Study: McCain gets more negative coverage than Obama

Charlotte ObserverOctober 22, 2008 

John McCain is getting more negative media coverage than Barack Obama, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The study, released Wednesday, examined 2,412 campaign stories from 48 news outlets during the six weeks from the end of the conventions through the final presidential debate.

The results: While the candidates are receiving equal amounts of coverage, 59% of stories about McCain were "decidedly negative in nature," while only 14% were positive.

Obama hasn't exactly been fawned over by media, but the coverage statistically has been more evenhanded, with 36% of stories clearly positive, 35% neutral or mixed, and 29% negative.

The authors note that the most positive stories on Obama were about politics, rather than policy — stories like polling, the electoral map, and tactics.

McCain's coverage began positively, but turned sharply negative with McCain's reaction to the crisis in the financial markets, the study said. Attempts to attack Obama's character did hurt Obama's media coverage, but McCain's was even more negative.

Sarah Palin coverage's had an "up and down trajectory, moving from quite positive, to very negative, to more mixed," the study said. The negative coverage dealt with looks into her public record and her relationship with the press. "Little of her trouble came from coverage of her personal traits or family issues," the authors said.

Finally, a caveat from the authors: Obama, and then McCain, received negative coverage as each began to drop in the polls. "Winning in politics begat winning coverage," the study said. Which means: When someone is leading, we do positive stories about them leading - and how smart they were to get there.

The big question &madsh; are the media pro-Obama? — was not answerable by the data, the authors said.

Read the study.

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