The 2008 Election Is the Media Trying to Elect Obama?
by Dee Dee Myers
July 21, 2008, 5:15 PM
Tomorrow, CBS’s Katie Couric will interview Barack Obama from Jordan. On Wednesday, ABC’s Charlie Gibson will chat with him from Israel. And on Thursday, NBC’s Brian Williams will do the honors from Germany. Call it the presidential campaign equivalent of Shooting the Moon.
And to think, a few short months ago the Washington establishment was buzzing about the press’s pending dilemma: With Obama and John McCain looking like the all-but-certain nominees of their respective parties, how would the media choose between its new crush, Obama, and its long-time paramour, McCain? The Illinois senator has been a media darling since he burst onto the scene at the Democratic National Convention in the summer of 2004, and during the Democratic primary season, he bested Hillary Clinton in both quantity of coverage (he got more) and tenor (his was way more positive). But McCain has gotten so much favorable media attention over the years that he often joked that the press was his political base. In a head-to-head competition, who would win?
So far, the answer is clear: Obama is The One. In the first quarter of the general election, he has simply gotten more and better coverage than McCain. For those who need more evidence than the enormous press entourage that is treating Obama’s current trip not like the campaign swing of a presidential candidate, but like the international debut of the New American President, there are several new studies which help quantify the disparity.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism, which evaluates more than 300 newspaper, magazine, and television stories each week, found that from June 9 (after Obama had wrapped up the Democratic nomination) until July 13, Obama was more prominently covered every single week. During one particular week, July 7–13, McCain was a significant presence in 48 percent of the stories—but Obama met that mark in 77 percent of the pieces. Similarly, the Tyndall Report, a media monitoring group, found that Obama received substantially more media attention.