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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Washington Post Ombudsman Confirms Obama Tilt

Deborah Howell, Ombudsman for The Washington Post admits that her survey of articles written at the Post confirm reader’s criticism that the Post tilted toward Obama in campaign coverage.

 Howell examined Washington Post campaign coverage “on issues, voters, fundraising, the candidates' backgrounds and horse-race stories on tactics, strategy and consultants.”

Howell’s findings confirm the many complaints of journalistic bias from readers.

The op-ed page ran far more laudatory opinion pieces on Obama, 32, than on Sen. John McCain, 13. There were far more negative pieces (58) about McCain than there were about Obama (32), and Obama got the editorial board's endorsement. . .

Howell and her assistant found that news stories and photos about Obama outnumbered McCain coverage. Additionally Howell wrote that “like most of the national news media”, post reporters, photographers, and editors found Obama just more “newsworthy and historic” than an older well-known battle-scarred McCain.

Howell wrote that their survey results are comparable to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which found that from June 9 until Nov 2, 66% of campaign stories were about Obama.

Howell confirms that “Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got.” Howell was specifically concerned with the lack of coverage of his undergraduate years, his Chicago connections, his relationship with Tony Rezko, and that “The Post did nothing on Obama's acknowledged drug use as a teenager.”

On Oct 22, published the results of a study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism that covered the time frame since the two national political conventions ended. The study confirmed that the media portrayed John McCain in a “substantially negative” light.

But coverage of McCain has been heavily unfavorable—and has become more so over time. 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—the most unfavorable of all four candidates—according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.