Study: Fox News, MSNBC more 'extreme' in final week of campaign
November 20th, 2012
02:17 PM ET
2 years ago

Study: Fox News, MSNBC more 'extreme' in final week of campaign

(CNN) - A new study finds the discrepancy between Fox News and MSNBC's coverage of the two presidential candidates differed most substantially during the final week of the campaign compared to the rest of the press' coverage of the election.

While the study, conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, shows two cable news channels differed from the rest of the media's coverage about the candidates throughout the election, the difference was more pronounced from October 29 through November 5, the final week of the campaign.

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"In the final week of the campaign, both Fox News and MSNBC became even more extreme in how they differed from the rest of the press in coverage of the two candidates," said the Pew Research Center about this portion of the study's findings.

"Fox News was much more positive about (Mitt) Romney than the press as a whole and substantially more negative about (President Barack) Obama. MSNBC was even more overwhelmingly negative about Romney and offered mostly positive coverage about Obama."

The study indicates Fox News' negative coverage of Obama grew from 47% in the first four weeks of October to 56% in the final week, while positive coverage of Romney grew eight points, from 34% to 42%, in the final week.

Meanwhile on MSNBC, positive coverage of Obama grew from 33% during the first four weeks of October to 51% in the last week. MSNBC's negative coverage of Romney increased 11 points in the last week, from 57% to 68%.

In the final week of the campaign, news focused around Superstorm Sandy, its devastating effect on the East Coast and emergency response on both the federal and local level. Overall, the president received more positive coverage during the final week while the tone of Romney's coverage remained similar to previous weeks. The study stated the storm appeared to reduce the amount of coverage Romney received leading up to the election and may have influenced attitudes about Obama.

The study was conducted from October 22 through November 5, the last 15 days of the campaign, among 660 stories from 49 mainstream outlets.


Filed under: 2012
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    MSNBC has far fewer "news" shows than what Fox News lays claim to have. When you see a news show on MSNBC, you know you are watching a news program because there are opinions being offered: i.e. First Look. The majority of the rest of MSNBC programming makes no pretense to being "news" shows. You cannot find a "news" program on Fox that does not editorialize and opinionate during some part of the broadcast. If so, please tell me.

    November 20, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  2. Guest

    Yes James, the research about which this article is based has CNN in the middle. About your headline – yeah, not CNN at its best but there are plenty of examples where they worded things in a way that skews Republican. CNN's not perfect, but they're vastly better than Fox or MSNBC. The whole reason so many republicans were surprised by the election results is because Fox has been lying to them for four years. The reason CNN seems pro-Obama is because for the most part CNN reporting is fair ... and for the most part, Obama has been doing a good job.

    November 20, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. sad

    They need to establish some objective measuring tools.

    Rate informational content of a news story
    Rate relevance of news items

    Running 10 bad stories on a person is not necessarily biased, in the case of them doing 10 bad things.

    The problem with reporting just straight numbers is that it disregards rehashes, which contribute nil info content. Its the equivalent of beating a dead horse for exposure reasons: nothing less than a PR campaign.

    The bias of reporters is so thick now that reasonable viewers immediately know who the media supports, even if they dont explicitly state it.

    Occassionally you have a person with their head so far up their butt that they think CNN was on team Romney, but persons are not sane.

    November 20, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. Scientist

    But the real question is: which network had the most accurate information, based on the final election results? That would be MSNBC. Reality is what counts, not a false "balanced" view just to be PC. Tell it to me straight, Anderson, even if that is "pro-Obama".

    November 20, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. tuscany590

    Some of these comments are pretty funny..MSNBC shouldn't even be on the air, Fox has only (1) guy in prime time that is right leaning, Hannity, & CNN is biased too.. But the left has ABC, NBC, CBS & mostly every newspaper in the country spewing the propaganda. Many who down Fox, don't even watch it. I sometimes watch CNN, except for O'Brien, but only about a minute of PMSNBC.

    November 20, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  6. Dan

    And CNN stayed at 100% positive for Obama & 100% negative for Romney. A network that employs the likes of Don Lemon, Soledad O'Brien & Piers Morgan is no better than MSDNC. CNN was in the tank for Obama this election the whole time, so there is no need to report that!

    The network without bias should throw the first stone.

    November 20, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. wl

    It is interesting that it is against other media. We all know they are Obama fans so I guess FOX is in the centre.

    November 20, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. norma jean

    Heavier in October and November..??? .....what's so surprising about that considering that they are both politically oriented??????

    November 20, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  9. Gerry Daley

    Somehow calling GOX a news network seems to be a total mis-use of the term. "Opinion" and "Propaganda" are better choices.

    November 20, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  10. John the Historian

    Fox news is only for angry white men. Fox represents the TV version of Rush. Since the Republican party is now only the party of the dying Christian Right who want a theocracy and hate Gays and anything dealing with abortion, the military industry complex who want the USA to go to war with Iran, a country of 80 million people. the corporate elite of Wall Street who want bailout money and bonuses to continue, and the billionaires like Rupert Murdoch and Willard Romney who don't want to pay their fair share of taxes and don't give their employees health care. Fox News is only GOP propaganda and needs to be shut down. Thank goodness the British have seen through Rupert Murdoch and Canada has banned Fox News. Fox is not news. Please shut down.

