O'Reilly Spins The 2008 Presidential Media Study
By: Steve - June 3, 2011 - 8:00am
Here is what O'Reilly said on the Wednesday night Factor:
O'REILLY: In 2008 the broadcast networks provided then-Senator Obama with overwhelmingly favorable coverage.And later in the interview with Diane Sawyer O'Reilly reminded Sawyer of studies showing that the networks were exceedingly biased in 2008. Billy said this:
O'REILLY: Last time around Barack Obama got kid gloves treatment. I am concerned as an American that the three network news nightly broadcasts are in the tank for the Democratic candidate, and I don't think that's fair.And now the facts, O'Reilly misrepresented what the study found, and of course he knew exactly what he was doing. Because he is so desperate to make the mainstream media look biased, he has to lie about the study.
The study was done by PEJ at www.journalism.org, a non-partisan media analysis group. Here is the title and the date.
Winning the Media Campaign
October 22, 2008
How the Press Reported the 2008 General Election
Now check this out, here is what they say in the first 4 lines of the report:
The media coverage of the race for president has not so much cast Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed John McCain in a substantially negative one, according to a new study of the media since the two national political conventions ended.Now think about this, O'Reilly twisted that statement from the study into this:
O'REILLY: In 2008 the broadcast networks provided then-Senator Obama with overwhelmingly favorable coverage.Which is not what the study said, so O'Reilly was spinning what they found. And here are some more details from the study that show O'Reilly was spinning.
For Obama during this period, just over a third of the stories were clearly positive in tone (36%), while a similar number (35%) were neutral or mixed. A smaller number (29%) were negative.
Read that again folks, 36% positive for Obama, 35% neutral or mixed, and 29% negative. Where is the overwhelmingly favorable coverage for Obama, it's not there, in fact, it's almost a perfect balance. So O'Reilly is a liar, and an idiot. It was 64% neutral or negative, to only 36% positive for Obama. Nobody but O'Reilly claims that is overwhelmingly favorable coverage for Obama, and he is wrong.
For McCain, nearly six in ten of the stories studied were decidedly negative in nature (57%), while fewer than two in ten (14%) were positive.
Some findings from the study:
-- Coverage of Obama began in the negative after the conventions, but the tone switched with the changing direction of the polls. The most positive stories about him were those that were most political-the ones focused on polling, the electoral map, and tactics.
-- For McCain, coverage began positively, but turned sharply negative with McCain's reaction to the crisis in the financial markets. As he took increasingly bolder steps to try and reverse the direction of the polls, the coverage only worsened.
And there you have it, what O'Reilly failed to mention, is that coverage of McCain was mostly positive, until his crazy reaction to the crisis in the financial markets. Then his coverage went mostly negative, and he deserved it. O'Reilly does not tell you any of that, while lying that the media was biased for Obama, when the study actually shows they were almost perfectly balanced.
Now here are some other quotes from the actual study, where they talk about their findings, and they pretty much disagree with O'Reilly.
One question likely to be posed is whether these findings provide evidence that the news media are pro-Obama. Is there some element in these numbers that reflects a rooting by journalists for Obama and against McCain, unconscious or otherwise? The data does not provide conclusive answers.
They do offer a strong suggestion that winning in politics gets winning coverage, thanks in part to the relentless tendency of the press to frame its coverage of national elections as running narratives about the relative position of the candidates in the polls and internal tactical maneuvering to alter those positions.
Obama's coverage was negative in tone when he was dropping in the polls, and became positive when he began to rise, and it was just so for McCain as well. Nor are these numbers different than what we have seen before.
Obama's numbers are similar to what we saw for John Kerry four years ago as he began rising in the polls, and McCain's numbers are almost identical to what we saw eight years ago for Democrat Al Gore.
What the findings also reveal is the reinforcing-rather than press-generated-effects of media. We see a repeating pattern here in which the press first offers a stenographic account of candidate rhetoric and behavior, while also on the watch for misstatements and gaffes.
In short, the financial crisis and particularly Obama's steadier reaction to it in relation to McCain's were clearly a turning point in the media coverage. More positive coverage was then reflected in the polls, which in turn were reinforced in the horse race coverage that played off those polls.
Basically O'Reilly sees what he wants to see, then he lies about it, then he puts his spin on it. Because what he said about the study and the media is not true, it's his biased opinion of it. The study says the coverage of Obama was balanced, and mostly negative for McCain, but it only turned negative after McCain made a big political mistake.