While some studies have tended to verify something along the lines of a “liberal media bias,” other studies have indicated otherwise. Well, making the headlines is another study to add to the latter.

From the L.A. Times (which also contains a reference to a study to add to the former):

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.

Conservatives have been snarling about the grotesque disparity revealed by another study, the online Tyndall Report, which showed Obama receiving more than twice as much network air time as McCain in the last month and a half. Obama got 166 minutes of coverage in the seven weeks after the end of the primary season, compared with 67 minutes for McCain, according to longtime network-news observer Andrew Tyndall.

I wrote last week that the networks should do more to better balance the air time. But I also suggested that much of the attention to Obama was far from glowing.

That earned a spasm of e-mails that described me as irrational, unpatriotic and . . . somehow . . . French.

I saw a debate on the more recent study on one of the cable news shows tonight. The conservative head actually cited as rebuttal a Rasmussen poll which indicated that the majority of Americans believe that the media is slanted liberal. Seriously. Statistics defeated by popular perception.

And yes, I do believe CBS purposely edited McCain’s gaffes out of the interviews, not necessarily because they’re supporting McCain, but rather because they’re gun-shy. Katie Couric wants conservatives to come onto her show to be interviewed (a boycott of the sort is reportedly what killed Crossfire in the latter Carville/Begalla days as one or both of them would chew up conservative pols and spit out the flag pins). I don’t buy the “young editor” excuse.

Eric Alterman wrote about the impact of the LME meme a few years back in What Liberal Media?

On occasion, honest conservatives admit this. Rich Bond, then chair of the Republican Party, complained during the 1992 election, “I think we know who the media want to win this election–and I don’t think it’s George Bush.” The very same Rich Bond, however, also noted during the very same election, “There is some strategy to it [bashing the 'liberal' media]…. If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is ‘work the refs.’ Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one.”

Bond is hardly alone. That the media were biased against the Reagan Administration is an article of faith among Republicans. Yet James Baker, perhaps the most media-savvy of them, owned up to the fact that any such complaint was decidedly misplaced. “There were days and times and events we might have had some complaints [but] on balance I don’t think we had anything to complain about,” he explained to one writer. Patrick Buchanan, among the most conservative pundits and presidential candidates in Republican history, found that he could not identify any allegedly liberal bias against him during his presidential candidacies. “I’ve gotten balanced coverage, and broad coverage–all we could have asked. For heaven sakes, we kid about the ‘liberal media,’ but every Republican on earth does that,” the aspiring American ayatollah cheerfully confessed during the 1996 campaign. And even William Kristol, without a doubt the most influential Republican/neoconservative publicist in America today, has come clean on this issue. “I admit it,” he told a reporter. “The liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures.”

And watching the news tonight, the media grudgingly point out that McCain has been “inaccurate” in his account of Obama with regard to visiting wounded soldiers, photo-ops, and the like (bloggers on the other hand have no problem using the word “lie”). But having been corrected, he continues to make the same accusations even tonight, with no real challenge from any network other than MSNBC.

So while I am optimistic for an Obama win, the media’s wimpiness remains McCain’s ace in the hole.

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