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June 10, 2008

Volume 2, Number 6

Media Tout Obama's "Magic Moment" But Public Sees Bias

After NBC's Tim Russert on May 6 crowned Senator Barack Obama as the inevitable Democratic nominee, the Illinois Senator garnered just 41.1% of the vote in the six remaining primaries, to Hillary Clinton's 58.9%. Nevertheless, the media chose not to highlight Obama's weakness with voters last week, but the "magic moment" of Obama finally gaining his party's nomination.

ABC broke into regular programming Tuesday night for a lengthy (23 minute) special report: "It is just over 50 years since America officially desegregated its schools," anchor Charlie Gibson celebrated, "and now, an African-American nominated for President." The next night, Gibson and his CBS and NBC counterparts treated Obama to a series of softball interviews on their evening newscasts.

"When everybody clears out, the staff is gone, you're in the hotel room at night, and you're alone, do you say to yourself, ‘Son of a gun, I've done this?'" Gibson wondered. CBS's Katie Couric giddily asked Obama: "Did you ever think you'd see this day?" That night's CBS Evening News ended with a report from Byron Pitts that cast Obama as a civil rights pioneer, not an ambitious politician: "Barack Obama and his wife Michelle walked into history's arms last night....One of America's oldest and ugliest color lines has been broken." Pitts later confessed to CNN's Howard Kurtz that he was "certainly" excited by Obama's candidacy.

Over on MSNBC, Chris Matthews luxuriated in "last night's magic moment for a lot of Americans, in fact, me included." As the TV screen showed Barack and Michelle Obama bumping fists, Matthews was thrilled: "That picture is right out of Camelot, as far as I'm concerned." [Audio/video (0:33): Windows Media (2.09 MB) and MP3 audio (146 kB)]

Two new polls show that most Americans recognize the supposedly objective news media's preference for Obama. A Pew Research Center survey of 1,002 adults released Thursday asked about media bias in the Democratic race; more than four times as many (37%) thought reporters favored Obama as saw a tilt in favor of Clinton (just 8%). A Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely voters released Sunday found nearly seven out of ten "believe most reporters try to help the candidate that they want to win" — and more than half (54%) "say Obama has gotten the best coverage so far."

For more, see the June 4, 5 and 9 CyberAlerts



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