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May 31, 2012 2:16 PM Romney, Obama, and Media Bias

By John Sides

So this Politico story by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen is making the rounds.  How about we move beyond the claims and counter-claims of Democrats and Republicans to some actual data?  The Project for Excellence in Journalism has been tracking the tone of news coverage since the summer of 2011.  More about their data and methodology is here.

This is the tone of coverage for Obama and Romney through the first week of May (click to enlarge):

What this shows is that every point in the past 10 months, Obama has received more negative coverage than positive coverage.  The tone of Romney coverage has shifted depending on primary campaign events, but, as of the end of April, positive coverage still outweighed negative coverage.  At that point, Romney received about as much positive coverage as Obama received negative coverage.

Now, these data don’t speak to the specific subject matter of the Politico story, which focuses on a couple of stories about Romney that aired recently in the New York Times and Washington Post.  But, in the news media as a whole, the PEJ data suggest that there hasn’t been “blatant bias” toward Obama.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.
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