MSNBC had more negative reporting about Mitt Romney than Fox News had toward Barack Obama, a new study from the Pew Research Center found.
Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism analyzed the tone of news coverage between Aug. 27 and Oct. 21 and found that both candidates overall received more negative reporting than positive. That divide was more pronounced for Romney on MSNBC and for Obama on Fox News, but MSNBC's negative coverage of Romney still outstripped Fox's reporting on Obama.
The study also reveals the degree to which the two cable channels that have built themselves around ideological programming, MSNBC and Fox, stand out from other mainstream media outlets. And MSNBC stands out the most. On that channel, 71% of the segments studied about Romney were negative in nature, compared with just 3% that were positive -- a ratio of roughly 23-to-1. On Fox, 46% of the segments about Obama were negative, compared with 6% that were positive -- a ratio of about 8-to-1 negative. These made them unusual among channels or outlets that identified themselves as news organizations.
According to the study, Obama enjoyed an overall positive coverage advantage until his widely-panned performance in the first presidential debate on Oct. 3, after which his edge disappeared virtually overnight. Before the first debate, Obama's coverage was 22 percent positive and 27 percent negative, compared to Romney's 11 percent positive and 44 percent negative.
That flipped after the debate, when Obama's coverage turned 13 percent positive and 36 percent negative to Romney's 20 percent positive and 30 percent negative.