Tuesday, September 30, 2008

O.K. Budding Social Scientists! Time To Play "Spot The Error"

QandO points to this study from the Media Research Center. From MRC's executive summary:

These are the key findings of the Media Research Center’s exhaustive analysis of ABC, CBS and NBC evening news coverage of Barack Obama — every story, every soundbite, every mention — from his first appearance on a network broadcast in May 2000 through the end of the Democratic primaries in June 2008, a total of 1,365 stories. MRC analysts found that the networks’ coverage — particularly prior to the formal start of Obama’s presidential campaign — bordered on giddy celebration of a political "rock star" rather than objective newsgathering.

Key Findings:

# The three broadcast networks treated Obama to nearly seven times more good press than bad — 462 positive stories (34% of the total), compared with only 70 stories (just 5%) that were critical.

# NBC Nightly News was the most lopsided, with 179 pro-Obama reports (37%), more than ten times the number of anti-Obama stories (17, or 3%). The CBS Evening News was nearly as skewed, with 156 stories spun in favor of Obama (38%), compared to a mere 21 anti-Obama reports (5%). ABC’s World News was the least slanted, but still tilted roughly four-to-one in Obama’s favor (127 stories to 32, or 27% to 7%).

# Barack Obama received his best press when it mattered most, as he debuted on the national scene. All of the networks lavished him with praise when he was keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Convention, and did not produce a single negative story about Obama (out of 81 total reports) prior to the start of his presidential campaign in early 2007.

# The networks downplayed or ignored major Obama gaffes and scandals. Obama’s relationship with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko was the subject of only two full reports (one each on ABC and NBC) and mentioned in just 15 other stories. CBS and NBC also initially downplayed controversial statements from Obama’s longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright, but heavily praised Obama’s March 18 speech on race relations.

# While Obama’s worst media coverage came during the weeks leading up to the Pennsylvania primary on April 22, even then the networks offered two positive stories for every one that carried a negative spin (21% to 9%). Obama’s best press of the year came after he won the North Carolina primary on May 6 — after that, 43 percent of stories were favorable to Obama, compared to just one percent that were critical.

# The networks minimized Obama’s liberal ideology, only referring to him as a "liberal" 14 times in four years. In contrast, reporters found twice as many occasions (29) to refer to Obama as either a "rock star," "rising star" or "superstar" during the same period.

# In covering the campaign, network reporters highlighted voters who offered favorable opinions about Obama. Of 147 average citizens who expressed an on-camera opinion about Obama, 114 (78%) were pro-Obama, compared to just 28 (19%) that had a negative view, with the remaining five offering a mixed opinion.

Spot the error?

Well, if you wanted to make the case that Obama received preferential treatment during the primaries what would you logically need? A point of comparison maybe? If we could compare Obama's coverage with Clinton's and saw a large discrepancy wouldn't that provide compelling evidence, particularly given the close nature of the contest at hand?

As is, the best this report can be is suggestive of a media fawning over Obama, but it leaves out too much data to be considered conclusive.

1 comment:

idjiut said...

It doesn't matter, I will not be voting for Barak Hussein Obama in November and I hope and pray that most Americans are not stupid enough to vote for him either. When I talk to people about the election, I hear them say that they are afraid that McCain will get the US into another war. I wonder where they got that idea? Yet, it was Obama who mentioned attacking Pakistan during the first debate, what happened to diplomacy? Why is it that no one is calling Obama a war monger? The main stream media, along with the DNC has selected Obama as their Democratic candidate. Curious that the DNC decided to give Florida and Michigan full voting rights at the convention, but only after Hillary suspended her campaign and only after all the other states held their primaries, a thinly veiled corruption of the primary voting process with the sole purpose of manipulating an election. Where is the outrage?
It seems that the main stream media is correct in their assumption that most Americans are stupid. Of course one only needs to view one episode of Jerry Springer and then might also draw the same conclusion. Where DOES he get those people anyway?