted the debate, as a “right-leaning outlet” and described MSNBC (Left bias) as a “left-wing network.” MSNBC was brought up in the debate when Ramaswamy implied Christie was running for a job at MSNBC instead of for U.S. president.

  • The Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) almost exclusively focused on Trump’s indictments in its coverage, running with the headline “Republican debate: Six of the eight candidates raise hands to support Trump if convicted.”

  • Newsmax (Right bias), in its article “Christie Compares Ramaswamy to Obama,” outlined the drama between Christie and Ramaswamy, in which Christie described Ramaswamy as an “amateur.” Christie said, "The last person in one of these debates who stood in the middle of the stage and said what's a skinny guy with an odd last name doing up here was Barack Obama, and I'm afraid we are dealing with the same type of amateur standing on the stage tonight."

  • The Daily Wire (Right bias), like Newsmax, focused on attacks and rebuttals from Ramaswamy in its coverage. Instead, however, the outlet focused on Haley’s accusations of Ramaswamy’s foreign policies, which she described as proposals that would “make America less safe.”

  • Breitbart (Right bias) seemed unappealed by Fox News’ performance in the debate, by saying that “[moderators] asked GOP hopefuls about climate change and abortion rights ahead of likely voters’ top concerns being crime, immigration, and the threat of China.” Breitbart continued, seemingly to suggest that the structure of the debate should have been based off of Republicans’ top issues – and not on issues deemed less important by likely Republican voters.


AllSides pulled the top article on each analyzed outlet’s homepage about the Republican Debate at 11:45pm ET on August 23, 2023, or approximately 45 minutes after the debate’s end. Articles that were live blogs or about a podcast were not included in the analysis.

The outlets analyzed on the left were HuffPost (Left bias), Mother Jones (Left bias), The Atlantic (Left bias), The Daily Beast (Left bias), The New York Times – News (Lean Left bias), CNN (Lean Left bias), Politico (Lean Left bias), and The Guardian (Lean Left bias). The outlets analyzed on the right were The Washington Times (Lean Right bias), The Epoch Times (Lean Right bias), The New York Post (Lean Right bias), The Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias), Breitbart (Right bias), Fox News (Right bias), Newsmax (Right bias), and The Daily Wire (Right bias).

In total, 6897 words were analyzed from outlets on the left and 3254 words were analyzed from outlets on the right. There are simply far more politically-focused, left-rated news sources than there are similar sources on the right, which is a key reason for the disparity in words analyzed. The word clouds and bar charts exclude embedded X posts (formerly Twitter) from the outlets.

Andrew Weinzierl is AllSides Bias Research Manager & Data Journalist. He has a Lean Left bias.
Reviewed by Editor-in-Chief Henry A. Brechter (Center bias) and Research & Content Intern Johnathon Held (Lean Right bias).