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Thread: Washington Post admits obvious pro-Obama slant

  1. #1

    Washington Post admits obvious pro-Obama slant

    [QUOTE]An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage
    By Deborah Howell
    Sunday, November 9, 2008; B06

    [B]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.[/B]

    My assistant, Jean Hwang, and I have been examining Post coverage since Nov. 11 of last year on issues, voters, fundraising, the candidates' backgrounds and horse-race stories on tactics, strategy and consultants. We also have looked at photos and Page 1 stories since Obama captured the nomination June 4.

    The count was lopsided, with 1,295 horse-race stories and 594 issues stories. The Post was deficient in stories that reported more than the two candidates trading jabs; readers needed articles, going back to the primaries, comparing their positions with outside experts' views. There were no broad stories on energy or science policy, and there were few on religion issues.

    Bill Hamilton, assistant managing editor for politics, said, "There are a lot of things I wish we'd been able to do in covering this campaign, but we had to make choices about what we felt we were uniquely able to provide our audiences both in Washington and on the Web. I don't at all discount the importance of issues, but we had a larger purpose, to convey and explain a campaign that our own David Broder described as the most exciting he has ever covered, a narrative that unfolded until the very end. I think our staff rose to the occasion."

    [B]The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces about McCain, 58, than there were about Obama, 32, and Obama got the editorial board's endorsement. The Post has several conservative columnists, but not all were gung-ho about McCain.[/B]

    Stories and photos about Obama in the news pages outnumbered those devoted to McCain. Reporters, photographers and editors found the candidacy of Obama, the first African American major-party nominee, more newsworthy and historic. Journalists love the new; McCain, 25 years older than Obama, was already well known and had more scars from his longer career in politics.

    The number of Obama stories since Nov. 11 was 946, compared with McCain's 786. Both had hard-fought primary campaigns, but Obama's battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton was longer, and the numbers reflect that.

    McCain clinched the GOP nomination on March 4, three months before Obama won his. From June 4 to Election Day, the tally was Obama, 626 stories, and McCain, 584. Obama was on the front page 176 times, McCain, 144 times; 41 stories featured both.

    [B]Our survey results are comparable to figures for the national news media from a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. It found that from June 9, when Clinton dropped out of the race, until Nov. 2, 66 percent of the campaign stories were about Obama compared with 53 percent for McCain;[/B] some stories featured both. The project also calculated that in that time, 57 percent of the stories were about the horse race and 13 percent were about issues.

    Counting from June 4, Obama was in 311 Post photos and McCain in 282. Obama led in most categories. Obama led 133 to 121 in pictures more than three columns wide, 178 to 161 in smaller pictures, and 164 to 133 in color photos. In black and white photos, the nominees were about even, with McCain at 149 and Obama at 147. On Page 1, they were even at 26 each. Post photo and news editors were surprised by my first count on Aug. 3, which showed a much wider disparity, and made a more conscious effort at balance afterward.

    Some readers complain that coverage is too poll-driven. They're right, but it's not going to change. The Post's polling was on the mark, and in some cases ahead of the curve, in focusing on independent voters, racial attitudes, low-wage voters, the shift of African Americans' support from Clinton to Obama and the rising importance of economic issues. The Post and its polling partner ABC News include 50 to 60 issues questions in every survey instead of just horse-race questions, so public attitudes were plumbed as well.

    The Post had a hard-working team on the campaign. Special praise goes to Dan Balz, the best, most level-headed, incisive political reporter and analyst in newspapers. His stories and "Dan Balz's Take" on washingtonpost.com were fair, penetrating and on the mark. His mentor, David S. Broder, was as sharp as ever.

    Michael Dobbs, the Fact Checker, also deserves praise for parsing campaign rhetoric for the overblown or just flat wrong. Howard Kurtz's Ad Watch was a sharp reality check.

