Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
He had an official pre-presidential logo and a dramatic custom-built dais - with columns - even before he arrived at the White House. President Obama drew instant love from the press, who were captivated by the image before them.
Mr. Obama garnered more coverage - and more positive coverage - than former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan during their comparable times in office, according to a study released Monday by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA).
Much of the Obama coverage was breathlessly positive, even melodramatic. But then something happened.
The press stopped covering President Obama the historical figure, and started covering President Obama the politician. It took a few months, but many journalists started returning to their old critical ways, and the coverage went negative, said CMPA Director Robert Lichter, who conducted the research in conjunction with George Mason and Chapman universities.
Barack Obama had his honeymoon, but now the party's over. He got all the spectacular stuff when he was just beginning. Still, there's a silver lining for Mr. Obama - his coverage would be envied by other recent presidents, Mr. Lichter added.
Indeed. The analysis was based on 3,859 news stories that appeared on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, plus in the New York Times, Time and Newsweek from Jan. 20, 2009, through Dec. 31, plus a separate analysis of 1,728 stories on the Fox News Channel Special Report.
During the entire first calendar year of his administration, Mr. Obama's mainstream media coverage was almost perfectly balanced - he rated 49 percent positive and 51 percent negative evaluations by sources and reporters.
That's pretty good compared to his predecessors during their first 12 months in the White House. Previous CMPA studies found that Mr. Bush received only 23 percent positive evaluations in 2001; Mr. …