A new study from Pew’s Project For Excellence In Journalism has uncovered a serious case of media bias, as Mitt Romney is getting three times more positive media coverage than President Obama.
The new Pew study found that after Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary his coverage went from a 37%-35% positive/negative split to an overwhelmingly positive 47%-25%. Before Michigan, the coverage of Romney had been mixed. After his New Hampshire win, the Republican enjoyed positive coverage, 45%-33%, but his loss in South Carolina got him a negative coverage week 28%-40%. Romney hit his low point from February 13-19. His coverage was overwhelmingly negative that week, 51%-23%.
After Michigan, Romney’s positive coverage jumped by 17 points to 45% and negative coverage fell by 5 points to 28%. As the Obama campaign turned their attention to Romney in the first week of April, Romney’s coverage stayed positive but mixed, 35%-33% with 32% neutral.
However, no candidate has received the amount of constant media negativity that President Obama has endured. President Obama has not had a single week in 2012 when positive coverage has outnumbered the negative. Obama’s negative coverage was driven by the media’s willingness to parrot Republican talking points, and the Supreme Court challenge to health care reform.
The one variation in the tone of Obama’s coverage comes when the economy is discussed. Depending on the day’s economic numbers, the gap between the president’s positive and negative coverage is as high as 28-37 points or as low as 11-15 points. The best coverage Obama has gotten all year has been a negative to positive gap in the single digits in late February. In the first week of April, while Romney’s coverage was slightly positive, President Obama’s was almost 3 to 1 negative, 13%-37%.
The difference between how the two candidates are treated becomes obvious in when looked at in graphic form.
Here is a comparison of the two candidates’ media coverage.
As you can see, the supposedly liberally biased media gives Obama zero positive media coverage. At no point in 2012 has Obama enjoyed positive reporting from the supposedly liberal media. On the other hand, the corporate media’s desire to fuel their profits with a close 2012 election has led them to overwhelm Mitt Romney with kindness. (The Pew study surveyed 11,000 media outlets, so the bias goes beyond talk radio and Fox News).
Part of Romney’s positive coverage was fueled by the GOP horserace. The candidate who wins the primary reaps the media coverage the following week, but it goes deeper than that. When President Obama talks about middle class issues and raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, his media coverage gets more negative. It is a surprise that as President Obama talked about the Buffett Rule in early April, his media coverage was 3-1 negative?
When the president talks about helping the middle class or healthcare reform, he gets negative media coverage. The corporate controlled mainstream media doesn’t like it when President Obama talks about raising their taxes. The mainstream media doesn’t like talking about an economic system that is designed to benefit them at the expense of everyone else.
The media shows their displeasure with the president’s message by shaping the coverage of him negatively. Could there be a candidate more custom made to protect and enhance their interests that the King of Bain, Mitt “corporations are people, my friend” Romney? Consciously or not, this corporate bias shapes the media’s coverage of the two candidates.
Those members of the media who could be objective have also been intimidated by the post-2008 howls of the Republican Party that the media was pro-Obama. In an effort to prove that they aren’t pro-Obama, the mainstream media has become anti-Obama.
These media obstacles are just one of the reasons why President Obama and his supporters are going to have to work twice as hard in 2012 as they did in 2008 in order to win reelection. Despite the media’s best efforts, Obama still leads in the polls. This fact speaks volumes about both the weakness of Mitt Romney, and the little discussed strength and conviction of President Obama’s supporters.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association