Study shows media treats McCain negatively, Obama and Clinton kindly

posted at 10:30 am on May 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Hillary Clinton has accused the media of being in the tank for Barack Obama, but according to a new study by Pew Research, she received a fairly positive reception during the primaries, at least through Texas and Ohio. Both campaigns received much better treatment than John McCain got as he clinched the nomination. The study shows that the two Democrats got positive treatment in the American media over two-thirds of the time, while the majority of McCain’s coverage was negative:

If campaigns for president are in part a battle for control of the master narrative about character, Democrat Barack Obama has not enjoyed a better ride in the press than rival Hillary Clinton, according to a new study of primary coverage by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.

From January 1, just before the Iowa caucuses, through March 9, following the Texas and Ohio contests, the height of the primary season, the dominant personal narratives in the media about Obama and Clinton were almost identical in tone, and were both twice as positive as negative, according to the study, which examined the coverage of the candidates’ character, history, leadership and appeal—apart from the electoral results and the tactics of their campaigns. …

On the Republican side, John McCain, the candidate who quickly clinched his party’s nomination, has had a harder time controlling his message in the press. Fully 57% of the narratives studied about him were critical in nature, though a look back through 2007 reveals the storyline about the Republican nominee has steadily improved with time.

Glenn Greenwald crowed yesterday that Scott McClellan’s book somehow disproved the existence of liberal-media bias. He spoke a day too soon. In this case, the media doesn’t have the fig leaf of claiming that the bias comes from the natural role of the media to challenge the government. All three candidates are members of the same body, the Senate, which now runs under Democratic control, not Republican. That excuse for prior studies by Pew showing the same negative bias about Republicans can now be discarded entirely.

Interestingly, the media’s negative coverage emphasized his rocky relationship with conservatives. Fully half of all coverage about McCain focused on this point — not about policy. Only 9% of coverage focused on rebuttals to that argument. The next highest percentage of stories was on his character and conviction (19%) and then his appeal to moderates and independents (14%).

In contrast, Obama’s coverage centered on “hope and change” and “charisma”, both accounting for 47% of the media narrative during this period. Only 3% of the coverage reported on “narrow appeal”, but a whopping 16% focused on the rebuttal of that criticism. The chief theme of critical coverage looked at his youth and inexperience, but that only accounted for 12% of the media’s attention. Likewise, Hillary Clinton had a strange imbalance in refutation to criticism on the point of her personal negatives, with only 8% of media stories reporting on it while 14% of media coverage attempted to refute it. Thirty-eight percent of her coverage positively focused on her main theme of Day 1 ability to lead the countrym while only 4% of coverage took a critical look at that claim.

Translation: the liberal media bias is alive and well, and both Hillary and Obama benefit from it.


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This has to be a joke. Our media is not biased at all. What’s next; a study showing fire is hot?

carbon_footprint on May 29, 2008 at 10:36 AM

I’m shocked! Shocked beyond belief!

NOT!!!

kcd on May 29, 2008 at 10:36 AM

I am sick of saying and seeing dog bites man. So instead I’ll say a bear shits in the woods.

NotCoach on May 29, 2008 at 10:38 AM

Another (yawn) shocker about liberal media bias. In the meanwhile, this is who Hillary is hanging around with. I wonder if that is making all this political noise into something of a … distraction. Dang…I mean dang!

Jaibones on May 29, 2008 at 10:39 AM

Duh.

AZCoyote on May 29, 2008 at 10:39 AM

And in other news, the sun came up in the east today. Again.

Jaibones on May 29, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Second look at blatantly obvious!

Darksean on May 29, 2008 at 10:41 AM

The relevant reactionary quote for this article comes from private first class Gomer Pyle, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!”

Mich_93 on May 29, 2008 at 10:41 AM

Of course they do . . . the majority of the mainstream media are left wing propaganda machines and the only offsets come from conservative talk radio and blogs. The left has effectively captured the public’s electronic spectrum and it’s very difficult to counter their propaganda blitz.

rplat on May 29, 2008 at 10:43 AM

You know what libs will say “There are more positive stories about our candudates becasue they are doing more positive things.” Case closed…

max1 on May 29, 2008 at 10:44 AM

Mark me down as being shocked at such a report.

sdd on May 29, 2008 at 10:45 AM

Study shows media treats McCain negatively,

… and that’s just in the mainstream media.

wise_man on May 29, 2008 at 10:47 AM

freevillage on May 29, 2008 at 10:44 AM

There’s no requirement that they be fair. And we’re under no obligation to fail to notice when they aren’t.

McCain still has to make his case.

