About that new media study on Obama's press coverage

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The one Howard Kurtz mentioned in his column Monday. It was released this week by the Center for Media and Public Affairs and this was the angle CMPA played up:

The media have given President Obama more coverage than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined and more positive coverage than either received at this point in their presidencies, according to a new study by researchers at George Mason and Chapman Universities.

CMPA makes no conclusions about the uptick in Obama coverage, but it's no stretch to assume conservatives will seize upon it to claim that the press has been rewarding Obama with far more press attention than reporters gave to Bush in early 2001.

Here's the thing about that: Bush aides in January and February wanted less press coverage for the new president. They claimed Bill Clinton had been overexposed and wanted to draw the curtain back for Bush. WH aides Mary Matalin told the Washington Post in April 2001, that Clinton had talked too much--"[he] would just get there and talk about anything, any time, and place"--and that Bush would be more "efficient" in the way he made news."

As I noted earlier this year:

What a coincidence. The White House wanted less coverage and scrutiny from the press in 2001 (when Bush often appeared unsure of himself in public settings), and the GOP White House got less coverage and scrutiny.

So the media's lack of early Bush presidency coverage was not a sign of disdain. It was a sign that the press was, from the get-go, taking its orders from the GOP WH.

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