In the first official week of the general election, the differences between Barack Obama and John McCain on issues ranging from the economy to Iraq constituted the media’s main campaign narrative. Together, the debates over several key issues accounted for almost one-third—29%—of the campaign newshole, as measured by PEJ’s Campaign Coverage Index for June 9-15, 2008.
But that didn’t mean there wasn’t a fair amount of attention paid to some controversies and gaffes. Led by coverage of the resignation of Obama’s vice-presidential search leader James Johnson, a handful of controversies finished second behind the issues (at 18%) as a narrative theme last week. Trailing in third place (at 13%) was coverage of the candidates’ efforts to heal the wounds left by the primary battles—particularly the bruising Democratic contest.
In a relatively light week of campaign coverage, Obama topped McCain in the race for exposure. The Democrat appeared as a significant or dominant newsmaker in 77% of the week’s campaign stories compared with 55% for the GOP candidate. The week also represented the moment that Hillary Clinton appeared to finally recede from center stage. A week removed from her withdrawal speech, Clinton was a significant or dominant factor in only 10% of the stories.
Read the full report Barack Makes More News Than McCain, But It’s Not All Good on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.