Saturday, August 4

the Networks' Presidential Coverage

I came across a chart from the New York Times of the amount of time each presidential candidate has been interviewed by news channel through the middle of July. (Click on it for full size)

Some of the numbers don't quite make sense. Surprisingly, John McCain has had the most air time at nearly 6 hours spread evenly across the board yet his campaign is going down like the Titanic. The candidate with the second largest amount of time is Joe Biden, with just over 5 hours, whereas Hillary, the current Democrat frontrunner, has only had half that and she's near the bottom of air time. The third and fourth spots are held by Huckabee and Richardson who are both largely ignored.

Someone who really is ignored is our own Tommy Thompson dead last with 53 minutes. I heard one commentator mention that he'd be lucky to stay in for another two weeks. Unfortunately Ron Paul is third from last.

The most striking contrast has to be that of Fred Thompson who has only been on two channels, NBC and Fox, and despite not even actually running has the second most air time on Fox, of 101 minutes, just 14 minutes behind Rudy's 115.

It is said that the media has a liberal bias, so I took these numbers and did a little computing:

Hmm, it appears the "fair and balanced news" channel isn't so balanced. Other than that, these channels are slanted liberal, but rather moderately in comparison to Fox News. In fact summing up the swing of the other five stations yields 73%, slightly larger than Fox's 70.5% Republican swing. Fox is literally single-handedly balancing tv politics, it would appear.

Taking into account the fact that there are 10 GOP and 8 Democrat candidates the chips fall as such:

On the bottom is how much more interview time each channel gives to the average candidate from each party. Once again, Fox News is the most slanted, but overall the Democrats have still gotten 1.2 times as much tv time as the Republicans.

One last chart, each channel's top three candidates:

This chart is near even, 11 Dems and 9 GOP'ers. CNN has two ties.

Overall from the first graphic, I would say CNN and MSNBC do the best job of covering all the candidates, though leaning Democrat. CNN emphasizes the big candidates and MSNBC emphasizes the 'others' (although CNN needs to add a 'Wolf Blitzer' category). The air networks ignore the 'fringes' and Fox ignores 'fringes' and Democrats.

***On a side note, the next presidential debate is this Sunday morning at 8 am CST on ABC with the nine Republican candidates. Yikes!


Tim said...

Thanks Mike for the insightful presidential TV analysis. I am extremely entertained by the Fox #'s and its partisanship. The #'s also highlight how much the networks like Edwards (ABC, NBC, CNN). What I'm most surprised by though is that no channel is donating much time to Clinton...WTF...she is ahead in every Democratic and National poll.

One more comment, when is a more libertarian news network going to develop and form. It's hard to even find more libertarian commentators these days.

Mike said...

It is interesting to see where the news channels are. CNN and Fox went the way I thought they would, though I hadn't considered how Fox pretty much never has Dems on.

As for libertarians on tv, I don't think anyone is open about it, but Tucker Carlson on MSNBC and Judge Napolitano on Fox both seem to lean libertarian. South Park is libertarian, too. I don't think there's enough of us out there for a tv news network.

Tim said...

Yeah, I would probably add Dennis Miller and John Stoessel to the libertarian mix.

On Fox, personally I don't really watch it b/c the channel seems to spend most of its time/coverage on foreign policy issues including the Iraq War. I find CNN more interesting than Fox though its often easy to pick out liberal biases throughout the broadcast.

Mike said...

How could I forget Stoessel? I've read one of his books.

I think perhaps there might be some logic behind McCain's time on the air networks. I thought I saw somewhere that his largest support by demographics is old people. Old people are the most likely to not have cable, I imagine. But, I don't know who supported him first: old folks or the traditional stations.