No punches have been pulled by either side during this year’s presidential campaign or by the media. A new study has found that media coverage for both President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney has been overwhelming negative, with Romney portrayed as an out-of-touch aristocrat, and Obama’s perceived failure in boosting the economy becoming a common topic. The report, released on Thursday by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, cited coverage by 50 different major news outlets, examined over a period of 10 weeks starting in May. According to the study, about 72 percent of the stories covering Obama were negative, while 71 percent of those following Romney were negative as well.
“The media are more of an enabler and a conduit for partisan rhetoric than we’ve ever seen before,” said Tom Rosenstiel, the director of the Project for Excellence. “It’s been happening steadily over time, and this year, it really jumped out at us as inexorable. And it helps explain why this campaign feels so negative.”
The director went on to cite the 2004 election as being similarly negative, as candidates campaigned in the midst of the Iraq war. “This year, the coverage is really a reflection of what the candidates and their surrogates are saying about each other every day,” Rosenstiel said.
Coverage regarding Obama most frequently revolved around economic issues, suggesting that the president’s polices have been ineffective in reversing the American recession. For Romney, stories challenging his past as a venture capitalist and his former firm Bain Capital have dominated his coverage, creating a poor public image. The study also found that stories reinforcing either candidate’s intentions as president or their platforms are scarce in comparison to the negative reports. Over 800 different stories from the major news outlets were used as the basis for the study.