Archive - 2008
An article titled "An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage" in tomorrow's Washington Post by their ombudsmen Deborah Howell reveals the following:
The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.
In her surveys Howell examined the Post's coverage for the time periods since last November and since Obama locked up the nomination last June. She compared the frequency of "horse-race stories" versus stories that actually examined the issues. She compared the number of op-ed articles praising or criticizing one candidate or the other. She also looked at the total number of articles about each candidate and the number of times they appeared in photos.
A study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (link) concluded:
The media coverage of the race for president has not so much cast Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed John McCain in a substantially negative one, according to a new study of the media since the two national political conventions ended.
Press treatment of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, but not markedly so.
But coverage of McCain has been heavily unfavorableâ€”and has become more so over time. In the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, unfavorable stories about McCain outweighed favorable ones by a factor of more than three to oneâ€”the most unfavorable of all four candidatesâ€”according to the study by the Pew Research Centerâ€™s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
There are a few things that are interesting to me about these studies. When I think about this discussion that compares unequal number of stories about the candidates (i.e., comparisons of how newsworthy they were) and that compares the unequal amount of negative coverage, if I interpret the inequalities as bias I am assuming that the unbiased state was equal coverage (i.e., both candidates were equally newsworthy and of equal interest to readers and that the two campaigns deserved equal amounts of negative attention). Of course, this assumption that equal coverage is the unbiased state is not necessarily true. As the Pew study acknowledged:
Since the end of August, the two rivals have been in a virtual dead heat in the amount of attention paid, and when vice presidential candidates are added to the mix the Republican ticket has the edge. This is a striking contrast to the pre-convention period, when Obama enjoyed nearly 50% more coverage.
Much of the increased attention for McCain derived from actions by the senator himself, actions that, in the end, generated mostly negative assessments.
Maybe McCain received more negative coverage because he deserved more negative coverage. Even if I agree that the media coverage focused disproportionately on Obama, it's quite ironic that the McCain campaign itself did the same thing in its adsâ€¦focusing more on reasons why Obama was a bad candidate than why McCain was a good one. This was illustrated by the word clouds from the two campaign web sites back in August (link):
Update: Just to be clear, I think there was an Obama tilt among the media. I think there was also a tilt in reader interest in Obama (both negative and positive) which is a partial justification for imbalance. On the whole, as professionals, the media probably should have maintained more balance in amount of coverage and positive/negative scrutiny. I just don't think that the proper balance was necessarily equal coverage.
From conservative writer Ross Douthat (link):
...Obama has just been elected President of a nation in which he could have been bought and sold as a slave just seven generations ago. I don't think there are any words adequate to the occasion of America electing its first black President, so I'll just say this: This may be a bleak day for the Republican Party and for conservatism, but come what may in the years ahead, it's a great day for our country. Barack Obama deserves congratulations, tonight, but so does the nation he's about to govern: We've come a long, long way.
Like I said the other day, I'm feeling pretty good about Obama's chances Tuesday but will be pleasantly surprised if he's elected. That said, it looks like there may be a fantastic opportunity upcoming for many Christians to demonstrate their submission to Christ and the teaching of his apostle Paul to pray for Obama and give him respect and honor.
1 Timothy 2:1-2
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyon - for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
I doubt the average Christian had warm, fuzzy feelings for the emperor when Paul wrote those words to the Romans.
Bonus reading material:
Last Saturday marked the end of the flag football and soccer seasons. Coaching flag football was OK, but we weren't sad to be done. We also went to Trunk or Treat at church. This is the first year we participated in that because previously they had it on Halloween, and we wanted to be in our neighborhood instead. After the candy grab, we went in the fellowship hall for additional snacks. Finn was running around (like he's been told a million tops not to do) and slipped and fell and hit his head on the hard floor. After we got home, Lisa ended up taking him to the emergency room because he was complaining of blurry vision in one eye. It turned out that everything was OK.
Here are some photos from football and of the costumed boys.