Does Obama get too much media coverage?

August 22, 2008

obama-media.jpgNEW YORK – Few would doubt that Barack Obama has attracted more media coverage than his Republican rival John McCain, fueling suspicion that journalists are biased towards Obama. 

A Rasmussen Reports survey in July found that 49 percent of voters believe most reporters are trying to help Obama. Just 14 percent believed most reporters were trying to help McCain and 24 percent said most reporters tried to be objective.

Obama’s seventh appearance this year on the cover of Time magazine, compared to two for McCain, renewed those charges this week. Read our story on that here.

Many journalists argue that Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, is simply a bigger story than McCain, who fits the traditional mold of a man running for president.

Andrew Tyndall, whose Tyndall Report monitors news on the three major TV networks, said Obama’s overseas trip in July was “the culmination of the storyline about Obama getting all the media coverage.”

Up to that point, he said, Obama had a 2-to-1 advantage in airtime but there seemed to have been a “self-correcting mechanism” by the media in recent weeks, influenced also by the fact that Obama went on vacation, leaving the field to McCain.

From July 28 to Aug 15, Tyndall said total network coverage of McCain took up 45 minutes compared to 28 minutes for Obama.

“Obama coverage went way off after the hyper-charged cover of his trip and the last three weeks he’s been off the radar screen,” Tyndall said.

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, said analysis of 48 TV, cable, radio, newspapers and Internet outlets showed 50 percent of general election stories were “significantly” about McCain (at least 25 percent about him) while 80 percent were significantly about Obama.

mccain-and-obama.jpgBut a report at the end of July by the Center for Media and Public Affairs said that since the primaries ended, on-air evaluations of Obama have been 72 percent negative while McCain’s coverage was 57 percent negative.

Another report this week by the same institution tracked the number of jokes about the candidates told by late night chat show hosts Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and David Letterman. Obama was the subject of 169 jokes to McCain’s 322. 

Obama was the subject of more jokes on Comedy Central, however — 207 to 201 — a trend the report linked to heavy news media coverage, which it said may have spurred greater attention from “fake news” shows on the channel.

It said the most frequent McCain jokes dealt with his age while Obama jokes tended to portray him as “pretentious or the beneficiary of fawning media coverage.”

A sample joke (from Leno): “The only way McCain could get less coverage is if he got a primetime show on NBC.”

PICTURES: REUTERS/ Jason Reed, Rebecca Cook


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Yes, Obama gets more coverage by the liberal news media.

Also, it is a shame that Senator McCain’s age is so ridiculed by so-called comedians — elderly folks are not respected in the USA, as they should be. Wise guys are mostly young — true wisdom, good judgement, character, decency and honor mainly evolve as one grows older in today’s “new” USA — Senator McCain is an example of wisdom, etc — all his attributes, and they are many, should be praised, not be made into stupid, immature jokes, and he should be fairly treated by the news media.

Obama has no judgement, nor is he qualified to be elected to the highest office is this land! Further,Obama is a lawyer and a socialist — lawyer and socialist says enough for me not to support his White House run!

Posted by Scarlett | Report as abusive

A news article speculating whether Barack Obama gets too much media coverage? Oh the irony.

Re: the above comment, John McCains age is fair game for media pundits and comedians. If he does die during his first term then you are voting for someone whose ideas and principles will not be in affect, but those of whichever ‘Dan Quayle’ replaces him. I wish him the best of health and long life but the comedians are right to be concerned about electing another weak president.

Posted by Tim M | Report as abusive

I just became a Republican. i amm so disalusion with the dem. party Joe Biden?????

Posted by Nancy | Report as abusive

All the candidates should get appropriate media coverage–and currently I do not see preferential treatment. Unfortunately in today’s world the media drives public opinion and voters fail to get the facts and use reasonable judgment in making their choices. As a senior I question Sen. McCain’s ability to fulfill the requirements of the oval office; and also feel the VP choice will require extreme scrutiny by the voters, as this person may well be President one day. I hope all the candidates come through this campaign in good health and gain much wisdom needed to lead the USA out of our current problems.

Posted by Lula | Report as abusive

Obama gets far too much coverage. He has no idea how to tell a joke. Steven Colbert’s candidacy should have been allowed.

Posted by Ian Thorpe | Report as abusive

Obama gets way too much coverage. I am irritated at seeing him. All the millions that have been given to him…could it be the main stream media is paid off? I really do not understand the bias and why things are not fair but they sure are not. I am so glad for FOX news. Even though they present Democratic liberal views (which I am sick of), they present Republican (conservative) views as well. At least there is that network. It is awful otherwise. I just disagree with the Democrats (Obama)on the issues important to me (brief ex: abortion & marriage). I do not like him misquoting the Bible. And all the snide, rude, and mocking comments by Democrats to & about Republicans I cannot stand. The topics they focus on and what they ignore. How they accuse Republicans of what they are most guilty of. It is difficult not to get upset. With George Soros, maybe nothing can be done…maybe it is in the bag.

Posted by Mary | Report as abusive

Claudia…not sue where to post this…however, in the recent article about Rice Urges UN to Address Iran Threat, it states the Iranian president stated he wanted to wipe Israel off the face of the map. It’s been reported that the translation was flawed and in fact, during an interview (Larry King) he said he never said that. So why is this still being pursued both by the administration and the press? Lost in translation is one of the biggest obstacles to peace.

Posted by lou | Report as abusive