The Big Three broadcast networks lavished an incredible amount of attention on Barack Obama's tour of the Middle East and Europe last week. Compared to a very similar trip by John McCain last March, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts gave Obama more than ten times the coverage — 92 minutes for the Democrat's eight-day trip, compared to just eight and a half minutes for the Republican's seven-day tour.
The MRC's Peter Sasso calculated that the CBS Evening News was the most obviously tilted, with more than 34 minutes of Obama coverage during the eight days from July 20 through July 27. Back in March, McCain's seven-day trip garnered a piddling ten seconds from CBS, a ridiculously lopsided 200-to-1 disparity. For its part, ABC's World News gave Obama nearly as much coverage as CBS (about 33 minutes), or roughly 15 times more attention than they provided McCain's trip (slightly more than two minutes). NBC Nightly News spent nearly 25 minutes covering Obama, or about four times more than they gave McCain back in March (a little over six minutes).
All three networks led their evening newscasts with Obama on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Thursday; ABC and CBS also opened with Obama on Tuesday, while NBC that night began with the impending landfall of Hurricane Dolly. In March, McCain's travels never topped the news even though he hit most of the same countries: Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Britain and France, with Obama also visiting Afghanistan and Germany.
While the network anchors who flew to meet with Obama did pose some tough questions — such as pressing him to admit that the troop surge he opposed has been a success — there was giddy celebration as well. On Thursday, NBC's Brian Williams touted how "the first ever African-American running as presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party brought throngs of people into the center of Berlin, streaming into this city, surging to get close to him, to hear his message," while ABC featured the reaction of one German who proclaimed Obama "my new Messiah." [Audio/video (1:05): Windows Media (4.16 MB) and MP3 audio (370 kB)]
A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted during the trip found 67% of voters think the media want Obama to win. Are the other 33% blind?
For more, see the July 25 CyberAlert.