When it comes to the concept of media bias there are two things that are true:
- Conservatives think that the main stream media is bias against conservatives and republicans.
- Liberals think that Fox is the most bias media outlet out there.
I happen to think that there is good evidence to support contention #1 and strong evidence to contradict contention #2.
Anyway, that is general conversation stuff, I’m here to talk about the media coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign. Namely the bias involved in it.
Bottom line, the bias was present, pronounced and tilted in favor of Obama.
Journalism.org, a PEW organization recently published a report detailing said bias:
Overall from August 27 through October 21, 19% of stories about Obama studied in a cross section of mainstream media were clearly favorable in tone while 30% were unfavorable and 51% mixed. This is a differential of 11 percentage points between unfavorable and favorable stories.
For Romney, 15% of the stories studied were favorable, 38% were unfavorable and 47% were mixed-a differential toward negative stories of 23 points.
During the study, Obama enjoyed a differential that was more than 100% more favorable than Romney. Further, Obama took a “positive coverage” score that was 26% better than Romney received all while Romney suffered 26% more negative coverage.
Looking back, the numbers don’t really surprise me. I’ve accepted a sense of the bias in the media and have come to accept and adjust for that bias as I flip through my channels.
And speaking of flipping through channels, how did the “liberal channel” compare against the “conservative channel?”
Not even close:
Fox gave Obama 100% better coverage than MSNBC gave Romney. As far as the negatives, MSNBC was 54% more negative towards Romney than Fox was towards Obama. In other words, Fox was less negative and more positive towards Obama than MSNBC was towards Romney.
Faux News indeed.
But how about the other outlets?
Two of the three main networks were pretty consistent in their coverage of the two candidates. The one exception is ABC with a decided pro-Obama slant. Notice that NBC actually nets out in favor of Romney by virtue of 2 points to the good in the positive coverage.
In the end, the media carries a bias for the liberal candidate. This was as true in 2012 as it was in 2008. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, just a reminder that a grain of salt needs to be applied when watching news coverage of the events of the day.
Oh, and as a reminder of media bias from a report in 2004, a measure of various outlets:
Fox News was the 5th most centrist news outlet and was only 1 of 2 conservative news sources on the list.