By John Dickerson
Last week a college student and first-time voter called NPR’s Talk of the Nation and said he felt that the media hasn’t been covering presidential candidate John McCain at all.
In the few days since that call, I’ve been watching the headlines, and I’ve noticed the guy had a point. So, today I offer the first of what could be many National News Tallies. (The life of the next tally depends on you, dear reader. E-mail this post to your friends, write fiery comments below, and I'll do the grunt work again next week.)
At approximately 4:45 p.m. EST on Friday, July 25, I visited the Web sites of the major national media outlets. I performed a simple search function to find the number of times each candidate’s name was mentioned on the front page of each site.
Findings: The news du jour for conservatives (FoxNews) actually mentions Obama five times more than McCain. The winner for most balanced goes to CNN.com (a 4-4 tie) and the Wall Street Journal (a 1-1 tie).
And now the results. Mentions per candidate on media homepages: New York Times (online) Obama: 9 McCain: 1
Los Angeles Times (online) Obama: 3 McCain: 1 Washington Post (online) Obama: 7 McCain: 3
Wall Street Journal (online) Obama: 1 McCain: 1
USA Today (online) Obama: 6 McCain: 2
Foxnews.com Obama: 7 McCain 2
CNN.com Obama: 4 McCain: 4
MSNBC.com Obama: 4 McCain: 3 Slate.com Obama: 6 McCain: 4
NPR.org Obama: 5 McCain: 4 Newsweek (online) Obama: 12 McCain: 10
Time magazine (online) Obama: 7 McCain: 3
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TOTAL of National Media Outlets Monitored Obama: 71 McCain: 38 ARIZONA NEWSPAPERS New Times (online) Obama: 1 McCain: 2 EV Trib (online) Obama: 1 McCain: 1 AZ Republic (online) Obama: 8 McCain: 3
Catch of the day is that someone at the Arizona Republic has learned how to tell the future. Check out this psychic headline, “Obama to give historic speech in Berlin.” We haven’t been to the future yet, but this writer already knows the speech will be historic . . . some day.
Please note that this search does not include photos (unless the name was in a caption), and it makes no effort to sort “positive” versus “negative” stories (which would be interesting but so subjective that it would be useless).
Disclaimer: I’m not terribly entertained by or impressed with either of this year’s presidential candidates. However, I am incredibly entertained by this year’s national coverage.