The mainstream press have been accused of being biased in favor of President-elect Barack Obama for months - a phenomenon now acknowledged by one of the nation’s media heavyweights.
On Sunday, The Washington Post’s ombudsman, Deborah Howell, offered evidence of an “Obama tilt” in her own newspaper.
“Readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts,” Ms. Howell wrote in her column.
“Now Howell gives the mea culpa in her first column after Election Day, when it’s far too late to do anything about it. Where was Howell during the last three months? Why wait until the election is over to speak up? That’s an answer in itself,” countered Ed Morrissey of Hot Air.
“Now she tells us,” quipped Byron York of National Review.
Revelations of a pro-Obama press are not new.
A Pew Research Center survey released in late October found, for example, that 70 percent of voters agreed that the press wanted Mr. Obama to win the White House; the figure was 62 percent even among Democratic respondents. The same analysis found a Democrat-friendly press dating back to the 1992 presidential election.
A current Harvard University analysis revealed that 77 percent of Americans say the press in politically biased; of that group, 5 percent said it skewed conservative.
With the help of an assistant, Ms. Howell examined The Post’s political coverage since Nov. 11, 2007. “Numbers don’t tell you everything, but they give you a sense of The Post’s priorities,” she said.
The number of Obama-centric stories was 946, compared with 786 centered on John McCain until the presidential nominations were completed in June, she found. From then to Election Day, the tally was 626 stories for Mr. Obama, 584 for Mr. McCain.
Mr. Obama was on the front page 176 times, Mr. McCain, 144 times; 41 stories featured both candidates.
“The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces (58) about McCain than there were about Obama (32), and Obama got the editorial board’s endorsement,” Ms. Howell said.
The Post also ran more photographs of Mr. Obama. Since June 4, Mr. Obama was in 311 Post photos and Mr. McCain in 282. The Democrat also got splashier treatment, garnering larger pictures (133 to 121, respectively) and more color shots (164 to 133).
She compared her results to a study of the national news media conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which found that from June 9 to Nov. 2, two-thirds of the campaign stories were about Mr. Obama compared with 53 percent for Mr. McCain.
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