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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thanks for the study, but I think we figured this out already

"The media coverage of the race for president has not so much cast Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed John McCain in a substantially negative one, according to a new study of the media since the two national political conventions ended.

"Press treatment of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, but not markedly so.

"But coverage of McCain has been heavily unfavorable—and has become more so over time. In the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, unfavorable stories about McCain outweighed favorable ones by a factor of more than three to one—the most unfavorable of all four candidates—according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism."

I'll add my two cents. Press treatment of Sarah Palin (a vice presidential candidate with more executive experience than Obama) has consisted of questions about: her intelligence, her clothes budget, her physical appearance, her parenting skills, her medical records, the endless parodies and mockeries of the former mayor and current governor, her "Saturday Night Live" ridicule, the hate speech directed at her, her being a supposed "drag" on the McCain campaign, etc. ...

Press treatment of Obama: Displaying him in regal poses and ignoring the time he spent doling out funds to radical causes with an unrepentant domestic terrorist.

And we needed a study to figure out which way the press is leaning?


Anonymous Shari Otteman said...

Thought you'd be interested to hear what the study you sighted had to say about the Sarah Palin coverage:
"As for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, her coverage had an up and down trajectory, moving from quite positive, to very negative, to more mixed. What drove that tone toward a more unfavorable light was probing her public record and her encounters with the press. Little of her trouble came from coverage of her personal traits or family issues. In the end, she also received less than half the coverage of either presidential nominee, though about triple that of her vice presidential counterpart, Joe Biden."

And later:
"Coverage of Palin, in the end, was more negative than positive. In all, 39% of Palin stories carried a negative tone, while 28% were positive, and 33% were neutral. Contrary to what some suggested, little of the coverage was about Palin’s personal life (5%). "

October 27, 2008 at 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the background on reporting about Sarah Palin, Shari. I have to say, it confirmed what I kind of recall as being the events of that fateful late-August frenzy. Everyone loved her and fawned over her for about 2 days--which was easy to do because she IS good on camera and she was a real presence. But unfortunately for McCain's campaign, it seems like some of the vetting process occured after her nomination.

October 27, 2008 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I have to disagree with you David on press treatment of Sarah Palin. I do think she has done herself a huge disservice by choosing not to conduct a single press conference--of course this draws speculation as to whether she is a "drag on the McCain campaign." As for her treatment on SNL, I hope you were saying tongue in cheek that they are a part of the press.

October 27, 2008 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger David Carkhuff said...

The Project for Excellence in Journalism confirms that McCain took it on the chin and Obama received a press pass in this campaign season. Check out the disparity: Fox News gave 40 percent negative coverage to both candidates, while MSNBC went 73 percent negative on McCain and only 14 percent negative on Obama. An earlier study with similar results "found that in the media overall—a sample of 43 outlets studied in the six weeks following the conventions through the last debate—Barack Obama’s coverage was somewhat more positive than negative (36% vs. 29%), while John McCain’s, in contrast, was substantially negative (57% vs. 14% positive)." As George Will would say, "well." (http://www.journalism.org/node/13436)

October 30, 2008 at 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Shari O said...

Going back to the source is always a good idea, and I have to say this study by the Pew folks is very interesting. I would encourage everyone to read the entire thing instead of just my (or someone else's) favorite parts. Nevertheless here's another gem from that study explaining how they concluded that media coverage in both the positive and negative was responsive to public opinion.

"One question likely to be posed is whether these findings provide evidence that the news media are pro-Obama.... The data do not provide conclusive answers. They do offer a strong suggestion that winning in politics begat winning coverage, thanks in part to the relentless tendency of the press to frame its coverage of national elections as running narratives about the relative position of the candidates in the polls.... Obama’s coverage was negative in tone when he was dropping in the polls, and became positive when he began to rise, and it was just so for McCain as well.
"What the findings also reveal is the reinforcing—rather than press-generated—effects of media."

In other words: It's all in your head, man. :-)


November 4, 2008 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger David Carkhuff said...

"The Post did a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they see as a tilt toward Democratic candidate Barack Obama. My surveys show that they are right on both counts." - Deborah Howell, ombudsman for the Washington Post.
I guess it's in her head, too. The press was in the tank for Obama.


November 9, 2008 at 10:15 AM  

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