Media ends Bush battle; round two: Palin

One battle ends, another begins. His job done, President Bush will abandon the major press spotlight in 11 days. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s match in the media arena has just begun, however.

As Mr. Bush’s time in office ebbs, the nation has recognized that journalists, for the most part, were hard on him.

“The American public is more likely to say the press has been too critical of President George W. Bush in his last days in office than to say the same about coverage of President-elect Barack Obama,” said a Pew Research Center news analysis released Thursday.

“About 3-in-10 (29 percent) see coverage of Bush as too critical, while just 11 percent see coverage of Obama that way,” the study said.

Though some Republicans are irked with Mr. Bush for a variety of reasons, they still appear loyal.

The study found that 62 percent of Republican respondents said coverage of the president had been too critical, compared with 12 percent of Democrats. Forty-one percent of the public deemed the Bush coverage “fair.” The number was 50 percent of the Democrats and 27 percent of Republicans.

Opinion was more positive about Mr. Obama’s coverage. Sixty-one percent overall said it was fair, compared with 50 percent among Republicans and 69 percent among Democrats.

In October, a Pew survey found that 70 percent of voters agreed that journalists “wanted” Mr. Obama to win the White House. A Dec. 5 study from the Center for Media and Public Affairs revealed that Mr. Obama received the most positive campaign coverage in two decades.

But even he knows the honeymoon can’t last forever, and that negative coverage of his administration is inevitable. “I’m sure it’s coming,” Mr. Obama told CNBC on Wednesday.

Things are not so harmonious for Mrs. Palin, meanwhile.

Though she left the campaign trial and returned home, shabby press treatment of Mrs. Palin and her family continues. In an interview released Wednesday by filmmaker John Ziegler for an upcoming documentary titled “Media Malpractice,” the governor said CBS anchor Katie Couric and others had used their unfair depictions of her to further their careers.

“There’s hypocrisy in it all,” Mrs. Palin said, noting that she might have warranted a “prettier profile” as a Democrat.

She also fretted that Americans would be “sucked into what the mainstream media want them to believe.”

“Clearly, Governor Sarah Palin’s influence has irked the left. Here we are months after the election, and liberal extremists are still doing all they can to tear her down,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List and co-founder of “Team Sarah,” a grass-roots group supporting the governor.

In recent weeks, Mrs. Dannenfelser said that some 90 “liberal activists” had posed online as members of the group, posting “hate speech and bigotry.” She added that the activists planned “mass posting of pornography photos in Team Sarah forums.”

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