- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) TV networks have given Texas Gov. George W. Bush more favorable coverage than Vice President Al Gore, both during the Republican convention and throughout the presidential race, a new analysis finds.

Still, Republicans are worried the networks will give the Democratic National Convention more TV time this week than they gave the Republican gathering in Philadelphia two weeks ago.

The study, being released today by the Center for Media and Public Affairs, examined 72 stories that aired during the Republican National Convention, July 31 to Aug. 3, on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news.

It found that 60 percent of people quoted in stories praised Mr. Bush's policies, political skills or personal character, while 80 percent of the people's quotes criticized Mr. Gore.

"This is a man-bites-dog story for Republicans, who love to hate the media," said S. Robert Lichter, the center's president. "For the first time in memory, the GOP presidential nominee is clearly beating the Democrat in the race for good press."

The study also looked at coverage during the primaries, when both Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore faced challenges from fellow party members. From Jan. 1 through March 7, when the nominations were sealed, 53 percent of the comments about Mr. Bush were positive, compared with 40 percent of comments about Mr. Gore, who will be formally nominated by Democrats this week.

Mr. Bush fared even better during 1999, when the campaign was gearing up. Comments about Mr. Bush, who was bursting onto the presidential scene, were favorable 71 percent of the time. Comments about Mr. Gore, whose campaign was struggling, were positive just 46 percent of the time.

Coverage this year is the inverse of 1992 and 1996, when President Clinton received much more positive coverage than his opponents, the center said.

Meanwhile, Republicans are concerned that the networks may give the Democrats more coverage than they gave the Republican convention.

NBC, for instance, broadcast none of the Republican convention on its first night, when Colin Powell and Laura Bush spoke, leaving coverage to its cable partner, MSNBC. But NBC plans a half hour today, when President Clinton is speaking.

Also at issue is how much time networks spent showing speeches from the podium as compared with talking with reporters and interviewing analysts.

Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson wrote to the heads of the news divisions at ABC, NBC and CBS, saying that while he had hoped for gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Republican convention, he realized that was unrealistic.

"A more realistic wish is this," he wrote, "that based on your commitment to fair and unbiased reporting, you will devote the same amount of time to the Democrats' convention as you did to ours but not a minute more."

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