Lots of folks are talking about the broad, new Project for Excellence in Journalism study about the fall's campaign coverage that concludes coverage of John McCain had been decidedly more negative than the Barack Obama coverage in the last six weeks.
According to the study of mainstream media, 57% of print and broadcast stories about the GOP nominee were negative, compared to 14 that were positive.
As Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post notes, that imbalance likely reflects the fact that McCain's campaign has suffered drastically this fall, falling behind by double digits in some major polls. In other words, when a campaign craters, the corresponding coverage is not going to be pretty.
“Winning in politics begets winning coverage,” the study concluded. Makes sense, right?
Than how do we explain this additional conclusion from the study: “McCain's numbers are almost identical to what we saw eight years ago for Democrat Al Gore.” [Emphasis added.]
Somebody alert Bob Somerby, because this is just amazing. John's McCain campaign has, according to the polls and even conservative pundits, been going through a slow-motion wreck for the last month. (i.e. Free fall?) And yet his press coverage is “almost identical” that of Al Gore in 2000.
It's amazing because what was Gore doing at this point in 2000? He was basically running dead even with George Bush, and in the process of winning virtually every toss-up state come Election Day.
See how that correlation between performance and coverage disappeared for Gore? He was performing just as well as his opponent (and light-years better than McCain today), yet Gore got saddled with kind of coverage usually assigned to the pronounced loser.