DrSteve on May 29, 2008 at 10:52 AM

Look, the media only reports on McCain in a negative manner because they don’t like him – or us.

OldEnglish on May 29, 2008 at 10:56 AM

Not sure it’s liberal bias–after all, 2 liberals and 1 quasi-liberal are running. But it’s bias for Obama for sure.

JiangxiDad on May 29, 2008 at 10:58 AM

Liberal media bias?? Wow! Just WOW!! WHO KNEW??

pullingmyhairout on May 29, 2008 at 11:02 AM

There’s bias in both directions. On the whole the bias seems to be pro-government and anti- the party in power. So the takeaway is that government is the solution — but not the crooks currently in office. Rinse and repeat as parties change.

Mark Jaquith on May 29, 2008 at 11:03 AM

This is why our candidates are so much better informed, and better leaders. They have to fight to win the election, and steel sharpens steel.
In essence, the democrats are the welfare babies of the media. Even when they win, they have no respect.

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Not sure it’s liberal bias–after all, 2 liberals and 1 quasi-liberal are running. But it’s bias for Obama for sure.
JiangxiDad on May 29, 2008 at 10:58 AM

You’d think that the other liberals wouldn’t mind if the ’1 quasi-liberal’ had a chance of winning, but they are attacking him full force.

Bush-McCain Challenge was hard for some

Odd. I mean, it’s so strange for fellow liberals to be attacking the ’1 quasi-liberal’ so much. I mean, after all — they are all so much the same. Must be a reason that they are attacking the ’1 quasi-liberal’ like they are. I wonder if the liberals would agree with your ’1 quasi-liberal’ definition.

wise_man on May 29, 2008 at 11:07 AM

Let’s see:

McCain is Old (Media doesn’t mention his MOM is alive)
Cindy is rich (As opposed to wealthy Teresa Kerry)

Have we read more about Obama’s UNhealthy SMOKING ADDICTION? What if he gets cancer in office? Will Hillary supply him with unfiltered cigs?

Media would probably portray this: Obama helps add to the nations wealth, by smoking, knowing that cigarettes are heavily taxed, he’s contributing more than non-smokers.

WHICH, brings up the question: DID OBAMA SMOKE when he was in California? INSIDE? Heck, outside smoking is illegal here in some cities…

originalpechanga on May 29, 2008 at 11:09 AM

I like how this study ends it’s research two to three days before the Reverend Wright “Scandal” started. Odd choice when they decided to stop following the narratives, eh?

Typhonsentra on May 29, 2008 at 11:10 AM

There’s bias in both directions.

Mark Jaquith on May 29, 2008 at 11:03 AM

Nah.

JiangxiDad on May 29, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Interestingly, the media’s negative coverage emphasized his rocky relationship with conservatives. Fully half of all coverage about McCain focused on this point — not about policy. Only 9% of coverage focused on rebuttals to that argument. The next highest percentage of stories was on his character and conviction (19%) and then his appeal to moderates and independents (14%).

Maybe this is because these are the things he talks about and wants to be known for: his conflicts with his own party, his own precious character, and his desire to appeal to the center-left.

He has alot of work to do; he’s gotten an easy pass in the MSM for a long time. It doesn’t help him that significant chunks of his own party, including a good many media members, don’t like him either.

BigD on May 29, 2008 at 11:11 AM

And there’s that ol’ ABC (I think?) study last year that showed that ~80% of all contributions given by journalists to political parties went to Democrats.

Didn’t see that one coming…

Hoodlumman on May 29, 2008 at 11:15 AM

Bias? What Bias?

“It will be known as the latest example of disloyalty at the top, an attempt to cash in on trickle-down celebrity with an instant book”………Margaret Carlson commenting on the book released by George Stephanopoulos’s “All Too Human: A Political Education” about Bill Clinton. Link

Rovin on May 29, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Study shows media treats McCain negatively, Obama and Clinton kindly

posted at 10:30 am on May 29, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

.

I can’t believe it!!

I must’ve slept on the wrong side of the cow.

The media is nice to Hussein and Hillary??

Jesus-Christ! I must be dreaming!

You mean Chris Matthews is now having live orgasms on his show when playing clips of Hussein?!?!

And I thought that white thing on my screen was dust!!

Lord have mercy!

Indy Conservative on May 29, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Duh.

AZCoyote on May 29, 2008 at 10:39 AM

+1

kirkill on May 29, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Freedom of the Press…
Freedom to pick the President for you.
Freedom to choose the wars you’ll fight in.
Freedom to decide the issues for you.
Freedom to manipulate you.

Freedom… is a responsibility.

