Tuesday, October 28, 2008

That Goddamn Liberal Media

I got an email a couple days ago complaining about the "biased" pro-Obama slant of the main stream media, with a link to this editorial.  "It may be an eye opener to some," the email sender wrote, "but I find it to be a scary future if not corrected."  

I partly agree with the article.  Obama does receive better news coverage.  A recent study:
The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s researchers found that John McCain, over the six weeks since the Republican convention, got four times as many negative stories as positive ones. The study found six out of 10 McCain stories were negative.

What’s more, Obama had more than twice as many positive stories (36 percent) as McCain — and just half the percentage of negative (29 percent).  
This morning, Politico published an article addressing the apparent tilt in election coverage.  It's a good read, and I recommend checking it out.  

The argument the article makes is not complicated.  Essentially, there is a bias in the media.  The bias, however, is not for or against any specific candidate.  The bias is for stories.  For narratives, the "horse race."  Or, as Politico describes, a "bias against boredom."  While this does skew the press, it is a prejudice that has always and will always be a part of the media, and it does not skew liberal or conservative.  

The campaigns are aware of this.  Sometimes more attention is paid within the campaigns to being "on message" and creating a "narrative" with which the press and voters will respond rather than creating cohesive policy for voters to evaluate.  So the reason why McCain is getting such negative coverage?  He has failed at framing the story, trying out new story angles multiple times per week, and then lashing out at the press when they do not buy into his preferred point of view.  

So, yes, there is some "bias" in the election coverage recently, but to shove all blame on the media gives them too much credit.  By and large, the McCain campaign is earning the coverage they are receiving.  

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