The presidential campaign is entering its final stretch, with the first debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to take place this Wednesday. The race has been neck-to-neck, but recent accusations from the right say the media are providing the president with an unfair advantage in the form of undeserved positive coverage.
The media in the United States have long been subject to criticisms of liberal bias and accusations that they are unfairly critical of Republican candidates. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said on Fox News on Sunday that "there's definitely a media bias."
Coverage of that comment itself—Politico's headline read "Paul Ryan breaks ‘no whining rule;'" New York Times wrote that Ryan was "complaining" about media bias; and CNN.com said Ryan "accused the media of having a liberal disposition"—has been criticized of bias. None of those outlets mentioned that Ryan was speaking in response to a question from Chris Wallace: "Do you think the mainstream media is carrying water for Barack Obama?"
Most recently, conservatives have decried the media for failing to hammer Obama on the diplomatic murders in Libya. They say the media aren't paying any attention to the fact that the Obama administration knew the assault on the U.S. consulate was a preplanned terrorist attack that was played off as a protest that escalated to violence.
U.S. News's Peter Roff wrote:
There are a lot of questions still unasked, let alone unanswered about what happened on Sept. 11, 2012 and what has happened in the days since. The Obama administration can't seem to keep its stories straight but anyone who ought to be asking questions isn't—which goes for Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill as well as the media.
The Media Research Center, which states that its mission is "holding the liberal media accountable for shamelessly advancing a left-wing agenda, distorting the truth, and vilifying the conservative movement," last week wrote "An Open Letter to the Biased News Media:"
This election year, so much of the broadcast networks, their cable counterparts, and the major establishment print media are out of control with a deliberate and unmistakable leftist agenda. To put it bluntly: you are rigging this election and taking sides in order to pre-determine the outcome. In the quarter century since the Media Research Center was established to document liberal media bias, there has never been a more brazen and complete attempt by the liberal so-called "news" media to decide the outcome of an election.
The New York Times' David Carr—also accused of distorting Ryan's media bias comment—said solidly conservative media outlets are just as prevalent in the United States as "liberal" ones.
"Even if legacy media still maintained some kind of death grip on American consciousness, it would be hard to claim that the biggest players in those industries are peddling liberal theology," Carr wrote. "It's hard to picture conservatives as disenfranchised in the fight for attention from the news media, not after a campaign season in which the audition for the Republican nomination seemed to include some combination of hosting and making guest appearances on Fox News. "
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