    The Post's biographical pieces, especially the first ones -- McCain by Michael Leahy and Obama by David Maraniss -- were compelling. Maraniss demystified Obama's growing-up years; the piece on his mother and grandparents was a great read. Leahy's first piece on McCain's father and grandfather, both admirals, told me where McCain got his maverick ways as a kid -- right from the two old men.

    [B]But Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got, especially of his undergraduate years, his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who was convicted this year of influence-peddling in Chicago. The Post did nothing on Obama's acknowledged drug use as a teenager.[/B]

    The Post had good coverage of voters, mainly by Krissah Williams Thompson and Kevin Merida. Anne Hull's stories from Florida, Michigan and Liberty University, and Wil Haygood's story from central Montana brought readers into voters' lives. Jose Antonio Vargas's pieces about campaigns and the Internet were standouts.

    [B]One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama's running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission[/B]. However, I do not agree with those readers who thought The Post did only hatchet jobs on her. There were several good stories on her, the best on page 1 by Sally Jenkins on how Palin grew up in Alaska.

    In early coverage, I wasn't a big fan of the long-running series called "The Gurus" on consultants and important people in the campaigns. The Post has always prided itself on its political coverage, and profiles of the top dogs were probably well read by political junkies. But I thought the series was of no practical use to readers. While there were some interesting pieces in The Frontrunners series, none of them told me anything about where the candidates stood on any issue.

    Deborah Howell can be reached at 202-334-7582 or [email]ombudsman@washpost.com[/email].[/QUOTE]


    At least they have the balls to admit they are a liberal rag. ;)

  2. #2
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    [QUOTE=pauliec;2852295]At least they have the balls to admit they are a liberal rag. ;)[/QUOTE]

    Of course this all comes after their horse won. A day late and a dollar short.

  3. #3
    I'm waiting for the similar article to appear in the Washington Times.

  4. #4
    [QUOTE=fukushimajin;2853361]I'm waiting for the similar article to appear in the Washington Times.[/QUOTE]

    And I'm waiting for similar articles from the LA Times, the NY Times, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, etc.

  5. #5
    Regardless of whether or not the Post had a pro-Obana slant (my sense is it did), the idea that you can quantify that slant by looking at the numbers of positive and negative stories is nonsense, because it doesn't account for reality.

    Somebody is going to run a better campaign than someone else, and they are going to get better coverage as a result. Obama clearly ran a superior campaign: He had better organization, better messaging and clearer policy prescriptions.

    McCain had none of that, and literally bounced from stunt to stunt, which is a major reasons some Post columnists like George Will, who presumably are inclined to support a Republican, ripped him so often. Beyond that, there was the Palin implosion, a source of tons of negative coverage that most would agree was deserved.

    So, anyhow, yes, the Post may have had a slant. But, no, the tally of stories is not a reliable indicator of that.

  6. #6
    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2853495]Regardless of whether or not the Post had a pro-Obana slant (my sense is it did), the idea that you can quantify that slant by looking at the numbers of positive and negative stories is nonsense, because it doesn't account for reality.

    Somebody is going to run a better campaign than someone else, and they are going to get better coverage as a result. Obama clearly ran a superior campaign: He had better organization, better messaging and clearer policy prescriptions.

    McCain had none of that, and literally bounced from stunt to stunt, which is a major reasons some Post columnists like George Will, who presumably are inclined to support a Republican, ripped him so often. Beyond that, there was the Palin implosion, a source of tons of negative coverage that most would agree was deserved.

    So, anyhow, yes, the Post may have had a slant. But, no, the tally of stories is not a reliable indicator of that.[/QUOTE]

    What does this have to do with story tallies?

    [QUOTE]But Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got, especially of his undergraduate years, his start in Chicago and his relationship with Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who was convicted this year of influence-peddling in Chicago...

    One gaping hole in coverage involved Joe Biden, Obama's running mate. When Gov. Sarah Palin was nominated for vice president, reporters were booking the next flight to Alaska. Some readers thought The Post went over Palin with a fine-tooth comb and neglected Biden. They are right; it was a serious omission...[/QUOTE]

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2853517]What does this have to do with story tallies?[/QUOTE]

    Well, nothing. As I said, there probably was some bias there.

