News Cycle

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Media Coverage of McCain More Negative Than Coverage of Obama, Study Says

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Media coverage of Sen. John McCain has been heavily unfavorable since the political conventions, a study reports, more than three times as negative as the coverage of Sen. Barack Obama, Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post writes.

Fifty-seven percent of the print and broadcast stories about the Republican nominee were decidedly negative, the Project for Excellence in Journalism says in a report out today, while 14 percent were positive. The McCain campaign has repeatedly complained that the mainstream media are biased toward the senator from Illinois.

Obama’s coverage was more balanced during the six-week period from Sept. 8 through last Thursday, with 36 percent of the stories clearly positive, 35 percent neutral or mixed and 29 percent negative.

McCain has struggled during this period and slipped in the polls, which is one of the reasons for the more negative assessments by the 48 news outlets studied by the Washington-based group. But the imbalance is striking nonetheless.

Sarah Palin’s coverage ricocheted from quite positive to very negative to more mixed, the study says. Overall, 39 percent of the Palin stories were negative, 28 percent were positive and 33 percent neutral. Only 5 percent of the coverage was about her personal life. But McCain’s running mate remains a media magnet, drawing three times as much coverage as the Democrats’ VP nominee, Joe Biden. He was “nearly the invisible man,” the group says, and his coverage was far more negative than Palin’s. That may be because Biden tends to make news primarily when he commits gaffes.

The project says McCain’s coverage started out positive after the GOP convention but nosedived with his frequently changing reaction to the financial crisis. McCain’s character attacks against Obama hurt the Democrat but yielded even more negative coverage for the senator from Arizona.

Obama’s coverage since the conventions represents a fall to earth from the early primaries of 2008, when the project found that, horse-race stories aside, positive narratives about Obama were twice as frequent as negative ones, 69 percent to 31 percent.

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Written by newscycle

October 23, 2008 at 8:41 pm

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