Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on November 1, 2007

The media is biased. Yeah, you didn't need me to tell you that, but earlier this week the Project for Excellence in Journalism out of Harvard University released its first study on the 2008 presidential election coverage for Jan.-May 2007.

It just doesn't feel right writing that. This super-early primary stuff is getting on my nerves.

I want to focus on the analysis of media by medium here, and hit a few highlights.

Newspaper coverage:
Dems positive to negative: 58.8 to 11.3
GOP positive to negative: 26.4 to 39.6

Remember, this isn't coverage of President George W. Bush or Congress, this is solely coverage of the candidates vying to succeed him.

Big three evening news shows:
Dems positive to negative: 39.5 to 17.1
GOP positive to negative: 18.6 to 37.2

PBS TV coverage was the most fair of any media outlet:
Dems positive, neutral, negative: 8.3 to 25
GOP positive, neutral, negative: 0 to 77.8 to 22.2

For all those Fox News haters out there, I want to quote PEJ's findings on that cable channel:

Fox News: The programming studied on Fox News offered a somewhat more positive picture of Republicans and more negative one of Democrats compared with other media outlets. Fox News stories about a Republican candidate were most likely to be neutral (47%), with the remainder more positive than negative (32% vs. 21% negative). The bulk of that positive coverage went to Giuliani (44% positive), while McCain still suffered from unflattering coverage (20% positive vs. 35% negative).

When it came to Democratic candidates, the picture was more negative. Again, neutral stories had a slight edge (39%), followed by 37% negative and 24% positive. And, in marked contrast from the rest of the media, coverage of Obama was twice as negative as positive: 32% negative vs. 16% positive and 52% neutral.

But any sense here that the news channel was uniformly positive about Republicans or negative about Democrats is not manifest in the data.

PEJ also reported that *surprise* talk radio was the most biased medium by far. Of course, what differentiates talk radio from the rest of the media is that it doesn't present itself as fair and unbiased.

And that's the mainstream media's three-headed problem. It leans left, won't admit it, and if it were to fix this it would have to hire more conservatives.

And I'm not sure they'd be able to find them.


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November 2007



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