PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

Tone of Media Coverage of Bush and Kerry Debates, 2004

The tone of the press coverage of the debates in 2004 was highly negative for Presidential Bush. Nearly 60% of the stories were critical of the President, more than twice the percentage for challenger John Kerry.

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

How Newspapers Framed the Race

In print, the impact of the debates on the horse race was still a dominant theme, but regional papers were more likely to simply report what the candidates said than national papers were, and other themes got more attention than they did on television.

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

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.

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

Who Was Covered in Newspapers

Most of the newspaper stories of the presidential debates focused on both candidates. 

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

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. 

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

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.

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

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.

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

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. 

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

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.

PublicationsOctober 27, 2004

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.