Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama's Media: The Return of the Partisan Press

Partisans of both sides routinely rail away at mass media bias, particularly when a critical news cycle focuses unwanted attention on a favored candidate.

But election 2008 will go down in history as the turning point in American's return to
a partisan press.

Pew Research

It turns out that studies of press coverage of the election find that Democratic nominee Barack Obama enjoys a more than 2-to-1 advantage in favorable election coverage in the news (via Saberpoint):

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, according to a new study of the media since the two national political conventions ended.

Press treatment of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, but not markedly so.

But coverage of McCain has been heavily unfavorable - and has become more so over time. In the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, unfavorable stories about McCain outweighed favorable ones by a factor of more than three-to-one -- the most unfavorable of all four candidates - according to the study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For Obama during this period, just over a third of the stories were clearly positive in tone (36%), while a similar number (35%) were neutral or mixed. A smaller number (29%) were negative.

For McCain, by comparison, nearly six-in-ten stories studied were decidedly negative in nature (57%), while fewer than two-in-ten (14%) were positive.
This survey lays out the analysis fairly neutrally, with its stress on the balance of positive versus negative reporting - yet, that seems like a distinction without a difference (note only 14 percent of coverage in the last period was positive for McCain).

Michael Malone comes out directly to announce the end of an era of objective news reporting in the United States.

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game -- with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I've found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer ... nothing, nothing I've seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign.
Note, too, this vignette from a reader at Instapundit (via PoliGazette):

Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. people cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working.
America today has a partisan press favoring the Democratic Party. In its conclusion a review of press bias in recent American history, the Colorado Springs Gazette notes:

The pretense of objectivity, long a part of our country's Fourth Estate, has been sacrificed at the altar of Obama. A majority of mainstream journalists have given up on the illusion of objectivity. They want the Democrats to win, they don't have the time or energy for fairness, and they'll give their professional lives for the cause if necessary. And that's OK. The genie has emerged from the bottle and she's never going back. At least Americans see her and know her better than ever.
Lefty commentators reponsing to this will tote-up numerous examples of how the press has been "unfair" to Obama, but one or two anomolous examples of critical reporting can't shake loose the fact that the mass media has abandoned its role as a non-partisan watchdog for the public good.

This is a shame not just for citizens hungering for balanced news on the state of the nation, but for the survival of Democratic legitimacy as well.