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Critics see pro-Obama media bias

With the lead anchors of ABC, CBS and NBC following Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama across Asia, the Middle East and Europe, are Americans seeing a media bias in favor of the Illinois senator?

A new Rasmussen Reports survey showed Monday that 60 percent of those surveyed said the media treats Obama better than Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, with 14 percent saying McCain gets more favorable coverage.

On Sunday, the media critic of the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz, said national media are in danger of undermining their credibility unless they post tough questions to Obama on the trip or try to even out their coverage. Kurtz, who has a media show on CNN, showed a string of Newsweek magazine covers of Obama as evidence of that publication's Democratic tilt.

Kurtz asked rhetorically whether reporters and news organizations were covering Obama "as if he were already president?" (Newsweek is owned by Kurtz's main employer, the Washington Post Company.)

Wolf Blitzer also raised the issue of media bias during his show on the left-leaning cable network, CNN.

Obama also got the break last week in print coverage, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Obama had a significant presence - 77 percent in the 342 print stories studied last week - compared to 48 percent for McCain.

As the debate swirled, the New York Times rejected an op-ed piece offered by McCain to expand on his views of the Iraq war. The Times did publish a piece on July 14 written by Obama on the same subject.

NBC News President Steve Capus told the Associated Press that he finds it funny this is an issue, considering how much people have accused the press corps — and still do — of being too cozy with McCain. The Arizona senator had been a frequent guest of "Meet the Press."

"We're just trying to do our jobs," Capus said. "There's no question that there's great news value in Sen. Obama's trip overseas. That's why we are doing this."

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh said, "my prediction is that the coverage of Obama on this trip will be oriented toward countering the notion he has no idea what he is talking about on foreign policy and defense issues and instead will prop him up as a qualified statesman. McCain, on the other hand, is a known quantity on these issues and his position does not excite nor fit the mainstream media's narrative on Iraq and Afghanistan, so they simply ignore it and him."

--- Douglas Turner      

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Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

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Tom Precious

Tom Precious

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Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

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Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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