Disparate Treatment As LA Times Toasts Obama's Announcement

You could sense the revelry as the Los Angeles Times featured Sen. Barack Obama's announcement on the top of its front page (Wednesday, January 17, 2007). (See the image.) Along with the 1469-word article is a color photo of Barack and a colored box highlighting his "Background," "Experience," and "Education." Inside, with the continuation of the article, is another generous photo of Barack, this one covering over 30 square inches. The article gushes that Obama is a "charismatic speaker" who "has been enthusiastically received by audiences around the country."

Contrast the Times' glowing front-page reception of Obama with the way the paper reported the exact same announcement from Sen. Sam Brownback last month (December 5, 2006). Front-page treatment? An additional text box in color featuring Brownback's "Background," "Experience," and "Education"? A couple of nice photos? Not even close. The Times stuffed the moderately-sized, 833-word article on Brownback on page A20. And the title? "Conservative Sen. Brownback explores presidential run." The article begins, "Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a favorite of social conservatives ...," and the word "conservative" is sprinkled throughout the piece.

Meanwhile, while Obama enjoyed a perfect rating of 100 from liberal groups Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and NARAL in 2005, the Times does not use the word "liberal" to describe Obama until the closing paragraphs of the article when it finally reports, "He has a traditionally liberal voting history - supporting gay rights, abortion rights and gun control. The only vote in 2006 with which he opposed the liberal Americans for Democratic Action was in supporting a free-trade agreement with Oman."

Mind you, Obama did not even formally announce his candidacy for President. (The Times says that announcement is expected February 10 in Illinois.) Rather, he announced he had formed an exploratory committee, just as Sen. Brownback did last month. And this is a big front-page story at the Los Angeles Times? Yup.

Disparate treatment and bias? Of course.

[Funny P.S.: I've never considered myself much of a fortune teller, but check out the article I penned back in Jan. 2005 called, "Los Angeles Times Launching 2008 Obama Campaign??" The Times has been fawning over this guy since (before) Day One.]

Dave Pierre
Dave Pierre is a contributing writer to NewsBusters and the creator of TheMediaReport.com.