Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Sarah Palin may not love the media, but we sure like her ....

September 25, 2008 |  3:25 pm

GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is getting better television news coverage -- in quantity and tone -- than either John McCain or Barack Obama, according to a new study out of George Mason University.

The research may be surprising, considering Palin has had a strained relationship with the press since she took the stage last month at the Republican National Convention.

The Alaska governor drew some of her loudest cheers with this line: "Here's a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion -- I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country."Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin pumps her fist during her speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008

Since then, Palin has rarely tangled with the press. She has done a handful of interviews with hand-picked reporters, her staff prompted an uproar when they tried to bar all reporters from her meetings with world leaders, and she failed to hold a single press conference until today, when she answered four questions from reporters traveling with her.

Since Palin was picked as McCain's running mate on Aug. 29, the nightly news on ABC, CBS and NBC has run 77 stories about her, which nearly double the number of Obama pieces and six more than McCain. Three-quarters of the stories were positive, compared to 56% for Obama and 40% for McCain.

“She’s new, she’s a fresh face, she had a momentous event, she re-energized the race, she brings a historic dimension,”  said study author S. Robert Lichter, a communications professor at George Mason University and president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs. “She’s the McCain campaign’s Obama.”

And Joe Biden -- well, mentioning his name here is probably the first time you've heard it in days. The Democratic vice presidential candidate notched a paltry five stories, too few to statistically analyze the tone of his coverage.

The research of evening newscasts between Aug. 23 and Sept. 12 was conducted by Lichter, who has worked as a paid consultant for the Fox News Channel. If his name rings bells, it could be because his earlier research found the three networks were tougher on Obama than McCain during the first six weeks of the general election.

-- Seema Mehta

Photo credit: Ron Edmonds / Associated Press