Politics and the Media   /   Summer 2008   /    Articles

The Negative Effect: News, Politics, and the Public

Thomas E. Patterson

I'll words followed John McCain as he traveled the campaign trail in 2007. The press was critical of nearly every aspect of his campaign, from his issue positions to his fundraising to his stump speeches. Negative statements about McCain in the news outnumbered positive ones by nearly four to one.11x Project for Excellence in Journalism, “The Invisible Primary—Invisible No Longer” (29 October 2007):http://journalism.org/node/8187. To Republicans, McCain’s negative coverage might have been seen as just another bashing by the liberal media. Ever since Edith Efron charged in The News Twisters that the television network coverage was “strongly biased against the Republican-conservative-right axis of opinion,” Republicans have believed that the media favor the Democrats.22xEdith Efron, The News Twisters (Los Angeles: Nash, 1971) 47.

However, if the press has a Democratic bias, why did it also bash Hillary Clinton? Her coverage was also very negative and in some ways more damning than McCain’s.33xProject for Excellence in Journalism.

If Clinton had not had positive coverage for her high standing in the polls and her fundraising, she would have received almost no favorable coverage. The press highlighted her vulnerabilities, from her tactical positioning to her controlled demeanor.

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