    I will say though that, in general, the Rezko story got plenty of attention during the primary. What ultimately killed it was that his trial came and went with not a single allegation of any wrongdoing by Obama. In the end, it was an unsavory association, not any sort of personal conduct, and those stories are always less important and less covered.

    Palin's probe in Alaska was about how she allegedly misues her office, so of course it would get more attention.
    Last edited by nuu faaola; 11-11-2008 at 12:06 PM.

  8. #8
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2853425]And I'm waiting for similar articles from the LA Times, the NY Times, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, etc.[/QUOTE]

    Yes, it is all the fault of the media -- the Republican party should keep doing what its doing and everyone will just come around eventually.

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=fukushimajin;2853541]Yes, it is all the fault of the media -- the Republican party should keep doing what its doing and everyone will just come around eventually.[/QUOTE]

    Did I say that? I don't think I said that.

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2853532]Well, nothing. As I said, there probably was some bias there.

    I will say though that, in general, the Rezko story got plenty of attention during the primary. What ultimately killed it was that his trial came and went with not a single allegation of any wrongdoing by Obama. In the end, it was an unsavory association, not any sort of personal conduct, and those stories are always less important and less covered.

    Palin's probe in Alaska was about how she allegedly misues her office, so of course it would get more attention.[/QUOTE]

    You have to admit, Biden was absolutely ignored by [B]everyone[/B].

  11. #11
    Note my edited response above.


    I can't speak for the Post because --while I read a lot of stuff online, I don't see the paper as a whole daily-- but the idea that Obama's background as a whole wasn't investigated is just silly.

    There was clearly a gap in coverage of Biden v. Palin, which is inevitable when you pick someone who has been around forever versus a fresh face no one knows anything about.

    This was a huge advnatge for Palin early on, because she received tons of attention most of it glowing, awhile Biden was just ignored. Once Plain stumbled, however, the tables turned.

    If McCain had picked Romney, or someoene else who'd been around forever, he would have been covered like Biden.

  12. #12
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    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2853495]Regardless of whether or not the Post had a pro-Obana slant (my sense is it did)[/QUOTE]

    You're a regular bloodhound there, Nuu.

  13. #13
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2853549]You have to admit, Biden was absolutely ignored by [B]everyone[/B].[/QUOTE]

    Absolutely.

    That's generally what happens when you pick someone who has been around forever. Cheney didn't get all that much attention in 2000. And Lieberman --after the original wave of stories about him being the first Jew on a ticket-- wasn't much of a focal point either. Neither was Jack Kemp in 1996.

    Fresher faces always generate more excitement and more scrutiny. Older faces are boring. That's jyst how these things typically go.

  14. #14
    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2853551]

    If McCain had picked Romney, or someoene else who'd been around forever, he would have been covered like Biden.[/QUOTE]

    There's no way you can say that for sure. Biden was gaffe after gaffe -- hamming it up to a bunch of gun enthusiasts, saying that FDR went on TV during the Great Depression, openly criticizing some of the ads that Obama approved, and not to mention the unflattering things he said about Obama back during the early debates when he still ran for President. It wasn't just that he was covered less than Palin, he was roundly ignored by everyone, especially when he made public mistakes.

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2853559]Absolutely.

    That's generally what happens when you pick someone who has been around forever. Cheney didn't get all that much attention in 2000. And Lieberman --after the original wave of stories about him being the first Jew on a ticket-- wasn't much of a focal point either. Neither was Jack Kemp in 1996.

    Fresher faces always generate more excitement and more scrutiny. Older faces are boring. That's jyst how these things typically go.[/QUOTE]

    That is pretty obvious....but it doesn't fit the scheme of "Palin-Persecuting". That poor little tender flower was humiliated on a national level.

  16. #16
    Nuu you're killing the guys in this thread. The whining is unbelievable. To actually complain that Obama wasn't examined by the media and that Biden was ignored is just so childish.

