It’s not your imagination. John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting more negative press coverage than their Dem counterparts. A recent study for the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that six out of 10 McCain stories were negative, furthermore Obama had more than twice as many positive stories (36 percent) as McCain and just half the percentage of negative (29 percent). What’s more Politico has even copped to being part of the problem! The liberal media elite strikes again! But wait, perhaps it’s not actually that simple. Says Politico‘s John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei:
As it happens, McCain’s campaign is going quite poorly and Obama’s is going well. Imposing artificial balance on this reality would be a bias of its own…Our sincere answer is that of the factors driving coverage of this election and making it less enjoyable for McCain to read his daily clip file than for Obama ideological favoritism ranks virtually nil.
A number of media types have been making the similar points of late. Campbell Brown has defended her controversial questioning of McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds saying “When you have Candidate A saying the sky is blue, and Candidate B saying it’s a cloudy day, I look outside and I see, well, it’s a cloudy day, I should be able to tell my viewers, ‘Candidate A is wrong, Candidate B is right.’ And at a Smith Foundation panel last night Steven Rendall of the media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting suggested that the bad press may just be a result of bad behavior on McCain’s part. Of course Obama is not all sunshine and unicorns when it comes to dealing with the press.
It is not our impression that many reporters are rooting for Obama personally. To the contrary, most colleagues on the trail we’ve spoken with seem to find him a distant and undefined figure. But he has benefited from the idea that negative attacks that in a normal campaign would be commonplace in this year would carry an out-of-bounds racial subtext. That’s why Obama’s long association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was basically a nonissue in the general election.
Journalists’ hair-trigger racial sensitivity may have been misplaced, but it was not driven by an ideological tilt.
In addition, Obama has benefited from his ability to minimize internal drama and maximize secrecy and thus to starve feed the press’ bias for palace intrigue. In this sense, his campaign bears resemblance to the two run by George W. Bush.