Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

Often perceptions are repeated over and over until they seem to become reality.  A good example would be the 9/11=Iraq=War meme which lead to your current situation in Iraq.  After the fact some curious fact finder will uncover the truth, much to everyones surprise.   There has been a often repeated perception that Sen. Clinton has been the recipient of unfair, even biased questions during the debates against Sen. Obama.   Despite my feelings that those perceptions were incorrect I never did the work to find out the truth, so could not defend my perception.  luckily someone has decided to find truth. In a interesting article posted at the Huffington Post the 1v1 debates are broken down and analyzed.  

Here is a quick teaser.  

 ABC asked the most scandal questions, and both ABC and NBC devoted only half of their questions to policy issues. The CNN debates were dramatically more policy-focused

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/04/20 /debate-analysis-abc-asked_n_97599.html

More interesting observations;

Clinton actually had it much rougher at CNN's earlier one-on-one debate in Hollywood. That was the only debate of the four where Clinton was asked a scandal question while Obama was not. Moreover, Clinton faced three questions on her initial support for the Iraq war ("Why can't you just say right now that that vote was a mistake?"), one question about Sen. Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Obama, and another on the perception of a Bush-Clinton dynasty ("How can you be an agent of change when we have had the same two families in the White House for the last 30 years?").

And finally this observation..


Barack Obama has received the overwhelming majority of scandal questions over the course of the four debates, by a margin of 17 to 4

So what do you think, does the perception match reality?

Tags: ABC, clinton, Debate, Fair, gotcha, Huffington, Media, obama, Post (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

It would seem that more scandal questions would be asked of Senator Obama for two reasons 1) His past and current scandals have not been as discussed or are not as well known as Hillary's 2)His scandals are much more recent w/Wright, Ayers, Snob-gate, etc.

by zcflint05 2008-04-20 12:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

Funny thing about Ayers, it's not new, has been written about previously.  

by nextgen 2008-04-20 01:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

Rev. Wright is not recent either. I recall reading about that more than a year ago. Ayers isn't recent.

by Mystylplx 2008-04-20 03:17PM | 0 recs
Interesting

I will have to check to see what they consider to be the gotcha questions, and see if I agree with their characterization...but frankly for a couple of reasons I am not surprised.

1. Obama is more of an unknown quantity compared to Clinton, who has been in the media spotlight most of my adult life, so I expect them to ask him more pointed questions.

2. The media is playing up the horse race and asking the gotcha questions to the front runner in order to stack the deck for a more interesting contest.

Face it.  The media doesn't care who wins so much as they care about their ratings.

by Sychotic1 2008-04-20 12:47PM | 0 recs
Completely true.

I just wish more Clinton supporters would grasp that fact.

by Mystylplx 2008-04-20 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- ABC News

I think, early on, Clinton was asked the most pointed questions because she was THE CLEAR front-runner?

And, when she started to slip, the press did go at her hard?  Middle debate period.

This last debate, I completely expected Obama to get the majority of the pointed questions, just the absolute absurdity of "when did you stop beating your wife" questions like can Obama define Rev Wrights Patrotism to the satisfaction of any who see that issue as white hot?

And, Label Pins? IF THAT is the issue PA decides on, God help us all?

The most truely bizzare moment, and one that Obama should have went ballastic on, was Gibson Capital Gains Tax question?

WTF?  

After 20 years of constant transferrence of wealth (and I mean wealth as defined economically, not income) to the top 1%, Capital Gains rates are the issue that Gibson thinks is critical to America right now?

Ok, I would last about 10 seconds as a presidential candidate, cause I would have handed Charlie his ass over that question if not leaped over the table and rammed his little proffesor glasses up his backside?

Obama and Clinton have to hold back, they walk a tight-rope, while Teflon John can talk about permanent tax cuts while the US is verging on economic collapse....

by WashStateBlue 2008-04-20 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

Both good points, but these observations do fly in the face of "common wisdom" to some degree.  

by nextgen 2008-04-20 12:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

That's the point. "Common wisdom" has, to a large degree, been created by the never-ending whining of the Clinton campaign.

by Mystylplx 2008-04-20 03:21PM | 0 recs
Exercise in spin

It's actually a shallow "analysis", in my opinion, although I give HuffPo credit for continuing to be on the ball when it comes to their P/R duties.

But if we think logically, of course there are many more factors at play than simply "how many questions".  For example, a brief follow-up, or even a request for clarification, would be considered questions in this study.  So, for example, when Steph was shocked that Obama had just claimed to have disowned Rev. Wright, and asked, "You DISOWNED him??", that counts as an entirely seperate question, according to this article.

That's really pretty silly.

As Jay Cost pointed out in his excellent analysis on RCP, Barack Obama continued to shift the topic of discussion back to previous "scandal questions", without allowing the moderators to move on.  Mr. Cost documents this very precisely in his piece so I recommend it.

So, time spent might have been a better measure, but even that wouldn't take into account poor choices, like the ones Mr. Cost talks about.

Totally ignored by this scientific study is the notion of a soft-ball question, who is made to answer first, and a variety of other things.

So, again, the whole piece is just a silly attempt to put a spin on something for the sake of saving face.  My suggestion is that supporters just own up to the fact that their candidate didn't have a good night and move on.  Certainly, I don't suggest continuing to bring up non-issues like this, all while pretending to be outraged that we don't spend more time talking about issues.

Journalists as Slate are starting to notice the pattern.

by bobbank 2008-04-20 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

I guess you could take it that way.  We could add so many variables that you could not measure.  The writer of the article is quite upfront about the limits and purpose of their analysis.  

As a matter of fact the author states as much here.

<blockquote? This is obviously not a scientific process. I did not factor in the tone of the policy questions, which were often framed as critiques of the candidates and their views (although I found relative parity between Clinton and Obama in this respect). Moreover, for the purposes of this analysis, I'm not taking a position on whether any of the scandal questions were fair or legitimate lines of inquiry <blockquote>

It would seem your post pretty much supports what the author admitted in the article.  

by nextgen 2008-04-20 01:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

I guess you could take it that way.  We could add so many variables that you could not measure.  The writer of the article is quite upfront about the limits and purpose of their analysis.  

As a matter of fact the author states as much here.

This is obviously not a scientific process. I did not factor in the tone of the policy questions, which were often framed as critiques of the candidates and their views (although I found relative parity between Clinton and Obama in this respect). Moreover, for the purposes of this analysis, I'm not taking a position on whether any of the scandal questions were fair or legitimate lines of inquiry

It would seem your post pretty much supports what the author admitted in the article.  

by nextgen 2008-04-20 01:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

The only study conducted on media bias was by Pew, which found that Hillary received the worst coverage among Democrats in the first years of 2007.

There was a study that only measured a 1-week period, (after the SNL skit) which found Obama receiving worse coverage.

The bottom line is that no long-term study has found Obama getting the worst coverage.

And every time respondents are asked who they think received the worst coverage, respondents pick Clinton as the most punished one.

by kingsbridge77 2008-04-20 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

Kingsbridge,

I would think the 2007 data is correct, I have no arguments.  

The last sentence of your post was the question I was asking, did she in fact receive worse treatment in the 08 debates or is the perception a function of hearing over and over that she has.  

In any case it's a interesting conversation.  

by nextgen 2008-04-20 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Perception vs. Reality- Media Bias?

I think you're referring to the Project for Excellence in Journalim study (they are connected to PEW in some way, but if I'm wrong can you provide a link?)

If so you should be aware that of the 300 stories they sampled for Hillary Clinton, almost 20% of them came from conservative talk radio.

by Mystylplx 2008-04-20 03:31PM | 0 recs

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