Media report card: why Mitt Romney got more positive coverage than Obama
The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released its report card on media campaign coverage, and no one came out smelling very rosy.
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"There is a certain logic to the math in this,” he says, noting that all the Republican candidates focused much of their fire on Mr. Obama. “If you have some seven different individuals all getting coverage from the media, all framing their arguments negatively against the president," that will inevitably create an imbalance.Skip to next paragraph
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"President Obama only has a single voice to counter that flood of critiques," he adds.
Other key observations include:
- Romney’s personal life and public record were vetted more than any candidate – constituting some 12 percent of his coverage, with Newt Gingrich nearly tied. The focus on Romney’s life centered on his personal wealth and his career at the private equity investment firm Bain Capital, while Mr. Gingrich gathered much attention for his marital history and financial dealings.
- Rick Santorum, who emerged as Romney’s chief rival, never received sustained positive press. He had three brief periods in which his coverage was more positive than negative – following his strong showing in Iowa; his victories in Missouri, Colorado and Minnesota; and the week of his win in Louisiana.
- Gingrich had only one week during the primary season in which he enjoyed significantly more positive press coverage than negative. That was the week of his victory in South Carolina on Jan. 21.
- In 11 of 15 weeks studied, Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas received more positive coverage than negative – but he received less coverage than other candidates. Congressman Paul received about one-eighth as much coverage as Romney and about one-quarter as much as Mr. Santorum and Gingrich.
What this report spotlights is the punch of the permanent news cycle, says Villanova University political scientist Matt Kerbel. "This becomes important because the way the press frames the ongoing story has very much to do with what people think the election is about."
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