The New York Times has been going easy on President Obama, according to the newspaper's public editor, but studies show the rest of the mainstream media isn't following suit. The Times and the MSM are not one in the same, it appears.
In a column that undoubtedly ruffled feathers insides the Times newsroom Sunday, Arthur Brisbane said his paper is going easy on Obama during his re-election campaign, a failure it already committed in 2008. While hammering away against Mitt Romney and his financial investments this cycle, Brisbane says "we haven’t heard as much from The Times about President Obama’s re-election effort." To illustrate his point, he cites a study in Politics & Policy by media scholars Stephen Farnsowrth and S. Robert Lichter who say The Times has given Obama more favorable coverage than any of his predecessors "who also brought a new party to power in the White House: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan." He also offers examples of favorable coverage of the president, like the book The Times published titled Obama: The Historic Journey and a long profile of him in the Times Topics section, coverage neither George W. Bush nor his father got.
With a boost from the conservative news portal the Drudge Report, It didn't take long for Brisbane's criticism to go viral but if conservatives want to use the column as evidence of widespread media collusion for Obama, they'll probably want to avoid the other recent media studies. It appears The Times' favorable coverage this election cycle is an outlier in the mainstream media landscape.
The first evidence of this comes in a study by Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism, which found that media coverage in late March and early April was much more favorable to Romney than Obama across MSM outlets. "The tone of President Obama's coverage hit an 11-week low. From April 2-8, 13% of Obama's coverage was positive, 37% was negative and 50% neutral," read the report. "After a four week stretch from February 20-March 18 in which his tone was much more mixed, Obama has now endured three straight weeks of substantially negative coverage. Last week, that included everything from stories about rising gas prices to speculation about whether his health care bill will be overturned by the Supreme Court."
Another plus for Republicans has been the amount of airtime the TV outlets have given to them on Sunday talk shows. Last week, the liberal watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting tracked the Sunday shows ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday from August to February 2012 and found that Republicans received more on-on-one interviews. "Seventy percent of one-on-one interviews on the shows featured Republicans, according to the study," reads the study. "That’s 166 Republican guests to 70 Democrats. For the roundtable discussions, Republicans and/or conservatives made 282 appearances to 164 by Democrats and progressives." It's worth noting that Republicans had a primary going on, which lends itself to more booking of Republicans. Still, that's a big microphone for conservative voices to bash Obama (and one another).
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.