Bush 'Battered' by Critical Press; Kerry Drew Less Negative Coverage, Analysis Finds

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 27, 2004 | Go to article overview

Bush 'Battered' by Critical Press; Kerry Drew Less Negative Coverage, Analysis Finds


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The press has "battered" President Bush this election season, according to a Project for Excellence in Journalism analysis of 817 print and broadcast stories that ran between Oct. 1 and Oct. 14.

Mr. Bush "suffered strikingly more negative press coverage than challenger John Kerry," according to the study, which will be released today.

"Overall, 59 percent of Bush-dominated stories were clearly negative in nature," while "just 25 percent of Kerry stories were decidedly negative," according to the study.

The District-based group was succinct in defining a negative tone, reasoning that if combined headlines and content contained statements that were at least two-to-one critical of the politician in question, the story was deemed negative.

Both print and broadcast news organizations were critical of Mr. Bush.

Newspapers were the hardest on the president: 68 percent of daily stories or editorials about Mr. Bush were classified as negative, compared with only 26 percent of the stories about Mr. Kerry.

More than half of network TV news reports criticized Mr. Bush, while just 17 percent of the stories about Mr. Kerry were negative.

"The tendency toward negative tone stands out because it suggests the press is prone to act as an enabler, accomplice or conduit for negative campaigning," the study stated, though it did not offer any explanation for "the marked discrepancy between Kerry and Bush" in the coverage.

The answer "is beyond the scope of this study and would require a larger examination of tone throughout the campaign," the group said. …

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