Brent Bozell
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The general-election campaign for president is not yet under way, but clearly, some in the media have entered the Utterly Ridiculous Zone. On CNN's "Reliable Sources," host Howard Kurtz hailed an "eye-opener: the candidate with the best coverage during the presidential primaries was Mitt Romney. And the worst? Barack Obama."

That's not eye-opening. It's a declaration that you're blind and deaf, and your olfactory glands are shot to pieces. When something smells as bad as this, odds are it's rotten.

The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism -- to be precise, former Los Angeles Times media reporter Tom Rosenstiel and former Boston Globe media reporter Mark Jurkowitz -- found an easy mark in their old colleague, the former Washington Post media reporter Kurtz.

Kurtz announced: "Here are the numbers: from January through mid-April, Romney's media coverage was rated 39 percent positive, 32 percent negative. And President Obama: just 18 percent positive, 34 percent negative. ...What accounts for the huge disparity between two candidates?"

Try "nonsensical science." The "huge disparity" comes from a screwy methodology that ridiculously expands the concept of "news media" to include "coverage and commentary on more than 11,500 news outlets" and analyzed by a computer software program. Eleven thousand-plus "news" outlets, as identified and examined by an impersonal set of computer formulas? Any armchair analyst would tell you at this point that you could throw this "study" away; it is meaningless.

Pew also separately claims to review "hundreds of thousands" of blogs, which means that a) the few dozen top-ranked influential blogs are submerged in a blur with every obscure blog unknown to man; and b) since it includes blogs that are informational and opinionated, this ain't about news.

How is the so-called "objective" national media presenting this presidential race? Why are we assuming Pew is offering a real answer? Reporters such as Kurtz are better than this and should be asking skeptical questions about their bizarre research methods.

The Pew study was designed to review "assertions" within coverage, and then tag it as "positive," "negative," or "neutral." The key to understanding their numbers is that they incorporated horse-race assessments into their measure of good and bad press. In fact, the overwhelming focus of the "news" coverage they studied was focused on strategy and tactics, not on public policy. If Obama is ahead, it's "positive coverage"; if he's behind, "negative." This is foolish.

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Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
 
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