- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2005

The press produced three times more negative stories about President Bush than about Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 campaign, says a study released yesterday.

“Criticism that George Bush got worse coverage than John Kerry is supported by the data,” said the District-based Project for Excellence in Journalism, which produced the 617-page study with affiliates from Columbia University and three other schools.

The group analyzed coverage in 16 newspapers, four nightly newscasts, three network morning news shows, nine cable news programs and nine online news sites during a four-week period last year.

The analysis found 36 percent of campaign stories about Mr. Bush were negative and 12 percent were negative for Mr. Kerry. Although 20 percent of the Bush stories were deemed positive, the study found 30 percent of the Kerry stories positive.

“Reporters and editors in national news organizations in particular feel the press has gone too easy on the Bush administration,” the study stated, noting that 55 percent of the national press said Bush coverage was not critical enough.

Only 9 percent of print and 8 percent of broadcast journalists called coverage of the Bush administration “too critical.” Among conservative journalists, 53 percent said Bush coverage was too critical; among liberal journalists, the figure was 3 percent.

Among national journalists, 38 percent said they could name an “especially liberal” news organization, while 82 percent said they could name a conservative news group. Fox News Channel led the way, cited by 69 percent of the respondents.

“Most liberals don’t see a liberal point of view,” the analysis found, noting that 24 percent of liberal journalists could name a liberal news outlet but 79 percent could name a conservative one. Among conservative journalists, 68 percent said they could readily name both a liberal and a conservative news group.

The analysis found a “values gap on social issues” between the public and the press: 91 percent of the journalists said belief in God was “not necessary to be moral” while 88 percent said homosexuality should be accepted by society. In the public, those figures were 40 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

“News people — especially national journalists — are more liberal and far less conservative than the general public,” the report said.

Among journalists from national print and broadcast news organizations, 34 percent described themselves as liberals; the figure is 20 percent in the general public. Only 7 percent of the national press say they’re conservative, compared with 33 percent in the public.

Between 1985 and 2004, the study reports, the number of Americans who felt news organizations were politically biased rose from 49 percent to 59 percent.

The complete report can be seen at www.stateofthemedia.org.

Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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