    Sure sure Biden saying j o b s is a 3 letter word is the same as Palin saying she doesn't even know what the VP is supposed to do - oh yes she can't wait to get to the Senate and take charge.

  17. #17
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2853575]There's no way you can say that for sure. Biden was gaffe after gaffe -- hamming it up to a bunch of gun enthusiasts, saying that FDR went on TV during the Great Depression, openly criticizing some of the ads that Obama approved, and not to mention the unflattering things he said about Obama back during the early debates when he still ran for President. It wasn't just that he was covered less than Palin, he was roundly ignored by everyone, especially when he made public mistakes.[/QUOTE]

    There's a dynamic there that's unqiue to Biden's brand: He's been known for decades as a really smart guy who occasionally says really dumb things. That's just who he is, everyone knows it, and, as a result, when he does it, it's not really surprising at all, and hence not as newsworthy.

    But, beyond that, there was also a fundamental difference between the types of gaffes made by Biden and Palin: None of the goofy stuff Biden did --telling wheelchair guy to stand, talking about FDR on TV-- cast any doubt about whether he could do the job/ Everyone knows he knows his stuff re: foreign policy. (Much in the same way McCain got a pass when he confused Sunnis and Shias and had to let Joe Lieberman correct him about AQ and Iran.)

    Palin's gaffes --not knowing the Bush Doctrine, flubbing the most basic economic questions, claiming Alaska's proximity to Russia as her main foreign policy credential-- cast direct doubt on her readiness for office. Unlike Biden, she had no demonstrated track record of knowledge or achievement to fall back on.

    That's why her mistakes were ultimately a bigger deal.

  18. #18
    [QUOTE=Queens Jet Fan;2853638]Nuu you're killing the guys in this thread. The whining is unbelievable. To actually complain that Obama wasn't examined by the media and that Biden was ignored is just so childish.

    Sure sure Biden saying j o b s is a 3 letter word is the same as Palin saying she doesn't even know what the VP is supposed to do - oh yes she can't wait to get to the Senate and take charge.[/QUOTE]

    Huh? I posted an interesting article and am discussing the conclusions with nuu. No whining, and no "killing" that I'm aware of.

    Childish, eh?

  19. #19
    [QUOTE=nuu faaola;2853647]There's a dynamic there that's unqiue to Biden's brand: He's been known for decades as a really smart guy who occasionally says really dumb things. That's just who he is, everyone knows it, and, as a result, when he does it, it's not really surprising at all, and hence not as newsworthy.

    But, beyond that, there was also a fundamental difference between the types of gaffes made by Biden and Palin: None of the goofy stuff Biden did --telling wheelchair guy to stand, talking about FDR on TV-- cast any doubt about whether he could do the job/ Everyone knows he knows his stuff re: foreign policy. (Much in the same way McCain got a pass when he confused Sunnis and Shias and had to let Joe Lieberman correct him about AQ and Iran.)

    Palin's gaffes --not knowing the Bush Doctrine, flubbing the most basic economic questions, claiming Alaska's proximity to Russia as her main foreign policy credential-- cast direct doubt on her readiness for office. Unlike Biden, she had no demonstrated track record of knowledge or achievement to fall back on.

    That's why her mistakes were ultimately a bigger deal.[/QUOTE]

    It's true that Biden's long history gave him a free pass in the eyes of the public. That's interesting, that could be another reason why Obama chose him. I never thought of that.

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2853672]It's true that Biden's long history gave him a free pass in the eyes of the public. That's interesting, that could be another reason why Obama chose him. I never thought of that.[/QUOTE]

    I think Obama had the luxury of having supporters who were already excited about him, so he was able to pick a veep to placate the doubters (namely the white-working class Hillary voters in Ohio and PA, and seniors in Florida). He didn't need to add excitement to the ticket like Kerry did, so he could pick more of a background figure who would policy credentials and experience to the ticket.

    McCain's base was not as enthusiastic about him, so he felt the need to pick a veep that would be exciting to that group.

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