BY George E. Curry
News media coverage of President Obama is much more negative than stories about each of his Republican challengers, netting him almost four negative stories for every positive one.
That’s the conclusion of an extensive study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. According to the report, titled “The Media Primary,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry received the most coverage and was subject to the most favorable coverage until several weeks ago, when he was overtaken in that category by Herman Cain.
“One man running for president has suffered the most unrelenting negative treatment of all, the study found: Barack Obama. Though covered largely as president rather than a candidate, negative assessments of Obama have outweighed positive by a ratio of almost 4-1,” the report stated. “Those assessments of the president have also been substantially more negative than positive every one of the 23 weeks studied. And in no week during those five months was more than 10 percent of the coverage about the president positive in tone.”
The analysis of coverage in 11,500 news media outlets was conducted from May 2-Oct. 9. While 57 percent of Obama’s coverage was considered neutral, 9 percent was positive and 34 percent was negative. At the other end of the spectrum, 32 percent of Rick Perry’s coverage was rated positive and 20 percent considered negative.
Every Republican candidate still in the race except Newt Gingrich had favorable coverage at least double that of President Obama. In the cases of Michele Bachman and Herman Cain, it was triple the positive coverage of Obama and nearly triple for Republican front-runner Mitt Romney.
Only Gingrich had a higher percentage of negative coverage than Obama with 35 percent, just one percentage point higher than the president. However, Gingrich’s favorable coverage stood at 15 percent, six points higher than Obama’s.
Interestingly, although Perry did not enter the race until August – three months after the study began – he received more coverage than any other candidate. Moreover, even after poor performances in the Republican presidential debates, he received the most flattering coverage over the period studied – 32 percent positive, 20 percent negative and the remainder neutral.
Coverage of Cain was 28 percent positive – two points higher than Romney – and 23 percent negative, which was four points lower than Romney’s negative coverage. Cain’s recent coverage was more positive than his overall numbers reflect because prior to his winning the Florida straw poll, he was largely ignored and received more negative coverage than in recent weeks.
The sour economy and Republican attacks are responsible for much of President Obama’s negative coverage, according