An exhaustive, eight-year Media Research Center study of the Big Three TV networks’ coverage of Barack Obama shows that their favorable spin on the Democrat gave him his margin of victory in the primaries, according to MRC president Brent Bozell.
The MRC notes that this year saw the closest nomination contest in a generation, with just one-tenth of a percentage point — 41,622 votes out of more than 35 million cast — separating Obama from Hillary Clinton when the Democratic primaries ended in June.
“But Barack Obama had a crucial advantage over his rivals this year: the support of the national media, especially the three broadcast networks,” an MRC report on the study states.
“At every step of his national political career, network reporters showered the Illinois Senator with glowing media coverage, building him up as a political celebrity and exhibiting little interest in investigating his past associations or exploring the controversies that could have threatened his campaign.”
The Alexandria, Va.-based MRC logged every story, sound bite, and mention of Obama on ABC, CBS and NBC evening news telecasts from his first appearance on a network broadcast in May 2000 through the end of the Democratic primaries this past June — a total of 1,365 stories.
Among the key findings:The three broadcast networks ran 462 positive stories about Obama — 34 percent of the total — compared with only 70 stories (5 percent) that were critical.NBC Nightly News was the most lopsided, with 179 pro-Obama reports, more than 10 times the number of anti-Obama stories, 17. The CBS Evening News ran 156 stories in favor of Obama, compared to just 21 anti-Obama reports. ABC’s World News was the least slanted, but still tilted roughly four-to-one in Obama’s favor — 127 positive stories to 32 negative reports.Barack Obama received his best press “when it mattered most, as he debuted on the national scene,” the MRC report observed. All three networks lavished him with praise when he was the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic Convention, and did not produce a single negative story about Obama prior to the start of his presidential campaign in early 2007.Obama’s relationship with convicted influence peddler Tony Rezko was the subject of only two full network reports, one each on ABC and NBC, and was mentioned in just 15 other stories. Also, CBS and NBC initially downplayed controversial statements from Obama’s long-time pastor Jeremiah Wright.Obama’s best press of this year came after he won the North Carolina primary on May 6. After that, 43 percent of stories were favorable to Obama, compared to just 1 percent that were critical.The networks referred to Obama as a "liberal" only 14 times in four years, while on twice as many occasions reporters referred to him as either a "rock star," "rising star," or "superstar" during the same period.Of 147 average citizens who expressed an on-camera opinion about Obama, 114 were pro-Obama, compared to just 28 that offered a negative opinion, with the remaining five offering a mixed opinion.
Brent Bozell said in a statement: “This study proves emphatically and without question that the Big Three networks had a horse in this year’s Democratic primary race. And that with their wall-to-wall, 24-hour daily assistance, NBC, ABC and CBS provided Sen. Barack Obama’s margin of victory.
“As the liberal media’s ardor with Sen. Hillary Clinton evaporated, so too did the inevitability of her victory. The press fixated their infatuated gazes on Sen. Obama, and afforded him the crucial coverage and support he needed to win.”
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