A new Pew study looking at media coverage leading up to election day indicates that President Obama received far more positive coverage than negative coverage, and that Mitt Romney received far more negative coverage than positive coverage. On cable news, however, things were a bit more extreme.
Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism looked at the coverage of the final week of the campaign on Fox News and MSNBC, the top two cable news channels. On Fox News, 56% of stories about President Obama were negative, with only 5% positive. 42% of stories about Mitt Romney were positive, with 11% negative. MSNBC was even more extreme. 51% of stores about President Obama on MSNBC were positive, with no negative stories. And 68% of stories about Mitt Romney were negative, with zero positive stories.
Ultimately it isn’t clear whether the coverage had any impact on the outcome of the election. Cable news, particularly the partisan hosts on MSNBC and Fox News, tend to appeal to insiders, who already know who they are voting for. Nonetheless, the statistics are a jarring reminder that partisan programming is here to stay.