McCain win would shock the media

Published 6:53 pm Thursday, October 23, 2008

Despite what you may have heard, the presidential race is tightening between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain.

And, I predict, that if Obama loses, the post-election analysis will not include one of the most significant aspects of the race — namely, the media’s completely one-sided coverage.

Republicans have argued for the last six months that the media are “in the tank” for Obama. The evidence seems to suggest they have a point.

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CNN, for instance, reported this week that McCain was conceding Colorado to Obama.

The only problem is that McCain hasn’t given up on the Rocky Mountain state.

Indeed, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin spoke to 22,000 people in Grand Junction, a record according to city officials.

CNN also alleged that the conservative magazine, National Review, said Palin was “incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward, or — or, well, all of the above.”

The only problem there is the exact quote from National Review begins “Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it’s sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is …”

Clearly, CNN wants to dampen any GOP enthusiasm for the race, hoping Republicans stay home.

CNN is not the only outlet with such a strategy. Here are some examples from the nation’s leading press organizations:

“McCain’s Struggles Leave a G.O.P. Incumbent to Fight a Democratic Tide,” blared The New York Times Wednesday.

“Democrat Remains Well Ahead,” claimed the Washington Post Tuesday. The story cited a Washington Post poll showing a nine-point lead for Obama among likely voters.

The problem is that the poll was conducted more than a week ago, before the third presidential debate.

In contrast, an Associated Press poll taken after the debate showed a dead heat in the race among likely voters, 44 percent for Obama, 43 for McCain.

“Poll: Obama opens biggest lead over McCain,” trumpeted MSNBC.

The lead paragraph reads as follows:

“With voters’ increased confidence in his ability to serve as commander in chief, as well as a majority who now believe he would do a good job as president, Barack Obama has opened up his biggest advantage over John McCain in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.”

But the 10-point lead was among registered voters, not likely voters. Studies have shown that about half of registered voters actually vote in any given election.

To be sure, other factors will contribute to an Obama loss.

But Americans’ essential sense of fairness may lead to a real November surprise. And most flabbergasted will be the national media.

Chris Warden is an assistant professor at Troy University’s Hall School of Journalism. He was formerly the editorial page editor for Investors’ Business Daily.