    November 20, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  11. Dan

    One note: this article is coming from CNN, who allowed the ultra liberal Candy Crowley to deliver the 2nd debate to President Obama & she admitted she would do it again! CNN, please, you were Obama 100% biased, in-the-tank, in love infactuated with him. Now that the election is over, do you think Americans are stupid enough to believe that CNN is somehow non-partisan? What a joke.

    November 20, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  12. CArl lagnford

    Interestingg note – Fox – teh repubs spin machine, is banned in Cnada for gross lying.

    Same thing in Britain but only on state run TV

    November 20, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Bill from GA

    MSNBC stretches the truth about 10% (mainly Ed), Fox 'news' tells the truth about 10% (mainly Shep). CNN is just boring (except Erin Burnett, sometmes).

    November 20, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. Bill from GA

    I get REAL news on the computer. The rest is mostly entertainment.

    November 20, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. joedamico

    CNN, you do know you are known as the Little FOX and have been for almost a year. Stopped watching CNN when you started looking like Fox News. Not really news at all. Before the Bush years we always whtched FOX then when they started with the lies we watched CNN, then CNN got as bad as FOX so no longer watch CNN. Cable news news has gone way down hill.

    November 20, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. Prosperid

    At least, MSNBC had their ELECTORATE MAP correct (thanks to Nate Silver). Unlike the delusional FOX. Which is 10 times more misleading and bias.

    November 20, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. Honestly?

    There was a good long time that I watched Fox. I lived in complete fear the sky was falling, only to learn they were the ones pulling it down. Give me MSNBC any day of the week. It's the 1st thing I turn on in the morning. I have no delusions as to what the anchors of my favorite programs feel. That's why I watch them (like-minded)

    November 20, 2012 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  18. EvryBdyU_noWillDie1Day

    Want unbiased US news? Tune in the BBC.

    And riddle me this increase in some sort of coverage from this % to that % -- Percent of what? total coverage, coverage of the candidate alone. Percentages are meaningless without knowing what the base is.

    November 20, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. KevinTO

    You know what is extreme to me. Having Van Jones, an avowed socialist and communist sympathizer, on your election night panel. Wonder who did that?

    November 20, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. hahaney

    When a network seems to favor Obama it might just be reporting the truth. As Stephen Colbert said, "Reality ha a well known Liberal bias".

    November 20, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. REDFIREBALL

    The Media supported Obama. There are times when CNN pretended to support Romney as a smoke screen. I watch CNN to see how it spins for Obama in the coming weeks - between Benghazi-gate, Susan Rice, Mideast crisis, Cabinet appointments (will Obama's boyfriend MA Gov Deval Patrick accepted AG position?), and the Media-hyped "Fiscal Cliff." CNN invented this cliff to persuade Republicans to go Obama's way. There will be no tax hikes on top 2%. It's bad for an economy headed back into even DEEPER recession. CNN and MSNBC helped Obama get re-elected. Let's see how it works out for them in the coming weeks.

    November 20, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. KBNJ

    My initial reaction to this article was.."duh". Nothing wrong with the article, mind you. BUT...CNN's (and most other "centered" outlets) coverage and bias has been increasingly left. The one thing CNN has a LOT of atoning for is not even so much Candy's "fact check" gone wrong, but the follow-up "fact checks" that were outright lies. Pres. Obama delivered a very nice address in the Rose Garden 9/12, complete with mention that we would not tolerate "acts of terror". Yes, a person could reasonably assume he was thinking this MIGHT be terrorism, but he very clearly and deliberately DID NOT call it terrorism. CNN covered up Candy's game-changing interruption, and most people believed them. That's a national disgrace and an affront to Democracy.

    November 20, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. just sayin

    i mean cbs sat on their 60 minutes interview that they conveniently edited out obama's statements where he refused to call it a terrorist attack the day after. they knew they had that and they knew it was explosive, especially after the second debate. had cbs released it after the second debate and proved romney correct, obama would have been damaged tremendously because he would have been caught lying, yet again. but they withheld it to hurt romney, just as the cnn moderator falsely hurt romney in the debate. the entire lsm was in the tank for obama. only a kooladie drinker would deny it.

    November 20, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. REDFIREBALL

    Let's see how CNN and MSNBC tout Shame Duck Clinton's visit to the Mideast after tip-toeing around Obambi-poo poo's Indonesian boy toy trices. Piers morgan knows what all about it. The Media supported Obama. There are times when CNN pretended to support Romney as a smoke screen. I watch CNN to see how it spins for Obama in the coming weeks – between Benghazi-gate, Susan Rice, Mideast crisis, Cabinet appointments (will Obama's boyfriend MA Gov Deval Patrick accepted AG position?), and the Media-hyped "Fiscal Cliff." CNN invented this cliff to persuade Republicans to go Obama's way. There will be no tax hikes on top 2%. It's bad for an economy headed back into even DEEPER recession. CNN and MSNBC helped Obama get re-elected. Let's see how it works out for them in the coming weeks.

    November 20, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Patrick

    Amazingly, conservatives believe every network in America is boased EXCEPT fox news.

    November 20, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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