Study: Media Portrays McCain in "Substantially Negative" Light Compared to Obama


The Project for Excellence in Journalism looks at the coverage of the two presidential candidates since the conventions and concludes "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...coverage of McCain has been heavily unfavorable—and has become more so over time."

Looking at media coverage during the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, the stories about Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., were 3-1 unfavorable to favorable.

The study found that 35% of the stories about Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., were positive, 35% were neutral or mixed, and 29% were negative.

"Much of the increased attention for McCain derived from actions by the senator himself," says the study, "actions that, in the end, generated mostly negative assessments. In many ways, the arc of the media narrative during this phase of the 2008 general election might be best described as a drama in which John McCain has acted and Barack Obama has reacted."

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's coverage went from quite positive to very negative to mixed. "The findings suggest that, in the end, Palin’s portrayal in the press was not the major factor hurting McCain. Her coverage, while tilting negative, was far more positive than her running mate’s.

The study examined 2,412 campaign stories from 48 news outlets. The full study can be read HERE.

-- jpt

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