Obama favored by media bias

November 19, 2008 — by Vijay Menon and Karthik Sreedhara

In the last weeks of the presidential election, network TV stories on Democratic candidate Barack Obama were 36 percent positive and 29 percent negative; by contrast, coverage of Republican candidate John McCain was a whopping 57 percent negative and 14 percent positive, according to a new study published by the Pew Research Center.

This perceived bias has caused many to question whether the media had an unfair influence in this election. The statistics clearly point in this direction. According to a Harvard University analysis, 72 percent of Americans said that the press is politically biased in favor of liberals.

ABC News columnist Michael Malone said that the bias in this election was not only “bewildering, but appalling.”

This bias most likely influenced voters unfairly during the crucial election campaign. With the country’s economic future at stake and two wars to finish abroad, the media should have shown greater responsibility in portraying both candidates as fairly as possible. Though news stations as a whole have the right to endorse candidates, reporters should be balanced when presenting information.

It seems most Americans would agree. Pew Research polls showed that 70 percent of Americans believed that journalists wanted to see Obama win on election day, and only 8 percent believed that the media showed no perceivable bias in which candidate they preferred for the presidency.

Obama’s links to sketchy figures such as former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers or the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright and organizations like ACORN often seemed to receive less coverage than more trivial issues such as Sarah Palin’s wardrobe and the now infamous Katie Couric interview. The recent financial crisis only added to McCain’s troubles with the media.

Even the entertainment industry jumped on board, namely Saturday Night Live, rolling out their own biases with several skits mocking Palin and McCain, but few involving Obama and his running mate Joe Biden.

Whether it be the news industry or the entertainment industry, the media should have shown better judgment. The media’s job in an election is to attempt in good faith to provide the most fair and balanced view of the candidates possible and to present both sides of every issue. In this election, the media lost sight of its essential purpose. It failed to live up to its standards, and John McCain suffered as a result.

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