New Op-ed at Fox News: Media Coverage of Palin and Biden
First impressions count a lot. The media coverage this last week introduced the Republican and, to a much lesser extent, the Democratic Vice Presidential nominees to the American people. The coverage not only tells us something about how people will view the candidates, it also tells us something about the media and the parties themselves.
Obviously, the media’s coverage may reflect just the information it is given, not necessarily bias. Negative coverage of a candidate may mean either that there are some real problems with the candidate or that the other party is raising concerns that the media is merely passing on to their readers. A CNN headline conveys this point quite well as some Democrats came out immediately on Friday morning saying that “Palin could be a ‘disaster.’” Also on Friday, Barack Obama “backed away” within hours from a campaign press release that Politico described as “ripping” into Palin.
By contrast, the ad the Republicans released immediately after Joe Biden’s nomination took a different tack. It pointed to statements Biden had made disparaging Obama during the primaries and extolling the virtues of John McCain.
The announcements of both Joe Biden and Sarah Palin generated massive amounts of news coverage. A simple Google news search shows that there were 26,572 stories the Saturday that Obama told the country that Biden was his vice presidential pick. McCain’s pick of Palin generated 11,293 stories.
What is interesting is the theme of these stories. For vice presidential nominees, I searched a whole range of terms to see how the media described the nominees: experience, abortion, conservative, moderate, liberal, safe, risky, etc., using Google News searches. (Lexis-Nexis yielded roughly similar relative rankings.)
For Biden, the top ten terms found were: experience (excluding "executive experience") (69%), abortion (21%), liberal (11%), safe (7%), long-winded(5%), moderate (5%), plagiarism (3%), gun-control (2%), executive experience (2%), and exaggerate or exaggerated (dealing with exaggerated claims he made about his college grades and accomplishments that helped end his 1988 race) (1%).
For Palin, the top ten were: conservative (49%), abortion (44%), brother-in-law (picking up claims that she improperly tried to get her ex-brother-in-law fired) (17%), corruption and oil (17%), risky or risks or risk (16%),glass ceiling (13%), Quayle (10%), exciting (9%), inexperience OR "lack experience" OR "limited experience" (8%), and bold (8%). . . .
Continue reading it here.