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October 27, 2004
Surprise! Media Treated Bush Worse Than Kerry In The Stretch

Editor and Publisher reports that an independent study of the media shows that George Bush got more than twice the negative coverage than John Kerry did in October, and that only one in seven stories reported about Bush cast him in a positive light:

A new study for the non-partisan Project for Excellence in Journalism suggests that in the first two weeks of October, during the period of the presidential debates, George W. Bush received much more unfavorable media coverage than Sen. John Kerry.

In the overall sample (which included four newspapers, two cable news networks and the four leading broadcast networks), more than half of all Bush stories were negative in tone, during this period. One-quarter of all Kerry stories were negative, according to the study. ...

In the final accounting, 59% of stories that were mainly about Bush told a mainly negative story, while 25% of Kerry stories played out that way. One in three stories about Kerry were positive, one in seven for Bush.

Editor and Publisher downplays any presumed media bias, saying that part of the negativity related to Bush's performance in the debates and from continuing violence in Iraq. However, the reporting that pushed the idea that Bush lost all three debates when only the first seemed to favor Kerry (until the "global test" line started resonating) demonstrates the bias inherent in the media as well. Regarding Iraq, the media covers the violence well but hardly gives any coverage at all to the massive rebuilding effort that the US has made throughout the entire country. "If it bleeds, it leads" -- that's SOP, but in Iraq it gives a very distorted view of the work the Administration has done there. It would be difficult to accept that some bias is not at work in those editorial decisions as well.

Newspapers tended to be the worst -- their coverage ran 46% negative overall, as opposed to 28% for the broadcast networks and 30% for cable news shows. Compare all of those numbers to the 59% negative rating for President Bush, and the notion that bias plays a small role begins to appear ridiculous. It's supposed to be a coincidence that when covering the President, these outlets suddenly get twice as negative as they do with John Kerry? Doubtful.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 27, 2004 5:16 AM

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