Back When TV Had a Pro-Bush Bias

Monday's Washington Post and Washington Times each write about the latest Center for Media and Public Affairs content analysis of presidential news. The headline is that ABC, CBS and NBC awarded the current President Bush with mostly bad press during the first 100 days of both his first and second terms, what used to be a normal honeymoon period for freshly-elected presidents.

I was at CMPA and helped set up its project tracking presidential news back in 1989. As both papers noted today, those same networks gave the first President Bush mostly good press during his first 100 days -- 61 percent good press for the father, compared to 67 percent bad press for the son in his second term (and 71 percent bad press in his first term).

But the father's good press back in '89 doesn't refute the idea of liberal bias. At the time, reporters were reacting to 41's not-so-subtle promises of a "kinder, gentler" government, seen as digs at Ronald Reagan's boldly conservative approach. To reporters, Bush I was a step in the right (left?) direction.

Another tidbit from the 1989 study: While ABC and NBC gave the first Bush a kind and gentle honeymoon (85 and 63 percent good press, respectively), the CBS Evening News did not (61 percent bad press). That was, you might recall, just a year after Dan Rather's famous blow-up interview on Iran-contra.

Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes
Rich Noyes is the Senior Editor for Newsbusters