Media Coverage of Obama Grows More Negative

Obama's positive press coverage has slipped from 59 percent to 43 percent.

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What happened to the media's crush on President Obama? In the second 100 days of his administration, the majority of press coverage was bad, with the president's policy proposals receiving more criticism than praise from reporters. According to a study by researchers at George Mason and Chapman universities, 59 percent of press coverage was positive during Obama's first 100 days in office, but then it dipped to 43 percent from May through mid-August. Especially tough on Obama was Fox News. Researchers analyzed portions of "Special Report with Bret Baier" because it most resembled a network newscast and found that 25 percent of the show's coverage of the president was positive. That's actually a little higher than the 21 percent positive coverage Obama garnered from the Fox News Channel show during his first 100 days.

Here are more details on the study:




President Obama has received mainly bad press since his first 100 days in office ended in April, reversing his previous run of positive news coverage, according to a new study by researchers at George Mason and Chapman Universities. The study finds that every major policy of the administration has received more criticism than praise from the press.

This study covers 2480 news stories about the Obama administration that appeared on the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts, the front page of the New York Times, and Time and Newsweek from January 20 through August 19. We also conducted a separate analysis of 1193 stories on the Fox News Channel "Special Report." This research was conducted by researchers at George Mason University in Fairfax VA and Chapman University in Orange CA, and coordinated by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). For information on our methodology see:

Bad Press Rises While evaluations of President Obama during the first 100 days of his presidency (Jan. through April) were 59% positive (v. 41% negative), they dropped to only 43% positive (v. 57% negative) from May through mid-August. Throughout the first eight months of his term, his coverage overall is still slightly more positive than negative, by 53% to 47%.  


Positive: He has made the country comfortable with himself as president. They seem to like his approach, how he argues through things... — Jeff Greenfield, CBS, April 26

Negative: After coming into office saying they were going to engage Iran and after six months of doing nothing, what do they do now? — David Gregory, CBS, June 13

Policies Hit Hardest Mr. Obama's policies attracted the greatest criticism in the media. Since he took office on Jan. 20, evaluations of his policies by reporters and sources have been 43% positive and 57% negative, while all other evaluations of him have been 68% positive and 32% negative. Although the heaviest criticism came on foreign policy issues, every major policy initiative has received more negative than positive evaluations.

The president's economic stimulus plan garnered the best press—47% positive—and the war on terror the worst—only 26% positive. On other issues, coverage of the administration's health care reform policies was 44% positive, general economic policy was 41% positive, the financial bailouts of various industries received 35% positive comments, policies on Israel and the Middle East were 30% positive, and Afghanistan policies got 29% positive evaluations.

Mr. Obama's coverage throughout his term has been mainly favorable in the New York Times (61% positive evaluations), evenly balanced (50% positive) at the broadcast networks, and slightly negative (48% positive) in the news magazines.

Worst Press on FOX President Obama fared far worse on Fox News Channel's "Special Report" than on the broadcast networks or the prestige press—only 23% positive v. 77% negative evaluations. [We analyzed the first half-hour of "Special Report," which most resembles the broadcast network newscasts in format.]