Just as a similar report from the Shorenstein Center found in late October, a new study from Center for Media and Public Affairs finds that television news media reports more favorably on Barack Obama more than it does on Hillary Clinton:
On-air evaluations of Hillary Clinton were nearly 3 to 2 negative (42% positive vs. 58% negative comments), while evaluations of her closest competitor Barack Obama was better than 3 to 2 positive (61% positive vs. 39% negative). John Edwards attracted much less coverage, but his evaluations were 2 to 1 positive (67% positive vs. 33% negative). Sen. Clinton was evaluated more often than all her Democratic opponents combined.
The evidence that Clinton has faced a more difficult media gauntlet than Obama is mounting. Assuming for the moment that these studies are accurate, I have a simple question: why does the established media like Barack Obama more than they like Hillary Clinton? What is it about Obama that they like, which they also find lacking in Clinton?
I honestly can't figure this one out. Perhaps it is because of sexism, but the established media, especially the punditry within the established media, is just about the whitest profession in the country. Perhaps it is because of Obama's post-partisan, post-ideological talk, but remember that Hillary Clinton is a senior member of the established media's favorite political organization: the DLC. Both Clinton and Obama are from Illinois, they have voted about the same during their time in the Senate, and don't seem to scare the establishment much at all. Why then does Obama get more favorable coverage than Clinton?
There are only two theories that I find plausible. First, Clinton held large leads for several months in this campaign. As a result, both consciously and unconsciously, news outlets were waiting, hoping, and helping Clinton to stumble. Second, the Republican Noise Machine still exerts considerable influence over established, national news outlets, and the Noise Machine simply hates Clinton more than it hates Obama. Conservative activists have detested the Clintons so intensely and for so long that, that as a simple matter of emotional physics it is nearly impossible for them to hold the same level of disdain toward other Democrats. These things take time, and Obama just hasn't been around long enough yet in order to be declared the Anti-Christ.
Anyway, those are my theories. I'm very interested in hearing others.