The Pew Research Center this week released findings of a sweeping and interesting analysis of media coverage of the early presidential campaign, findings likely to surprise those who think that the media coddles the incumbent president.
You can read a snapshot and click through to the full study here.
Or I can tell you about it.
Pew tracked reports from more than 10,000 news outlets from the early May through Oct. 9. It measured not only the amount of coverage giving to those running for president, it also assessed the tone of the coverage: positive, neutral and negative.
The best coverage during the period was garnered by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Pew says Perry got "positive" coverage 32 percent of the time, compared with "negative" coverage 20 percent of the time. The rest was "neutral."
I expect that ratio changed following the GOP debate at Dartmouth on Oct. 11 during which Perry seemed mostly asleep at the switch.
But the real stunner (for many) is that Pew found President Obama got the worst positive-to-negative ratio of all candidates, only 9 percent positive and 34 percent negative.
The candidate with the second worst ratio was Newt Gingrich: 15 percent positive, 35 percent negative. No real surprise. But Michele Bachmann, no doubt owing to her early win in the Iowa straw poll, came in on the plus side: 31 percent positive, 23 percent negative.
Also interesting was the total amount of coverage given to each GOP candidate during the period in question. Remember, though, the GOP race is very fluid and these numbers only reflect the race to Oct. 9.
Perry led the pack with 17 percent of all campaign stories. He was followed by Mitt Romney (13 percent); Bachmann, (10 percent); Sarah Palin and Newt (both 7 percent); the now-gone Tim Pawlenty (5 percent); Jon Hunstman (3 percent); and Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul (all 2 percent).
Clearly, the Cain stat is now very different. But Pew reports the tone of his coverage during the period was 28 percent positive, 23 percent negative, 49 percent nuetral, pretty balanced given this was a time he was largely ignored.
Pew's research is widely respected. Its Project for Excellence in Journalism (and no cracks about where in America is there ANY excellence in journalism) provides valuable insight into the workings of the media. So I figured I'd share.