Media Bias? What Planet Are You From?

Everyone knows the media isn’t biased. And if it was, it would be biased toward the right, right?

President-elect Barack Obama received 68% positive evaluations on the network evening news shows during the general election. His treatment was twice as favorable as John McCain’s 33% positive and Sarah Palin’s 34% positive evaluations.

Whoa, whoa, what does that prove? Maybe Obama just had more things that were positive about him and his campaign than those other two.

Obama’s 68% positive press is the strongest showing CMPA has ever recorded for a presidential candidate, since we began monitoring election news in 1988. He easily eclipsed previous leader John Kerry’s 59% positive evaluations on network news in 2004. Conversely, McCain’s tally of 33% positive evaluations was the worst showing since George H.W. Bush received only 29% positive press in 1988.

Averaged across the all elections since 1988, broadcast network coverage of the six Democratic presidential nominees has been evenly balanced – 50% positive vs. 50% negative press. The average coverage of the six Republican candidates has been 34% positive vs. 66% negative, a margin of 2 to 1 negative.

Oh. Well, uh, you know, the Dems have just had better candidates, like, uh, like John Kerry. John Kerry!? 59% positive!? Yeow. You’d have to be biased to give that goof 59% positive coverage. Obviously an outlier.

But back to Obama:

Obama’s 2 to 1 lead in good press also held true for the candidates’ issue coverage, which includes evaluations of their policies and proposals. A slight majority (53%) of statements about Obama’s policies and proposals were favorable, compared to one out of four (24%) favorable comments about McCain and one out of six (16%) favorable toward Palin. The combined totals were 52% positive issue coverage of the Democrats and 24% positive toward the GOP.

Yup, hard to argue the bias question with numbers like that, isn’t it? And, of course these aren’t particularly helpful either:

The three broadcast networks were very similar in the tone of their coverage. ABC and CBS had 68% positive coverage of Obama. NBC gave Obama 73% positive coverage. The networks were similar in the negative coverage of McCain. McCain received only 31% positive coverage on NBC, 33% positive coverage on CBS, and 36% positive coverage on ABC.

I forget who it was, but the person who called the over-the-top positive coverage for Obama in this election “embarrassing” had a pretty valid point. You can also understand why some experts believe coverage like Obama got is worth about 5% at the polls.

Objective Journalism – 2008. RIP

Advocacy Journalism – alive, well and left-leaning.

We should understand, accept and learn to live with it because it isn’t going to change. Just don’t let the media get away with the “unbiased” nonsense anymore and weigh everything they say or report very carefully against the facts you’re able to dig up independently – because that’s the only way you’re going to get anywhere near the truth.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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