Clinton, in contrast, did much better on the big task confronting all new presidents, the budget. While stories assessing his budget still tended to the negative (37%) fully a quarter of them were positive (versus 9% for Bush). The tone became even more positive in stories about whether his budget would pass (32% positive versus 23% negative). Clinton ran into trouble over issues he never intended to have happen—accidents, albeit some self-inflicted.

Top 5 Clinton Stories
(as % of all stories)
Budget assessment 12%
Budget passage 11
Gays in the military  7
Bosnia intervention  7
Attorney general nominations  6
All Other 57
Total 100

These early missteps received significant coverage. His handling of gays in the military, his ongoing quest for an Attorney General and the airdrops in Bosnia ranked just behind the budget in the amount of coverage they received. Together these three made up 20% of all his early stories. What's more, they were decidedly negative in tone. Better than four in ten stories on these topics were critical.

Tone of Top 5 Clinton Stories
  Positive Neutral Negative Satire Total
Budget assessment 25% 37 53 1 100
Budget passage 32% 45 23 0 100
Gays in the military 12% 38 50 0 100
Bosnia intervention 16% 42 42 0 100
Att'y gen. nominations 6% 47 44 3 100