For nearly all of his presidency, George W. Bush has been on the receiving end of mainly negative — sometimes highly negative — coverage from the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), a nonpartisan research group. The only time the TV networks gave Bush mostly (63%) positive coverage was during the three months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and even then nearly four-in-ten on-air evaluations (37%) of the President were critical.
The findings are included in the latest issue of CMPA’s Media Monitor newsletter, which reached my (snail) mailbox on Friday. So far, it has yet to be posted on CMPA’s Web site, which appears to make this NewsBusters posting a World Wide Web exclusive.
The CMPA researchers examined network coverage of President Bush during various periods in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2006. With the exception of the post 9/11 period in 2001, they found that the networks invariably saddled Bush with mainly negative coverage. (A separate CMPA report from 2004 looked at Bush’s coverage during that year’s election, and also found mainly negative network news coverage.)
In fact, according to the report, Bush’s coverage in early 2001 was so negative that even with the burst of positive coverage after 9/11, the networks that year still wound up presenting more condemnations of the President than praise. A summary of CMPA’s findings of how ABC, CBS and NBC have depicted President Bush during his first five years in office:
2001 (all) 61% negative
2003 69% negative
2004 63% negative
2005 79% negative
2006 76% negative
Among the top topics of the networks’ presidential news stories this year: the war in Iraq, the aftermath Hurricane Katrina, terrorism, illegal immigration and the Dubai ports deal, with the war in Iraq receiving by far the most coverage.