Who do you love? Campaigns sparring over coverage


The period between cessation of primary hostilities and the onset of the national political conventions is supposed to provide at least somewhat of a lull in the presidential campaigns, and to an extent, this year has been no exception. However, the intense media coverage Barack Obama (D-IL) has garnered during his trip abroad has the campaign of John McCain (R-AZ) crying foul and searching for ways to grab some limelight for itself.

Weekly media coverage charts from the Project for Excellence in Journalism have shown a pullback from the saturation level coverage during key primary weeks, but the campaign sill commands nearly 30% of the newshole each and every week.

Sometimes, however, getting coverage is not necessarily a good thing. Some are suggesting that McCain is actually being helped by lack of coverage during a period when he has made a number of factual errors in front of live mics.

In fact, the Obama campaign charges that a love affair between McCain and the press corps dating back to his 2000 primary campaign v. George Bush is still alive and well, and that Obama would be raked over the coals had he made some of the same types of errors. Cited as evidence is an altered CBS interview between McCain and anchor Katie Couric in which one of McCain’s flubs was edited out and replaced with an answer he gave to a completely different question which occurred earlier in the session.

McCain, on the other hand, has cited a situation in which Obama was allowed space for an OpEd piece in the New York Times. McCain wrote a response, only to have it rejected by NYT, another incident which had the McCain camp crying foul. (NYT has stated that it would be happy to run a piece by McCain that met certain editorial concerns, and would be happy to negotiate an agreement to get a McCain piece on the same page.)

RBR/TVBR observation: Anybody watching the polls would be hard pressed to tell who was doing what when – at this stage of the campaign voter temperatures seem to follow a course with butterfly-like randomness. Much of what happens now may be rendered utterly meaningless by events in September and October. So much of what is going on now may be seen as working the ref.