Network broadcasters´ once-positive view of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is turning increasingly tougher.
Mr. Obama is getting more negative coverage than his Republican rival on network evening news shows, according to a study released Monday by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA).
But broadcasters were not all that kind to Republican John McCain either.
Almost three quarters - 72 percent - of recent stories about Mr. Obama featured on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News' "Special Reports" were negative, the study found, compared with 57 percent that were critical of Mr. McCain.
"Obama replaced McCain as the media´s favorite candidate after New Hampshire. But now the networks are voting 'no' on both candidates," said CMPA director Robert Lichter.
His days spent wooing voters in the Granite State could produce a little nostalgia in Mr. Obama. The primary season was definitely a honeymoon period for him, the research found.
"This is a major turnaround since McCain and Obama emerged as front-runners in the early primaries. From the New Hampshire primary on January 8 until Hillary Clinton dropped out on June 7, Obama´s coverage was 62 percent positive [versus] 38 percent negative on the broadcast networks," the study said.
"By contrast, McCain´s coverage during this period was only 34 percent positive v. 66 percent negative," the study said.
Mr. Obama did even worse on the Fox News Channel´s "Special Report," which runs nightly on the Fox cable network.
The stories about him were 79 percent negative and 21 percent positive. Mr. McCain did better on Fox: 61 percent of the stories on him were negative, 39 percent positive.
Shifting sentiments among fickle broadcast journalists stand out, though.
"Obama´s bad press has come at a time when he was much more visible than McCain," Mr. Lichter said. "Since June 8, he has been the subject of 120 stories on the three network evening news shows, 50 percent more than John McCain´s 80 stories."
The study cited a reversal of attitudes toward the presumptive candidates in some surprising places.
"You raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying, even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the [Iraq troop] surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying, 'why'?" asked CBS News anchor Katie Couric last week when Mr. Obama was touring the Middle East.
ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper, during roughly the same time period, said: "Far more Americans say John McCain would be a good commander in chief than Obama."
The CMPA findings presents a contrast to other recent research.
A Fox News poll released Thursday showed that 7 in 10 Americans believe that "most members of the media want Obama to win the election."
An MSNBC survey released Friday found that 58 percent of Americans think Obama´s overseas trip will ultimately help him on Election Day - though 47 percent deemed press coverage of it "excessive."