Originally Posted by Piobaire
Then the research on the research showed that while incidence of coverage was about equal the character of the coverage was not. Dems were very lopsidedly covered in a positive fashion and Repubs were mildly weighted towards negative coverage. This research, and I'm sorry I don't have it to hand, went so far as to catalogue things like positive vs. negative modifiers, nature of the story, etc.
It is fair to begin any discussion about mainstream media bias by acknowledging that it exists. It also is fair to continue that discussion with a recognition that a large chunk of the mainstream media is so hyperaware about the bias perception that it can have a tendency to overcompensate.This is not meant to be a completely unqualified statement. There are many exceptions. However, what happens very frequently when discussing this topic is that conservatives tend to overemphasize the bias, while liberals tend to overemphasize the compensation.
One prominent example of this is the 2012 presidential election. Just look at the stark differences between the perception of the media coverage according to party affiliation. This is according to Pew Research:
Republicans thought coverage was too tough on Romney vs. Obama by a 45% to 3% split.
Democrats thought coverage was too tough on Romney vs. Obama by a 5% to 25% split.
However, according to non-partisan research of the actual coverage, the positive and negative coverage of Romney and Obama was almost identical. Perception of the coverage was actually way off from the reality of the coverage.
Pew not only looked at perception, but it examined actual media coverage. "An examination of the dominant or master narratives in the press about the character and record of presidential contenders finds that 72% of this coverage has been negative for Barack Obama and 71% has been negative for Mitt Romney. The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, examined the personal portrayal of the candidate in 50 major news outlets over a 10-week period."
This was echoed by scholarly research on the same topic. "Ultimately, when we looked at the average across the entire fall campaign (and the same was true in the summer), we found that the tone of the coverage of the two candidates was almost exactly the same. Neither was covered much more positively or negatively than the other."