Presidential candidates: Love ‘em and Lehman
The report shows that negative stories about Arizona Sen. McCain has been decidedly unfavorable and has worsened over time, with negative stories about him outnumbering favorable Obama stories by more than three to one.
That and many more interesting details are available in the 35-page report, but what caught our attention, being a business-oriented news service, was a graph charting the tone of press coverage devoted to both candidates and how it changed after the bankruptcy filing of investment bank Lehman Brothers.
When Lehman collapsed, the percentage of negative stories about Obama plunged from 30 percent that week in September to just under 10 percent a week later. It scooted back up to 45 percent by early October and has been down again since then. Negative stories about McCain eased to 50 percent from… well, just a bit over 50 percent. Since then it’s surged to nearly 70 percent.
After Lehman collapsed, the reported noted that McCain tried to seize the initiative on the economic crisis.
According to the report:
In doing so, he became a dominant actor in the campaign drama, generating more coverage than any other presidential or vice presidential candidate for the first time in the general election season.
But as McCain did so, the media narrative about him grew increasingly negative.
There’s no doubt numerous factors could have affected the tone of the media’s campaign coverage, but it looks like Lehman’s collapse had at least some effect, at least according to the PEJ’s data. What do you think?
- Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (McCain and Obama at the 2008 Alfred E. Smith dinner)