BDU-33 on May 29, 2008 at 11:26 AM

Mark Jaquith on May 29, 2008 at 11:03 AM

Nope, you’re delusional. Look back at Bill Clinton, who could do no wrong in the eyes of the MSM, but did plenty wrong in reality. He still gets favorable treatment, but if he had been a Republican that did what he did, he’d be a pariah forever.

kirkill on May 29, 2008 at 11:27 AM

Look, the media only reports on McCain in a negative manner because they don’t like him – or us.

OldEnglish on May 29, 2008 at 10:56 AM

What happened to all the folks who, for a while, were saying McCain was this “media darling” and in bed with the MSM?

Well, knew it would happen…that the media would turn on McCain. It’s that “R” thing. But alas, it’s nothing new. And yet, even with all the media bias, Republicans still find a way to get elected.

JetBoy on May 29, 2008 at 11:44 AM

That tears it! I am selling my rabbit ears.

saved on May 29, 2008 at 11:48 AM

JetBoy on May 29, 2008 at 11:44 AM

True. Back when McCain did appear to be the darling of the press I stated that it was reverse psychology – they didn’t want us to vote for him in reality. Now that we have (sort of), their true feeling comes out.

OldEnglish on May 29, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Duh.
AZCoyote on May 29, 2008 at 10:39 AM

+1
kirkill on May 29, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Duh3

maverick muse on May 29, 2008 at 11:56 AM

WHAT A SHOCKER!!!! After you LEMMINGS let MSM pick YOUR nominee, now you are SHOCKED that they have TURNED on your candidate. Did you never think it was STRANGE that the NYT was publishing POSITIVE stories about OL’ JUAN. Yoe people CRACK me up!!! You will probably vote for OL’ JUAN too.

pueblo1032 on May 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM

I wonder if Pew Research could also come to the conclusion that I take a huge dump after drinking coffee in the morning.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on May 29, 2008 at 12:02 PM

Back when McCain did appear to be the darling of the press I stated that it was reverse psychology – they didn’t want us to vote for him in reality. Now that we have (sort of), their true feeling comes out.

OldEnglish on May 29, 2008 at 11:54

I’m not too sure if I agree with the “reverse phych” thing…but who knows. I wouldn’t put it past the MSM.

WHAT A SHOCKER!!!! After you LEMMINGS let MSM pick YOUR nominee, now you are SHOCKED that they have TURNED on your candidate. Did you never think it was STRANGE that the NYT was publishing POSITIVE stories about OL’ JUAN. Yoe people CRACK me up!!! You will probably vote for OL’ JUAN too.

pueblo1032 on May 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM

Yes, I’m voting for McCain. No, I’m not at all shocked that the MSM turned on him. And what I found strange about the NYT is that they endorsed McCain one minute, and the next, were writing unsourced, unsubstantiated hit pieces on him purely for partisan reasons.

All in all, I refuse to sit back and let Obama slide into the White House without a fight. Nonetheless, I actually DO like McCain, and will vote for him in November proudly.

JetBoy on May 29, 2008 at 12:17 PM

wise_man on May 29, 2008 at 11:07 AM

He’s not a quasi-liberal, he’s a liberal. Think Lieberman: conservative on one issue, liberal on all the rest.

It doesn’t get much more liberal than whining about “obscene profits.”

misterpeasea on May 29, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Odd. I mean, it’s so strange for fellow liberals to be attacking the ‘1 quasi-liberal’ so much. I mean, after all — they are all so much the same. Must be a reason that they are attacking the ‘1 quasi-liberal’ like they are. I wonder if the liberals would agree with your ‘1 quasi-liberal’ definition.

wise_man on May 29, 2008 at 11:07 AM

He’s still a Republican.

Esthier on May 29, 2008 at 12:24 PM

Hmm, Conservatives up in arms about Presidential nominee. MSM reports that conservatives up in arms about said nominee. Conservatives now up in arms about media “bias.”

Grow Fins on May 29, 2008 at 12:25 PM

And I thought that white thing on my screen was dust!!

Indy Conservative on May 29, 2008 at 11:19 AM

…when in fact is was eggs…

Entelechy on May 29, 2008 at 12:26 PM

I wonder if Pew Research could also come to the conclusion that I take a huge dump after drinking coffee in the morning.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on May 29, 2008 at 12:02 PM

That’s a little more than I needed, but point well taken.

Esthier on May 29, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Back when McCain did appear to be the darling of the press I stated that it was reverse psychology – they didn’t want us to vote for him in reality. Now that we have (sort of), their true feeling comes out.
OldEnglish on May 29, 2008 at 11:54 AM

I think you’re onto something. When McCain was the “Maverick” it was because he was a centrist agitator who, when it suited his purposes, would burn his party and side with Democrats. But now, McCain is the party’s standardbearer.

