Shock: In Final Week, MSNBC and Fox Grew Even More Partisan

by Patrick Brennan

The week before the presidential election was held, Pew released a study from its project for Excellence in Journalism assessing the nature and tone of the media’s election coverage. It found, less than surprisingly, that Fox News offered substantially negative commentary on the president, but that MSNBC’s treatment of Mitt Romney was even more negative. Yesterday Pew released an updated version, considering the final week of the campaign, which reflects some of the same findings.

President Obama received even more positive coverage in the week of October 29 to November 5, which Pew attributes to the number of positive “horse race” stories (meaning updates on polling, etc., understandable given that his lead was solidifying), but also the flattering coverage of Hurricane Sandy. The split is quite substantial:

And they confirmed their findings about the relative levels of partisanship at MSNBC and Fox News; the divide grew even more extreme in the final week:

Both Fox News and MSNBC became even more extreme in how they differed from the rest of the press in coverage of the two candidates. On Fox News, the amount of negative coverage of Obama increased-from 47% in the first four weeks of October to 56% the final week. Meanwhile, positive discussion of Romney grew, from 34% of segments to 42%. On MSNBC, the positive coverage of Obama increased from 33% during most of October to 51% during the last week, while Romney’s negative coverage increased from 57% to 68%.

The relevant chart:

In a recent profile of the Left’s cable network, the New York Times quoted Rachel Maddow as saying, by contrast to Fox, “I think that we [at MSNBC] are more information-based.” By that logic, Pew’s findings suggest that there was literally no good information available to report about Romney in the final week of the campaign, and literally no bad news about Obama. 

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