Media Blog

Dems Double up on Morning TV Coverage

When you consider how much more energy and money the Democratic presidential candidates seem to have this year, don’t forget the media factor. Rich Noyes and the Media Research Center’s morning-news team looked at every campaign segment in the first seven months of 2007, and there was a very obvious gap in not only the amount of coverage, but in the tone each party received. Take a look at the findings, and between the lines, it seems to suggest that the networks really aren’t careful in evaluating whether they’re fair and balanced in their coverage. They just let their preferences do the subtle, or often unsubtle, talking:
– The networks offered nearly twice as much coverage of the Democrats. More than half of all campaign segments (284, or 55%) focused on the Democratic contest, compared with just 152 (29%) devoted to the Republicans. The remaining stories either offered roughly equal discussion of both parties or did not focus on the major parties.
– All three Democratic frontrunners received more attention than any of the top Republican candidates, with New York Senator Hillary Clinton receiving the most coverage of all.
– Undeclared liberal candidates such as former Vice President Al Gore and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg received more network TV attention than many of the declared Republican candidates.
– The network morning shows doled out nearly three times as much airtime (4 hours, 35 minutes) to interviews with the various Democratic campaigns. In contrast, the Republicans received just 1 hour and 44 minutes of interview airtime.
– In their interviews with the candidates, the network hosts emphasized a liberal agenda. Of the substantive questions that could be categorized as reflecting a political agenda, more than two-thirds (69%) of the questions to Democrats reflected a liberal premise, and more than four-fifths (82%) of the questions to Republicans came from the same perspective.
– The top Democratic candidates received much more favorable coverage than their GOP counterparts, with Senator Clinton cast as “unbeatable” and Illinois Senator Barack Obama tagged as a “rock star.” The most prominent Republican, Arizona Senator John McCain, was portrayed as a loser because of his support for staying the course in Iraq.
– Not once did network reporters describe Senator Clinton and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards as “liberal,” while ABC only once labeled Obama as “liberal.” Yet the networks showed no hesitation in attaching the “liberal” label to Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, who was so branded 12 times.

Tim Graham — Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, where he began in 1989, and has served there with the exception of 2001 and 2002, when served ...

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