August 17, 2011

Are the Media Ignoring Ron Paul?

# of Stories
Barack Obama 221
Mitt Romney 120
Newt Gingrich 112
Michele Bachmann 108
Donald Trump 94
Sarah Palin 85
Tim Pawlenty 52
Jon Huntsman 44
Rick Perry 33
Ron Paul 27
Rick Santorum 21
Herman Cain 11

24% – Percentage of Ron Paul’s campaign coverage in 2011 compared to Donald Trump’s

In the days after his runner-up finish to Michele Bachmann in Iowa’s August 13 GOP straw poll, Texas Congressman Ron Paul complained about a lack of media coverage, accusing the press of being “frightened by me challenging the status quo and the establishment."

As pundits debate whether Paul is getting the attention he deserves, a PEJ analysis of campaign coverage this year indicates he is the 10th leading election newsmaker— trailing far behind non-candidates Donald Trump and Sarah Palin and as well as floundering Republican hopeful Newt Gingrich.

From January 1-August 14, Paul has been a dominant newsmaker in only 27 campaign stories. (To be considered a dominant newsmaker, someone must be featured in at least 50% of a story.) That is less than one-quarter of the media attention generated by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (120 stories), who is the top newsmaker among Republican candidates. And he has received 25% as much coverage as Bachmann, the Minnesota Congresswoman (108 stories).

Paul’s coverage also lags far behind Trump (94 stories), who dallied with a run before opting out in mid-May and Palin (85 stories), who has given no indication to date that she will enter the race. In addition, Paul trails longshot candidate and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (44 stories) and Texas Governor, Rick Perry (33 stories) who only announced his candidacy on August 13.

The only significant GOP candidates that Paul is besting are former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (21 stories) and businessman Herman Cain (11 stories).

The top campaign newsmaker overall is incumbent President Barack Obama, at 221 stories.

In a further attempt to gauge the post-straw poll attention to Paul’s campaign, PEJ also used the Snapstream server’s closed captioning capability to assess the candidates’ television coverage in the first few days after that balloting.

The sample included the three network Sunday morning panel shows on August 14, the morning and evening network news programs on August 15 and four hours of prime-time cable and one hour of daytime from each of the three major cable news networks on August 15.

According to that analysis, Paul was mentioned just 29 times. By comparison, Perry was mentioned 371 times, Bachmann was mentioned 274 times, and Romney was mentioned 183 times.

Tricia Sartor of PEJ