While Thursday’s New York Times reported that the anchors from all three network newscasts will be joining Barack Obama on his trip to Iraq, they showed no such interest in following John McCain during his visit to Iraq in March. During the week of March 16, McCain’s trip received only four full-length stories during the combined ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news program coverage. Three of those stories were on NBC’s "Nightly News," one of which focused on McCain’s mistaken comment about Iran funding Al Qaeda in Iraq. ABC’s "World News" did only one full-length story on McCain’s Iraq trip, which mentioned the gaffe. The CBS "Evening News" was by far the worst, devoting only 31 words, a grand total of 10 seconds, to the Republican nominee’s Iraq visit during the entire week of evening news coverage. Read Media Research Center press release here.
Even the Times article acknowledged that McCain’s Iraq trip received little coverage: "Senator John McCain’s trip to Iraq last March was a low-key affair: With a small retinue of reporters chasing him abroad...But the coverage also feeds into concerns in Mr. McCain’s campaign, and among Republicans in general, that the news media are imbalanced in their coverage of the candidates." See the previous NewsBusters post by John Stephenson for more on the Times article.
The Times article also pointed out that:
The imbalance has appeared in various analyses of the news coverage. The Tyndall Report, a news coverage monitoring service that has the broadcast networks as clients, reports that the three newscasts by the networks — which have a combined audience of more than 20 million people — spent roughly 114 minutes covering Mr. Obama since June. They spent about 48 minutes covering Mr. McCain, who made the rounds of the evening newscasts in satellite interviews last week.
In addition, the article quoted senior vice president of CBS News, Paul Friedman, who attempted to justify the lopsided coverage:
"This is Senator Obama’s first trip — his positions and the public’s perception of him on national security issues are important." Mr. Friedman said Mr. McCain and the Republicans had helped make the visit a bigger story because they had repeatedly questioned Mr. Obama’s credentials, keeping a running count of the number of days that have passed since Mr. Obama last visited Iraq, in 2006.