Tales from the Trail

from MediaFile:

Presidential candidates: Love ‘em and Lehman

Media coverage of the U.S. presidential race has not so much cast Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed Republican opponent John McCain in a negative one.

That' s the verbatim conclusion of a new report from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism that analyzes the way the press has covered the campaign.

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.

from MediaFile:

Presidential candidates: Love ‘em and Lehman

Media coverage of the U.S. presidential race has not so much cast Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed Republican opponent John McCain in a negative one.

That' s the verbatim conclusion of a new report from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism that analyzes the way the press has covered the campaign.

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.

Campaign veterans: The more things change….

kerrey.jpgNEW YORK- Former presidential contenders Gary Hart and Bob Kerrey on Wednesday weighed in on media coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential race, agreeing that certain weaknesses in contemporary coverage are the result of the prolific new forms of media while others are simply timeless.

Hart, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, said he wished media outlets would send reporters with specialized expertise to cover candidates delivering major policy speeches.

“Do not send your political reporter to cover the speech. Send your foreign policy reporter or your economic reporter or your defense reporter,” said Hart, whose second presidential bid was derailed by a sex scandal.

Palin camp limits media from her own supporters

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Political rallies are usually ideal for reporters to chat with party activists, but the campaign of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin took an unusual step by appearing to limit access to her supporters.

clearwater-rally.jpgAt Monday’s rally in the battleground state of Florida, reporters were barred from wandering around the area where the Alaska governor’s supporters had gathered. 

About 20 seconds into an interview I attempted with Brent McDonald, 52, I was stopped by a Palin campaign worker in mid-sentence. “The press is not allowed out here,” she said. 

Palin talks abortion and newspapers — sort of — in Couric interview

palin30.jpgKANSAS CITY, Missouri – Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is happy to discuss her views on social issues like abortion and homosexuality, but reluctant to list what she usually reads to keep up on world events.
 
That’s the takeout from a series of interviews the Alaska governor did with CBS anchor Katie Couric, which aired on Tuesday night.
 
Palin, whose opposition to abortion rights has ignited support among social conservatives, some of whom were wary of presidential nominee John McCain, discussed whether rape or incest victims should be allowed to have an abortion.
 
“Personally, I would counsel the person to choose life, despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in,” she said. “If you’re asking, though, kind of foundationally here, should anyone end up in jail for having an … abortion, absolutely not.”
 
When asked about her views on homosexuality, Palin talked about a close friend who is gay.
 
“One of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years happens to be gay, and I love her dearly,” Palin said. “She is one of my best friends, who happens to have made a choice that isn’t a choice I would have made. But I am not going to judge people.”
 
Palin has faced criticism for lacking experience in foreign policy. Before becoming governor some two years ago she was the mayor of a small town.
 
Couric asked Palin what newspapers and magazines she read regularly before becoming McCain’s running mate “to stay informed and to understand the world.”
 
Here is her response, according to a transcript provided by CBS:
 
Palin: I’ve read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media. 
 
Couric: What, specifically?
 
Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years. 
 
Couric: Can you name a few? 
 
Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn’t a foreign country, where it’s kind of suggested, “Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?” Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage. 

Photo credit: REUTERS/Stephen Mally

Media should back off Bristol Palin, Obama says

palin2.jpgMONROE, Mich. – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Monday the pregnancy of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s daughter was not relevant to the campaign and reporters should back off of it.

Obama also said he was offended by a suggestion from an unidentified McCain aide that his campaign might have had a hand in spreading rumors about Palin and her family.
 
“People’s families are off-limits and people’s children are especially off-limits,” Obama told reporters following a campaign event in Monroe, Michigan. “This shouldn’t be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin’s performance as a governor or potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories,” he added.

There was no evidence Obama’s campaign had any role in stoking a rumor that Bristol Palin was actually the mother of Palin’s four-month-old. Reporters traveling with the campaign had been fascinated by the talk for days. Obama’s press aides even told reporters the rumors seemed far-fetched and they would have nothing to say about them.
 
