Is the Mainstream Media Protecting Obama?

Conservative pundits, and even some moderate independents, are wondering if the mainstream media has begun giving Obama a push to the finish line in the national election – by up-playing Romney campaign problems and downplaying some of Obama's economic and foreign policy missteps.

"The gap between the way the media characterizes the presidential race and what is actually happening is growing larger by the day. In particular, we see a systematic emphasis on news items that favor the president and a discounting of evidence that disfavor him," wrote moderate independent poll analyst Jay Cost recently in a blog post for conservative magazine The Weekly Standard.

"The mainstream media's recent coverage of the Democratic National Convention was fawning – little or no mention was made of the extremist abortion plank or the decisive defeat on the floor of the motion to reinstate a reference to God in the platform (nevertheless gaveled through by the party establishment) and an acknowledgment that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel (pro-Israel language that had been included in previous party platforms)," Cost asserted.

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Conservative outlet DC Examiner reported recently that CNN reporter Peter Hamby tweeted an Obama donation request form to all of his followers, which produced a chorus of protests from pundits. Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters asserted: "Not to quibble, but for my money reporters shilling for Obama reached the height of journalistic malpractice during the DNC when they gave fake names so they could buy official Obama-Biden paraphernalia and contribute to the re-election campaign."

Meanwhile, other items of interest that normally received front page coverage but were relegated to more obscure inside placement included a dismal August jobs report, flat retail sales, a decrease in manufacturing of more than 1 percent and an average $0.04 increase in gas prices. All of these news stories would support Romney campaign assertions, pundits argue.

But maybe an even more glaring indication of some favoritism toward Obama is how the media has covered the most recent unrest in the Middle East.

In the hours preceding the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, State Department officials tweeted a comment condemning verbal attacks on Islam, in particular a YouTube video that mocked Muhammad that eventually became the center of political controversy in the U.S. The Romney camp quickly issued a statement criticizing the statements, but then endured a storm of criticism from both media sources and the White House for "shooting first and aiming second."

"While the media gleefully and supportively report Obama's laughable exercise in projection in depicting Romney as one who shoots first and aims later, they ignore Obama's abdication of his foreign policy duties to free up his schedule for campaigning," wrote columnist David Limbaugh.

Although White House spokesperson Jay Carney has consistently laid the blame for the violence in Libya on the YouTube video, information has now surfaced that U.S. intelligence knew specifically of a call by a top al-Qaida leader inciting Libyans to "rise up against America." Pundits argue that the media is downplaying the fact that the U.S. may have had intelligence on the attack beforehand.

"Meanwhile, Obama sends mixed messages on terrorism, which he dare not call by its name, and snubs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then lies about it, he soaks up the love in Las Vegas and at other campaign stops, all of which he may do, free of scrutiny, because of a press corps dedicated solely to getting him re-elected," Limbaugh continued.

The public may not be surprised at the coverage. A Gallup poll conducted in September 2011 shows that a significant majority of Americans do feel a media bias exists and tilts toward the left.

"The majority of Americans (60 percent) also continue to perceive bias, with 47 percent saying the media are too liberal and 13 percent saying they are too conservative, on par with what Gallup found last year. The percentage of Americans who say the media are 'just about right' edged up to 36 percent this year but remains in the range Gallup has found historically," Gallup reported.

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