Bias Biopsy

Does the news media favor Democratic or Republican presidential candidates? That’s the subject of a new Pew Research Center analysis.

Democrats are being favored. By a substantial 49 to 31 percent margin, more stories are being written about Democrats, and Democrats also have received more positive coverage than Republicans (35% of stories were positive for Democrats vs. 26% of stories positive for Republicans). The measure employed in the analysis is whether two-thirds or more of a given story’s assertions were judged to be either positive or negative toward a candidate.

Though Democrats are faring better overall, the coverage has not been kind to front-runners of either party. The early Republican front-runner, John McCain, clearly had it worst (12% positive, 48% negative), though you could debate whether his poor performance with voters caused bad coverage or the bad coverage caused his poor performance with voters. Later front runners Hillary Clinton (27% positive, 38% negative) and Rudy Giuliani (28% positive and 37% negative) had about an equally tough time with the press.

And it’s mostly bad to be a challenger. While Barrack Obama has been the runaway media darling of the race (47% postive to 16% negative), other candidates lower in the polls suffered the worst fate of all – non-coverage. Given that Obama’s support with primary voters didn’t pick up appreciably during this period, one has to ponder whether any of this even matters.

In the heated debate about news media bias, I’ve always argued it is much more valid to focus on what reporters are actually reporting than how reporters are voting, or who they work for after they leave reporting. Well, in the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign season, they are reporting pro-Democratic.

– Loveland

6 thoughts on “Bias Biopsy

  1. jl says:

    It will be interesting to see if these findings hold as the campaign progresses. Because Senator Clinton’s lead has made her the punching bag for nearly every candidate, it seems likely she will have an even worse negative-to-positive ratio through the rest of 2007.

    If that happens, it will have nothing to do with any kind of conservative bias. An analysis like this is partially a measure of bias, but it’s also partially a measure of how the race is developing. That is, if a candidate is mispeaking publicly, losing the fundraising battle, slipping in the polls, caught in a scandal or being regularly beat up by opponents or special interests, those developments will be covered, and the researchers will mark them down as negative stories. But are those stories negative because of bias or because of campaign developments?

  2. EMM says:

    Could it possibly be that news reports appear pro-Democratic right now because all those Republican chickens are coming home to roost? After six solid years of one-party rule, we’re left with protracted war in two countries with the looming possibility of a third, sex scandals involving upright conservatives, home sales in the dumps, the stock market as jittery as sheep in Wyoming, civil liberties sounding treasonous when defended, global warming, a great American city still not recovered, lead-based paint in our kids’ toys, everything but everything, from milk to heating oil, costing more, and an international reputation in shambles.
    And I would vote for a Republican why?

  3. The Analyst says:

    I look forward with great anticipation Rudy’s impending defeat of Hillary, then you can add 4 more years to your conspiracy theory. Ah ha ha ha haah ha….

  4. Kelly Groehler says:

    The Fourth Estate hold the other three accountable for governing according to the civil liberties outlined in our constitution. So why is anyone up in arms – or even surprised – that it’s liberal?

    What a non sequitur.

Comments are closed.