The media was never in love with McCain; they were just in love with bashing Republicans. When McCain was doing the bashing, they liked it. But now McCain is the Republican, and he needs to be bashed.

Outlander on May 29, 2008 at 12:27 PM

Hmm, Conservatives up in arms about Presidential nominee. MSM reports that conservatives up in arms about said nominee. Conservatives now up in arms about media “bias.”

Grow Fins on May 29, 2008 at 12:25 PM

He won the primary. It’s very obvious that the vast majority of conservatives are not up in arms over the nominee.

Esthier on May 29, 2008 at 12:30 PM

The media was never in love with McCain; they were just in love with bashing Republicans. When McCain was doing the bashing, they liked it. But now McCain is the Republican, and he needs to be bashed.

Outlander on May 29, 2008 at 12:27 PM

The media may never have been legitimately in love with McCain, but McCain was in love with the media. That hasn’t changed. If his psychology is such that he seeks approval on topics he knows nothing about, it opens up a way to reach this otherwise unreachable guy.

He seems to hate being attacked by anyone, but is not immune to flattery. So on issues other than defense and earmarks, he’s willing to be flattered into a position. So far, though understandable, conservatives haven’t tried that with him.

JiangxiDad on May 29, 2008 at 12:36 PM

It’s very obvious that the vast majority of conservatives Republicans are not up in arms over the nominee.

There. Fixed it for you.

Grow Fins on May 29, 2008 at 12:37 PM

Will someone kindly explain to me how the media focus on conservative disquiet over McCain when in actual fact conservatives really are expressing disquiet over McCain and have been for months is “bias.” I really, truly don’t see it.

Grow Fins on May 29, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Will someone kindly explain to me how the media focus on conservative disquiet over McCain when in actual fact conservatives really are expressing disquiet over McCain and have been for months is “bias.” I really, truly don’t see it.

Aaarg. let me try that again.

Will someone kindly explain to me how the media focus on conservative disquiet over McCain is “bias” when in actual fact conservatives really are expressing disquiet over McCain and have been for months. I really, truly don’t see it.

Grow Fins on May 29, 2008 at 12:41 PM

There. Fixed it for you.

Grow Fins on May 29, 2008 at 12:37 PM

That’s true.

Will someone kindly explain to me how the media focus on conservative disquiet over McCain when in actual fact conservatives really are expressing disquiet over McCain and have been for months is “bias.” I really, truly don’t see it.

Grow Fins on May 29, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Because there’s obviously another side to it. There’s obviously a portion within the party who like McCain and by not reporting that, they are being biased.

Plus, it’s the timing. They didn’t report it before he won.

Esthier on May 29, 2008 at 12:43 PM

Hey, MexicCain, how do you like your media buddies now?

HYTEAndy on May 29, 2008 at 12:47 PM

They didn’t report it before he won.

Oh please. McCain clinched the nomination in early March. You’re seriously asking me to believe “they” didn’t report McCain’s rift with conservatives before then? It was being reported back in 2000.

Grow Fins on May 29, 2008 at 1:06 PM

Again with YOU PEOPLE… “MAVERICK”. Remember when that was first coined for OL’ JUAN??? AS a resident of AZ, I do… After the 2000 primaries, when GWB kicked his ASS… He took every chance he got to go AGAINST Bush. “MAVERICK”??? how about JEALOUS or VINDICTIVE??? That is what he is, that is what he should be called…

pueblo1032 on May 29, 2008 at 1:13 PM

pueblo1032 on May 29, 2008 at 11:57 AM
pueblo1032 on May 29, 2008 at 1:13 PM

Didn’t get a response from your first foolish post, so you tried again?
There you got one, now go back to sleep.

right2bright on May 29, 2008 at 1:23 PM

Compare McCain’s negatives to the huge media negatives and bias against Al Gore in the 2000 election. In that light, the media doesn’t look so evil to the right. In 2000, the media made Bush look like a great guy who was fully qualified to become President.

bayam on May 29, 2008 at 3:01 PM

I don’t need a study to tell me that the media are liberal.

Chakra Hammer on May 29, 2008 at 3:44 PM

We can file this under the no duh file.

SoulGlo on May 29, 2008 at 3:57 PM

What about this, isn’t this definite proof of the right’s victimhood? The media has always been biased against Bush, right:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080529/ap_en_tv/tv_war_coverage

bayam on May 29, 2008 at 8:34 PM