Palin has been the subject of a rumor mill among liberal bloggers who have speculated that Palin faked her own pregnancy in order to cover up for her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol. These bloggers speculated that Sarah Palin’s fifth child, born in April with Down’s syndrome, was actually Bristol Palin’s child and that Sarah Palin was the grandmother. To rebut those rumors, Palin and her husband released a statement, first reported by Reuters, saying that Bristol was five months pregnant.
 
A senior McCain campaign aide was quoted in the Reuters story as suggesting that Obama’s campaign was linked to the bloggers who were spreading the rumors.
 
“I am offended by that statement,” Obama said when asked about it by a reporter. “There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be,” he added. “And if I ever thought there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they’d be fired.” 

Somebody please buy this candidate a coffeemaker

coffee.jpgSEDONA, Arizona – Taking a few days off from the presidential race, Sen. John McCain nonetheless keeps the media on its toes with a daily, early morning trip for coffee.

The Republican presidential candidate, who is staying at his comfortable home in the hills near Sedona, has been driven with staff, Secret Service, reporters, photographer and a television crew in tow to a Starbucks.

There, he quickly gets a cup to go and returns home.

On Friday, the six-vehicle motorcade — four SUVS and two vans– drove him 19 miles roundtrip to a Starbucks in Sedona.

No rain on McCain’s parade during wet Mexican press conference

mccain-mexico.jpgMEXICO CITY – Rain may ruin a parade, but it won’t ruin a press conference – at least not for John McCain.

The Republican U.S. presidential candidate closed up his short swing through Colombia and Mexico on Thursday with a “media avail” in a hangar, against a background of helicopters and fast police cars.

A media avail, for the uninitiated, is short for “availability” – another word for a news conference. And the Arizona senator likes to give them.   

Huckabee not going for VP job — or is he?

huckabee.jpgTOKYO – Mike Huckabee is not running — or maybe he is.

The marathon man, who lost 110 pounds (50 kg) by hitting the road and advocating healthy living after he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2003, has a painful inflammation of the heel known as plantar fasciitis, and he is walking around the Imperial Palace in the Japanese capital gingerly.
    
Whether he will take a walk with presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, as vice presidential nominee is another question requiring equally careful footwork.
  
Speaking with Reuters less than five months before the U.S. presidential election and three months ahead of the Republican convention, the former Arkansas governor was interested but self-deprecating when asked if he would be the party’s No. 2.
    
“I don’t truly believe that’s probably going to happen and I’ve moved on to doing other things.”
    
Those projects include the trip to Japan and lectures at Tohoku University in northern Miyagi Prefecture, as well as Fox News, which hired the former Republican presidential hopeful as a political commentator leading up to the national election.
    
But Huckabee quickly noted that did not preclude being on the other side of the camera in November.
     
“I’m very happy and proud to be able to do some commentary and develop a programme with the Fox News Channel,” he said.
    
“But that doesn’t mean if there was an opportunity to run somewhere out in the future, if not this year some other time — I’m not going to take myself completely off the stage.”

Huckabee has called the vice presidential spot an offer no one could refuse, but says he doesn’t expect to be running to the phone anytime soon.
    
“It would be a real surprise if I got that call.”

- Reporting by Dan Sloan    

- Photo credit: Reuters/John Gress (Huckabee pauses during a news conference in Appleton, Wisconsin in February, 2008)

Campaign debates over sexism, racism, ageism rage on

obama5.jpgNEW YORK – One thing seems certain in the race for the White House — the debate that the campaigns have sparked on sexism, racism and ageism in the United States is nowhere near resolved.

The media’s handling of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain – each running a groundbreaking campaign — has drawn attention to the way women, blacks and older people are seen in America, according to a panel of experts that met on mccain2.jpgclinton2.jpgTuesday at the Paley Center for Media.

 ”I think it’s time for journalists to stop and look back at what they did and not say, ‘Well, we’re not covering Hillary Clinton any more so gender is no longer an issue,’” said panelist Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.