Reputable Think Tank Finds Media Tougher on Obama

Since the close of the Democratic primary, Senator Barack Obama has received 166 minutes of air time as opposed to Senator John McCain who received 67 minutes, according to the Tydall Report. But quantity does not necessarily spell out quality, argues Dr. S. Robert Lichter, founder of Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University.

According to James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2008:

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) surveyed both conservative and liberal media sources, including the “Special Report with Brit Hume,” “O’Reilly Show” and “Fox News.” It found that “Special Report” was tougher than the other Fox shows, constituting 79% of the statements about Barack Obama to be negative, compared to the 61% of the statements about John McCain to be negative.

CMPA was founded in 1985, and considers itself non-partisan and nonprofit. It has published numerous reports on the media which are used in U.S Congresspersons. Although it is self-described non-partisan, there are accusations to the contrary. Surprisingly, it comes from liberals.

In the same article James Rainey continues,

It might be tempting to discount the latest findings by Lichter’s researchers. But this guy is anything but a liberal toady.

In 2006, conservative cable showmen Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly had Lichter, a onetime Fox News contributor, on their programs. They heralded his findings in the congressional midterm election: that the networks were giving far more positive coverage to the Democrats.

More proof of the liberal domination of the media, Beck and O’Reilly declared.

Now the same researchers have found something less palatable to those conspiracy theorists.

In addition to Lichter’s ties to Fox News, the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) challenges the CMPA’s nonpartisan claim based on the argument that much of its funding comes from conservative sources.