"The media coverage of the race for president has not so much cast Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed John McCain in a substantially negative one," according to a new Pew Reserach Center study.
In the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, unfavorable stories about McCain outweighed favorable ones by a factor of more than three to one.
For Obama during this period, just over a third of the stories were clearly positive in tone (36%), while a similar number (35%) were neutral or mixed. A smaller number (29%) were negative.For McCain, by comparison, nearly six in ten of the stories studied were decidedly negative in nature (57%), while fewer than two in ten (14%) were positive.
According to the study, "McCain did succeed in erasing one advantage Obama enjoyed earlier in the campaign—the level of media exposure each candidate received." Since the end of August, the two presidential candidates have been in a "virtual dead heat" in the amount of attention paid. Vice presidential candidates added to the mix put the Republican ticket ahead. This contrasts to the pre-convention period, when Obama had nearly 50% more coverage.
Much of the increased attention for McCain derived from his own actions, which generated mostly negative assessments.
In my view, sometime before the convention McCain abandoned his close relationship with media in favor of attack ads. In addition, his actions related to the bailout and financial crisis showed lack of leadership ability.