Does Obama Get More Media Than McCain?

What compelled the McCain campaign to air an ad featuring Sen. Barack Obama with images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton? The Republican's supporters may harbor burning resentment at Obama's success with the news media.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DANIEL SCHORR: I've been reflecting for the past week on what compelled the McCain camp to air a peculiar TV commercial associating Senator Barack Obama with two hardly political celebrities - Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

That's NPR senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr.

SCHORR: My conclusion was that the act reflected burning resentment at Obama's greater success with the news medium. The McCain people view his success as more a cultivation of celebrityhood than any real merit. There's no doubt that Obama has done better than McCain at numbers of words and pictures. In the past three years, Obama has been featured on the covers of Time and Newsweek 12 times to McCain's five.

American University instructor Richard Benedetto has counted candidate photos that appeared in the Washington Post between June 4th and July 14th. He found 78 McCain pictures to 122 Obama pictures. This may not be famous for being famous as in the case of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and no candidate is called a rock star which would be the ultimate in fame. But for many a McCain supporters that lopsided attention to the opponent causes them to raise the issue of fairness, all the news media obligated to preserve some balance in a tightly fought race for the greatest position in the land.

It is not a question which the same people raise about conservative talk shows, but never mind. There used to be a legislated fairness doctrine meant to insure political balance on the airwaves. That was abolished by the Federal Communications Commission in 1985 in the interest of journalistic freedom.

And so, as President Kennedy said about life, don't look for fairness in political campaigns. And if the McCain people chose to liken Senator Obama to a rock star like those two sexy women, well, no use yelling unfair.

This is Daniel Schorr.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: