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Study: News Media Tone Favors Romney, MSNBC Most Negative

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Mitt Romney's coverage has favored him a bit over Obama, but MSNBC has led in negative news commentary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney’s coverage has favored him a bit over Obama, but MSNBC has led in negative news commentary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Media coverage stemming from two cable channels, MSNBC and Fox, took on negative tones about both candidates – and MSNBC stood out the most.

On that channel, 71 percent of the segments studied about Romney were negative in nature during the 2012 campaign, compared with just 3% that were positive-a ratio of roughly 23-to-1.

On Fox, 46 percent of the segments about Obama were negative, compared with 6 percent that were positive-a ratio of about 8-to-1 negative. These made them unusual among channels or outlets that identified themselves as news organizations.

These are among the findings of the Pew Research Center’s Project For Excellence In Journalism’s analysis of 2,457 stories from 49 outlets from August 27, the week of the Republican convention, through October 21, five days after the second presidential debate.

Negative and positive tones went in-and-out of favor for each candidate at different points in the 2012 campaign.

In a sample that also includes cable and talk radio hosts, Romney fared somewhat more positively during his convention week than Obama during his.

The week of the GOP convention, 36 percent of the stories about Romney studied in the mainstream media outlets was positive compared with 15 percent negative-a margin of 21 points. The week of the Democratic gathering, 32 percent of the stories about Obama were positive compared with 22 percent negative-a gap of 10 points.

Since then, Obama’s coverage has turned somewhat negative, but is still far better than Romney’s. In the week following the conclusion of the conventions, September 10-16, 20 percent of the stories about Obama have been positive compared to 24 percent negative.

For Romney, the majority of stories (53 percent) that week were negative.

Of the 130 stories about Romney examined from the mainstream press that week, researchers found none in which positive assertions about Romney outnumbered negative ones by a ratio of three-to-two.

The mainstream press has also given more attention to Obama.

From Aug. 27 to Sept. 16, Obama was a bigger newsmaker than Romney with 667 stories about him and 477 for Romney.

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