The Media, the President, and the Horse Race

Friday, October 21, 2011


This week, the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study called "The Media Primary," which followed positive and negative coverage of presidential candidates from 11,500 sources. They found that President Obama received nearly four times as much negative press as he did positive press. Mark Jurkowitz of the Project for Excellence in Journalism talks to Brooke about the study, and what these numbers mean.

Comments [10]

Veritas from Planet Reality

@John Griffin:
You have GOT to be kidding us. "The media" didn't call Herman Cain any of those things.
Show us a link to examples of what you're describing, or admit that you were making it up.

Oct. 25 2011 07:08 AM
Eric S. Harris from St. Louis, MO

And their response to the complaints of a media blackout of Ron Paul?

I must have missed it. Again.

Oct. 23 2011 11:13 PM

Can somebody help me out here? Was Brooke Galdstone trying to be funny when she said:

"From what I'm seeing right now, the mainstream media are Tea Partiers..."

I couldn't tell. Was it an attempt at over-the-top humor? Was it something of an inside joke for the NPR intelligenstia?

Because from what I'm seeing right now, NPR is a franchise of "Occupy D.C."

Oct. 23 2011 09:57 PM
John Griffin

It would be funny if it weren't so serious. The "media" calls the Republicans racist, call Herman Cain "Uncle Tom" , Traitor" to his own race, Racist, and last but not least Stupid.
It is amazing how the "press" can EVER call themselves "unbiased". Only if you agree with them.

Oct. 23 2011 04:45 PM
John T. Dulaney

Concerning your story about press coverage of President Obama as studied by Pew using Crimson Hexagon’s “algorithm”:

Personally, I would never confuse 9% positive, 34% negative, and 57% neutral with “overwhelmingly negative” as you repeated more than once. The article on Pew’s own website is at least more careful in its phraseology.

Also, what is Pew’s definition of the alleged (but undescribed) 11,500 “news media”? Are results from a blogger with a readership of one given the same statistical weight as those from the New York Times and NBC? At no time in your interview with Mark Jurkowitz did you ask him, and nowhere in the article on Pew’s website is it answered.

Finally, I would never accept unquestioningly your interviewee’s “overwhelmingly positive” praise for the algorithm cited. Is the American Journal of Political Science, in which the article “A Method of Automated Nonparametric Content Analysis for Social Science”, a peer-reviewed journal? And in particular was this article reviewed by statisticians?

Mr. Jurkowitz made unsupported assertions that you would question if he were a politician or a holocaust-denier. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that he’s from Pew, possibly a friend, and can use big words like algorithm.

Coverage of this story was not up to your usual high standard. I sense it was done with undue haste. And my respect for Pew has slipped several notches.

John T. Dulaney

Oct. 23 2011 10:50 AM

One could go on and on about the ways in which the Obama Administration has bettered the country form where Republicans and Bush left it, despite Republican obstructionism, but I leave this link in anticipation of those who will deny that Bush left the deficit at 1.3 to 1.4 trillion as he walked out of the oval office:

Oct. 22 2011 11:33 AM

This story dovetails nicely with this weeks media coverage of a scientific study regarding groupthink, and the tendency of people to conform and mentally accept lies if a "group set" displays a preference for the lie.

I would say this translates directly into lower poll ratings for Obama as the populace is exposed to the constant negativity in the media, despite the fact that President Obama has done exceptionally well for Americans in the face of overwhelming adversity.

We should be long off the cliff and on the ravine floor economically, but despite Republican intransigence thwarting recovery efforts, Obama has kept the economy from utterly sinking, even if still having to bale water.

Bush got loads of credit for no further homeland attacks, Obama has done the same.

Obama has reduced deficit numbers in the current year from where Bush left them, at 1.3 trillion, despite reduced revenues and an economy still in need of stimulus.

Obama has rid America of key terrorist figures that, "if he were Republican, would have him on Mount Rushmore by now."

Obama will have us out of Iraq at years end, as he promised Americans and as the Iraqi people demand.

Obama foreign policy has been flawless regarding America's role and actions during the Arab Spring.

Obama has tired and tried to find common ground with Republicans, who have shown contempt and intransigence in return.

... at every turn, Obama has tried to do right by the American people, only to be thwarted and forced to compromise America's interests by a ridciulously politicized and infantile Republican party.

... if "groupthink" due to media unfairness costs Obama the 2012 election, it will be a great tragedy for the American people, especially considering the alternative.

May I add, some of the media is overtly anti-Obama conservative... the rest is terrified of getting on the wrong side of conservative because of the vindictiveness of the right for anyone and anything that doesn't espouse their twisted view of the world.

Oct. 22 2011 11:17 AM

Slight correction:
"Does the fact that the news media is NOT absolutely ignoring...."

Oct. 22 2011 11:05 AM

Sen. Obama "didn't own anything" in 2008 and didn't even have much of a record unlike the Republican governors running today yet Obama was widely and irrationally celebrated in the media.
I take it no problem with the media coverage and his positive polling then?
Now President Obama does have a record and owns an economy he and his party created on their own terms for two solid years.

Does the fact that news media is absolutely ignoring an obvious and massive policy failure and declining economy that effects every American prove there is no bias? The failure cannot be denied and is too big to be ignored. The effort by the Democrats and many in the media is to recognize the failure but deflect the blame and that is where the media bias comes in.

Oct. 22 2011 11:01 AM
George Kay from Sylvania, OH


Listened to your story on bias in the media. I was a bit amused, then saddened by your apparent misunderstanding of media bias. Negative stories about political leaders' statements are not necessarily showing media bias. They can actually be reporting the truth which in many cases can negatively reflect on the politician. Bias in the media is obvious when double standards are apparent - such as the lack of main stream media interest in Solyndra / SunPower; the Brazilian oil exploration investment; Fast and Furious. If Bush were President, networks would have been all over each in detail - can you imagine Republican cronyism in the solar scandals? By now, Bush would have been called a murderer in Fast and Furious.

Bias is how the main stream media interviews Democrats vs Republicans on news shows. Bias is also not recognizing that bias does exist, or worse, not wanting to admit it.

Oct. 22 2011 09:27 AM

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