The Obama campaign and cable "news" network MSNBC shared more than a mere slogan this presidential cycle. Neither entity had a single negative thing to say about the incumbent president over the closing week of the campaign. By definition, it was Team Obama's job to portray the president in a unflinchingly favorable light -- but what exactly is the NBC-owned channel's mission statement? Fox News is often accused of being a little more than a right-wing spin machine, particularly during its opinion programming. Fox's overall coverage of the campaign tilted heavily in favor of Mitt Romney during the home stretch, with some "fair and balanced" negative coverage of the Republican and positive reporting about the president sprinkled in for good measure. MSNBC went the full Pravda. Via Pew Research:
Not a single MSNBC story about Mitt Romney was positive -- not one. Meanwhile, zero segments about the president were negative. Allahpundit reaches into the word bag and grabs an entirely appropriate description of Pew's data reflected graph above: "Indistinguishable from propaganda." He also notes that the Benghazi controversy was in full swing over this time period, indicating that MSNBC couldn't find anything critical to say about the Obama administration, even regarding its disgraceful handling of a preventable terrorist attack that claimed the lives of four American diplomats. As I reported yesterday, the MSNBC crew is now accusing critics on this front of engaging in "conspiracy" theorizing. In short, the network has essentially given up trying to even pretend to anything other than a house organ of the professional left. At what point are they no longer considered a news outlet? I'll leave you with this chart from Pew, demonstrating that overall media coverage of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney moved in opposite directions in the week directly preceding the election. Surprise:
What's more, Obama received substantially more coverage than Romney during this time frame (80 percent to 62 percent). So the incumbent enjoyed increased and more positive coverage as voters finalized their decisions; his challenger was mentioned less, but when he was covered, those mentions were twice as likely to be negative than positive. Whining about media bias is a useless enterprise for conservatives. It's a fact of life that isn't going away any time soon. Republican politicians should recognize this reality and plan accordingly. But it's also preposterous for people to continue to claim that this bias doesn't exist. Sure, improved polling and the Sandy photo-ops goosed Obama's numbers in the chart above, but that doesn't explain the sharp negative turn of the Romney coverage. The media is generally populated by liberal Democrats who wanted Obama to win. Whether it's deliberate or subconscious, this mentality slants coverage. The American people understand this more than ever -- which is why it's inaccurate to pin Romney's loss on slanted journalism. It was a contributing factor, of course, but there were many bigger issues at play. That said, a 2011 UCLA study has posited that media bias increases Democrats' popular vote total by eight to ten percentage points in any given election season. That might sound extreme, but ask yourself this question: If a Republican incumbent were facing roughly eight percent unemployment, and much higher "real" unemployment -- all while adding more than $5 trillion to the national debt and breaking virtually every major promise he'd made during his previous campaign, would this election have even been close? Probably not. He'd have long since been declared a failure, and the resulting coverage would have been a build-up to the coronation of his opponent. Benghazi and its cover-up would have been a massive, eleventh-hour feeding frenzy; a final nail in the coffin. But Democrats preside over a different media climate, so forward to four more year we go.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography