Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

Update On Not Exactly 'Man Bites Dog'  | e-mail post

Last week I wrote "Not Exactly 'Man Bites Dog'" reporting on an Editor & Publisher article on the pro-Kerry media bias. At the time, I wrote:
At a very fundamental level, I think the media has had to stoop to this level because their editorial influence has been lost. No one really makes their decision based at all on what editors write in their endorsement. It's just another stat to be tallied in a political climate that has put the horserace far ahead of substantive policy discussion. Having been emasculated in this way, the media is forced to try to exert its waning influence in the only way it can, the actual creation and spinning of what at one time could have been called "the news."
I also said: "I personally cannot recall either in my own experience, or in historical reading, any election where the broader media seems so actively engaged in attempting to influence the outcome of the election." Apparently I was wrong, but since I was only 15 in 1984, I hope I can be forgiven.

The Washington Times reports on the truly astounding bias of the press this year, as quantified by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason Univeristy. The following is from the PDF release from CMPA:
Crazy for Kerry: John Kerry's total of 58 percent positive evaluations (and 42% negative) since Labor Day is the best press any general election candidate has received since 1980. George W. Bush has only 36 percent positive evaluations (and 64% negative) in the same period. In the 2000 general election evaluations of both Bush and Al Gore were about 2 to 1 negative.

Kerry’s October Surprise: Bolstered by good reviews of his debate performances, Kerry received a record-breaking 77 percent positive evaluations during October, compared to 34 percent positive for Bush.

Positive Press Not A Predictor: Until this year, record-holder was Walter Mondale with 56 percent positive evaluations in 1984. The worst press went to Ronald Reagan, who received only nine percent positive (91% negative) evaluations that year. But incumbents don’t always get bad press. Bill Clinton received 50 percent positive evaluations in 1996, compared to only 33 percent (67% negative) for Bob Dole.

Dems Get the Breaks: In the past seven elections since 1980, the Democratic candidate has gotten significantly better press in four - Kerry, Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and Mondale in 1984; the Republican has fared better in one - George H.W. Bush over Dukakis in 1988; and two have been about even -- Bush vs. Gore in 2000 and Carter vs. Reagan in 1980.

Negativity Reigns: The coverage has been mainly negative toward both parties. Ten out of the fourteen major party candidates have received over 60 percent negative evaluations, including all seven Republican candidates.
What is most amazing is the apparent inability of the press to look at anything strategically. Can you imagine if Mondale had won in 1984? He certainly would have scaled back Reagan's "reckless" defense spending. I wonder if the Soviet Union would still be around.

It's unfortunate, but not surprising, that the only other news outlet picking up on the story (at least the the CMPA lists) is the Washington Post, where it is buried in an article titled "Campaign '04, Bar Trivia '05." I can't understand how this counts as trivial in any way.

Hat tip to Captain's Quarters for picking up the Washington Times story.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Monday, November 01, 2004
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