Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hitting on Hillary

Has the media been toughest on Hillary Clinton, as her husband has claimed? Well, yeah, pretty much. Per The Horses Mouth:

The Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., took a look at 481 news stories on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX from October 1 through December 15, 2007. It concluded that the media hits Hillary the hardest:

TV election news has been hardest on Hillary Clinton this fall, while Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee have been the biggest media favorites, according to a new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University…

On-air evaluations of Hillary Clinton were nearly 3 to 2 negative (42% positive vs. 58% negative comments), while evaluations of her closest competitor Barack Obama was better than 3 to 2 positive (61% positive vs. 39% negative). John Edwards attracted much less coverage, but his evaluations were 2 to 1 positive (67% positive vs. 33% negative). Sen. Clinton was evaluated more often than all her Democratic opponents combined.


Obviously one needs to be cautious about reaching overall conclusions based on this sort of stuff. The pool of news orgs and the time period selected here both feel somewhat arbitrary and are of course tiny compared to the overall roar of campaign coverage. The designation of stories as “positive” or “negative” doesn’t feel all that scientific, either. What’s more, Bill obviously has his own political reasons for making these criticisms at this particular moment.

Still, there’s at least a bit of statistical evidence here that Bill’s claims aren’t all that wild-eyed after all and just may have at least some basis in reality.

What’s interesting is that in spite of these stories, Sen. Clinton is still strong in the polls in both Iowa and nationally (depending, of course, on which poll you read). Either the electorate has already got the media’s number on the hit jobs, or they’re not paying that much attention. I suspect it’s a bit of both.