Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
In the varied field of 2012 presidential contenders, one candidate has endured more staggeringly disproportionate negative media coverage than any other: President Obama.
That’s according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. Pew found that during the past five months, the president received almost four times more negative coverage than positive coverage, 34 percent to 9 percent. Of the men and women running for the White House, only Newt Gingrich received a higher percentage of negative media coverage with 35 percent, although that figure was offset by positive coverage of roughly 15 percent.
Politico notes that at least some of the disparity between Obama’s coverage and that of his GOP rivals is a result of the news media covering “the president mostly as a president, not a candidate,” meaning that he also routinely takes top billing in stories about the faltering economy.
Still, the results appear to contradict the perception held by many conservatives that the media is willing to grant Obama greater leeway than his Republican challengers, particularly those candidates championed by the Tea Party and its like-minded allies.
Rick Perry can lay claim to the title of the most positively covered candidate, with a positive-negative coverage split of 32-20 – that despite the media fallout from the recent revelation of a racial slur on a sign at Perry’s family hunting camp. The Texan governor also received the most total media coverage of any of the Republican contenders.
Following Perry on the list of contenders who received the greatest percentage of positive coverage were two even bigger surprises: Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, both of whom received positive coverage 31 percent of the time. Palin (who managed to remain a GOP contender for months despite never convincing most people that she was serious about being a White House candidate) saw negative coverage 22 percent of the time, one point less than Bachmann.
Current GOP frontrunners Herman Cain and Mitt Romney took the number four and five spots with more balanced coverage. Cain received 28 percent positive and 23 percent negative coverage; Romney's coverage was 26 percent positive and 27 percent negative.
The New York Times highlights another key finding from the study: the GOP debates appear to be swaying media coverage of the candidates. For instance, Perry took a serious hit in the tone of coverage right around the time he was widely regarded as the loser of a FOX News debate on Sept. 22.
Pew relied on computer algorithms that were monitored by human researchers to analyze political content from more than 11,500 media outlets, based on their RSS feeds. The study focuses on coverage of the candidates between May 2 and October 9.
Another portion of the study examined the way 2012 candidates are faring in the blogosphere. Overall, researchers concluded that Republicans take much more negative heat from the hundreds of thousands of blogs studied than they do from “traditional” news outlets. However, Romney, Cain and, in particular Ron Paul, fared better among bloggers.