Howard Kurtz gets the scoop on a study from the Center for Media and Public Affairs that analyzes the coverage of Barack Obama’s first 50 days in office. It won’t surprise anyone to discover that they’ve spent more time covering The One than George Bush, but it might surprise people to learn that they’ve managed to exceed coverage of Bush and Bill Clinton … combined:
The networks have given President Obama more coverage than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined in their first months — and more positive assessments to boot.
In a study to be released today, the Center for Media and Public Affairs and Chapman University found the nightly newscasts devoting nearly 28 hours to Obama’s presidency in the first 50 days. (Bush, by contrast, got nearly eight hours.) Fifty-eight percent of the evaluations of Obama were positive on the ABC, CBS and NBC broadcasts, compared with 33 percent positive in the comparable period of Bush’s tenure and 44 percent positive for Clinton. (Evaluations by officials from the administration or either political party were not counted.)
On Fox News, by contrast, only 13 percent of the assessments of Obama were positive on the first half of Bret Baier’s “Special Report,” which most resembles a newscast. The president got far better treatment in the New York Times, where 73 percent of the assessments in front-page pieces were positive.
A striking contrast: Obama’s personal qualities drew more favorable coverage than his policies, with 32 percent of the sound bites positive on CBS, 31 percent positive on NBC and 8 percent positive on Fox.
I’ve looked for the study on CMPA’s website, but in an ironic tautology, so far they’ve only reprinted this excerpt from Howard Kurtz’s column. Maybe the study doesn’t actually exist, and this is just a media-bubble echo! Actually, the study should get released later today, and I’ll update the post when it becomes available.
No one should be shocked that the media has gone out of their way to be nicer to Obama than to Bush, but the contrast with Clinton is rather striking. Clinton’s transition had its share of nanny problems in the beginning, but it had none of the tax-evasion problems that have plagued the new administration. Clinton also had received glowing press during the campaign and was heralded as a harbinger of change, as the Baby Boomers finally had their first President. And even Clinton didn’t get the kind of adulation thus far lavished on Obama in the media.
I’d be curious to see what the numbers were between each President’s first European tour. I’m betting that the disparities were even more pronounced, even though Obama’s trip turned out to be laughably inept.