Who Newspaper Stories Impacted
The insider horse race focus of the debate coverage in 2004 is evident in who the stories talked about being impacted. Only about a quarter of newspaper stories focused on things that would directly affect citizens in the debates, such as policy positions.
Who Was Covered in Newspapers
Most of the newspaper stories of the presidential debates focused on both candidates.
Tone of Newspaper Coverage of Kerry and Bush
Nearly seven out of ten newspaper stories about Bush’s debate performance were negative, compared with three out of ten about Kerry. This was similar to what people saw on television.
Dominant Frame in Candidate-Focused Newspaper Stories
Newspapers framed stories that focused on Bush in the debates on how they affected his standing in the horse race. Stories about Kerry were just as likely, in contrast, to be straight forward news accounts of what was said.
Who Was Covered on Network News
As in print, most of the stories on network TV about the presidential debates in 2004 were about both candidates, not focused on one or the other.
Tone of Network Coverage of Kerry and Bush
On network television, the tone of the debate coverage in 2004 was even more positive for John Kerry than in the media overall. Nearly six in ten stories were positive about Kerry, compared with less than two in ten for Bush.
How Network News Framed the Campaign
On network news, how the debates might impact the horse race overwhelmed any other theme coming out of the event.
Who Network News Stories Impacted
Roughly eight out of ten news stories about the presidential candidates during the primaries in 2000 focused on things that affected politicians rather than citizens.
How the Blogs Framed The Campaign
Bloggers, like traditional media, focused heavily on the impact of the debates on the horse race, but they were also much more likely to discuss policy and candidate fitness.
The Debate Effect
A PEJ study on how the press covered the pivotal period of the 2004 Presidential Campaign.