Topic: Media Research Center
On Aug. 29, the Media Research Center released a study claiming that network morning shows have devoted more time to covering Democratic presidential candidates than to Republican candidates. Needless to say, there are a couple of holes in MRC's methodology that misleadingly pump up Democratic numbers.
Tim Graham sorta concedes one in an Aug. 30 NewsBusters post, responding to criticism of the study by the morning shows themselves (reported by the Associated Press) that coverage of Elizabeth Edwards' cancer relapse was included in the total. Graham wrote:
It's a decent argument to suggest that Elizabeth Edwards interviews about her cancer shouldn't count as campaign coverage. But her interviews are often partially (or even barely) about her illness, and mostly about her husband's campaign, or her husband's squabbles with Ann Coulter. Elizabeth's cancer is a constant undercurrent in their campaign, as in suggesting they know how important universal health care would be -- because of her illness. But it doesn't dominate her interviews when she's been on.
Graham offers no evidence to support these claims, however.
The study went on to assert that "the networks also aired more stories about the never-declared candidacy of former Democratic Vice President Al Gore than the actual candidacies of Republicans [Mitt] Romney and [Rudy] Giuliani," noting that Gore "was a network guest eight times, getting more than 48 minutes of airtime," later citing its methology behind it: "MRC analysts only counted interviews in which a potential Gore presidential campaign was discussed." But nowhere does the study note what we can likely surmise -- that much of the Gore coverage was centered around his global warming activism, specifically his promotion of the Live Earth concerts and his winning of an Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth."
The study suggests as much, claiming that "Gore’s coverage consisted of praise for his work on behalf of a liberal global warming agenda." And nowhere does the study note that Gore has repeatedly disavowed serious interest in running for president in 2008.
It appears that if interviewers asked just a single question pondering if Gore was running in 2008 -- again, despite his repeatedly expressed lack of interest in doing so -- the MRC apparently counted the entire interview as coverage of a "Democratic presidential candidate." That's a stretch.