Harvard Study Confirms Media Blackout Torpedoed Sanders Chances

A new study from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy confirms poor media coverage badly hurt the Bernie Sanders campaign.

A study commissioned by Harvard has analyzed primary coverage of thousands of news statements issued by the largest corporate media outlets in the United States.

It found that coverage of Bernie Sanders at crucial parts of the race was too insignificant to make serious inroads to be successful in the campaign.

Furthermore, by the time coverage did pick up on Bernie it was far too late and even then the coverage was far less than given to any of the other candidates including not only Hillary Clinton but also lagging behind the top 5 GOP candidates –Trump, Bush, Cruz, Rubio, and Carson.

In fact Hillary received 3 times more coverage and after analyzing the data Harvard found that Hillary Clinton was the only candidate whose campaign generated an unfair balance of news coverage.

The study states that crucial period of campaign are months leading up to the primaries during which name-recognition and visibility are vital and the efforts of candidates that lack media attention during this period are almost certainly futile while candidate that do get coverage receive a huge boost.



From Reverb Press:

Harvard Study Confirms Bernie Sanders Campaign Was Hurt By Lack Of Media Coverage

A new study from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy confirms poor media coverage badly hurt the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Supporters of Bernie Sanders have long criticized the media for ignoring his campaign. A new study by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy validates that critique, finding Sanders received far less media exposure than any other major political candidate in the race.

The study analysed “thousands of news statements by CBS, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post,” and concludes Sanders’ lack of coverage was most severe during the crucial “invisible primary,” or the months leading up to the Republican and Democratic primaries, when name-recognition and visibility are vital.

The best indicator of who will win the nomination, write the authors, “is how well the candidates position themselves in the year leading up to the Iowa caucus. This period—’the invisible primary’—is when the candidates try to put in place the ingredients of a winning campaign.”

“In the early going, nothing is closer to pure gold than favorable free media exposure. It can boost a candidate’s poll standing and access to money and endorsements. Above all, it bestows credibility . . . The nominating campaigns of candidates who are ignored by the media are almost certainly futile, while the campaigns of those who receive close attention get a boost.”

Sanders found unprecedented support online, and built a grassroots movement that rocketed him to a competitive position with Clinton in the polls. The authors of the Harvard study say Sanders’ standing with mainstream media improved, but was still lagging far behind the other major contenders in the race. They conclude that the media blackout severely hindered his campaign from the ‘invisible primary’ onward.

“Less coverage of the Democratic side worked against Bernie Sanders’ efforts to make inroads on Clinton’s support. Sanders struggled to get badly needed press attention in the early going. With almost no money or national name recognition, he needed news coverage if he was to gain traction. His poll standing at the beginning of 2015 was barely more than that of the other lagging Democratic contenders, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb.

By summer, Sanders had emerged as Clinton’s leading competitor but, even then, his coverage lagged. Not until the pre-primary debates did his coverage begin to pick up, though not at a rate close to what he needed to compensate for the early part of the year. Five Republican contenders—Trump, Bush, Cruz, Rubio, and Carson—each had more news coverage than Sanders during the invisible primary. Clinton got three times more coverage than he did.”

Who Does The Media Love The Most? The Answer Will Surprise You.

The authors of the Harvard study say Hillary Clinton’s coverage was far more negative than Bernie Sanders or even Donald Trump—but that might not mean what you think it does.

Interestingly, the study indicates Sanders received the most favorable coverage of any candidate. The paper somewhat loosely defines “favorable coverage” as issue-oriented reporting with “good news” for a candidate, whereas unfavorable coverage is negative in tone and generally reports “bad news” for a candidate.

This explains why Donald Trump, the target of endless vitriolic editorials, also received more favorable coverage than any of his competitors. “Why was Trump’s coverage so favorable?” ask the authors. “Why did the watchdog press say so many positive things about Trump’s candidacy?”

The reason inheres in journalists’ tendency to build their narratives around the candidates’ positions in the race. This horserace focus leads them into four storylines: a candidate is ‘leading,’ ‘trailing,’ ‘gaining ground,’ or ‘losing ground.’ Of the four storylines, the most predictably positive one is that of the ‘gaining ground’ candidate, particularly when that candidate is emerging from the back of the pack. It’s a story of growing momentum, rising poll numbers, and ever larger crowds. The storyline invariably includes negative elements, typically around the tactics that the candidate is employing in the surge to the top. But the overall media portrayal of a ‘gaining ground’ candidate is a positive one.

To this end, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received the most unfavorable coverage of any candidate, primarily due to the email scandal. The authors note that “even the non-scandal portion of Clinton’s issue coverage—what she was saying on trade, jobs, foreign policy, and the like—was reported more negatively than positively.”

They conclude: “Clinton was the only one of the major candidates whose policy platform generated an unfavorable balance of news coverage.”


Read Full Article: Harvard Study Confirms Bernie Sanders Was Right: Media Blackout Badly Hurt Campaign

Read the full study here: Harvard Kennedy School

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