So much for the ‘liberal’ media

It’s simply taken as a given in Republican circles that President Obama enjoys favorable coverage from major media outlets. This is generally pretty hard to believe among non-conservatives, but it’s helpful to take this out of the realm of perception and into more quantifiable analysis.

The Pew Research Center published this report today with some striking results.

Rick Perry received the most favorable coverage of any candidate for president during the first five months of the race, but now Herman Cain is enjoying that distinction, according to a new survey which combines traditional research methods and computer algorithmic technology to code the level and tone of news coverage.

Perry lost the mantle of the candidate enjoying the most favorable treatment to Herman Cain two weeks ago, after the Florida straw poll in which Cain scored a surprise victory. Meanwhile, though he has often led in the polls, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has received less coverage and less positive coverage than the shifting casts of frontrunners — and that remains true even now. He ranks second in the amount of attention received, and the tone of that narrative has been unwaveringly mixed.

One man running for president has suffered the most unrelentingly negative treatment of all: Barack Obama. Though covered largely as president rather than a candidate, negative assessments of Obama have outweighed positive by a ratio of almost 4-to-1. The assessments of the president in the media were substantially more negative than positive in every one of the 23 weeks studied. In no week during these five months was more than 10% of the coverage about the President positive in tone.

The accompanying chart really helped drive the point home:

The image shows coverage by candidate, with those receiving more favorable coverage higher up on the chart. That candidate way down there at the bottom? That’s the president.

Obama’s coverage “has been substantially more negative in every one of the last 23 weeks of the last five months — even the week that Bin Laden was killed,” Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said of the president’s treatment in the media compared with that of the GOP field.

“Liberal” media, indeed.