Kurtz: Is Journalism Giving One Candidate Twice the Coverage?

On Sunday, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz continued his mission of exposing the absurd amount of coverage the media are giving to Barack Obama as compared to John McCain.

On CNN's "Reliable Sources," Kurtz amazingly asked his guests, "Where does journalism get off saying it's OK to give one candidate twice as much coverage -- this week, I would say four times as much coverage -- as the other candidate running for president?"

This followed last Sunday's warning by Kurtz that "there could be a big backlash against news organizations if this trend continues":

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Mark Halperin, many smart journalists are telling me that it's OK, that it's justified to lavish all this coverage on Obama, not just this week, although this week is the sort of classic example of it, because he's such a fascinating figure and people are just more curious about him than they are about John McCain.

Do you buy that?

MARK HALPERIN, SR. POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": No, I don't think that's OK. I think, look, talking about this past week is interesting and important, talking about the campaign to date. What I'm interested in is going forward.

Historically, Republicans have felt there's a bias in the coverage towards the Democrats. It's clear in this case that Senator Obama is a news story, he is interesting, and we'll have to grapple with how to balance our coverage taking that into account. But we have to be focused on, again, going forward, making this equal, having the coverage be seen as equal and actually be equal in as many ways, as often as we can. This trip though was an exception.

KURTZ: Well, here's a magazine cover that's not equal. "People" magazine has got Obama up on the cover with his family, "The Obamas at Home." This follows the "US Weekly" cover on Obama, and the "Rolling Stone" cover -- covers on Obama.

Where does journalism get off saying it's OK to give one candidate twice as much coverage -- this week, I would say four times as much coverage -- as the other candidate running for president?

STEVE ROBERTS, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I do think there is an imbalance. As Mark says, look, the essential word in news is "new." And Obama is new.

Barack Obama and his family are still -- people are learning about them, so there is a certain justification for the imbalance. But I do think it's gone overboard.

I think Hillary Clinton felt the same way, that a lot of reporters had fallen in love with Barack Obama and the gushing coverage. Now, we're starting to see some jokes about it. Jon Stewart says Barack Obama made a side trip to Bethlehem to visit the manger he was born in. You're starting to see, I think in a healthy way, people starting to make fun of this.

KURTZ: Candy Crowley, I do have to point out that when John McCain in March went to many of these same countries in Europe, CNN did not send a correspondent, a lot of news organizations didn't send a correspondent. That is part of the imbalance in my view.

Yes it is, Howard. If only a lot more of your colleagues agreed, and, as a result, began acting like journalists instead of Obama supporters.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.