White House press secretary Jay Carney once considered evidence that the press overwhelmingly favored Obama “a fair assessment.”
On his TIME blog on Oct. 28, 2008, then-journalist Jay Carney authored a quick, one-line post entitled “Politico on Press Bias.”
“Politico honchos [John] Harris and [Jim] Vandehei pen a fair assessment of the evidence – and the criticism – that the press in this election cycle has favored Obama and disfavored McCain,” Carney wrote.
In the linked piece — “Why McCain is getting hosed in the press” — Harris and VandeHei responded to criticism from their mothers and a recent Pew poll that confirmed the phenomenon.
“The Project for Excellence in Journalism’s researchers found that John McCain, over the six weeks since the Republican convention, got four times as many negative stories as positive ones. The study found six out of 10 McCain stories were negative,” the pair wrote. (RELATED OPINION: Lapdog media seeks lap to lie on)
But Harris and VandeHei argued that liberal biases among journalists ranked low in influencing glowing Obama news coverage.
Instead, Obama “has benefited from the idea that negative attacks that in a normal campaign would be commonplace in this year would carry an out-of-bounds racial subtext,” wrote Harris and VandeHei.
And Obama predominantly benefited from a “bias in favor of momentum,” they wrote, with reporters regularly penning tougher pieces about Sen. John McCain because he was behind in the polls.
“This is why the bulk of negative stories about McCain are not about his ideology or policy plans — they are about intrigue and turmoil,” the pair suggested.
Obama, on the other hand, “has benefited from his ability to minimize internal drama and maximize secrecy — and thus to starve the press’s bias for palace intrigue.”
Carney’s reaction? “[F]air assessment.”
In recent weeks, reporters have begun to clamor publicly about the White House providing limited access to Obama in his second term.
And following a publicly revealed — and allegedly combative — exchange between longtime Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward and Obama deputy Gene Sperling, reporters used Thursday’s press briefing to question the manner White House aides handle the press. (RELATED: How Woodward played the conservative media)
Carney sought to console the assembled reporters by explaining that their relationship with the White House is less “tense” than it was in past administrations.
“I would suggest that the atmosphere in this room was a lot more tense when I got here in 1993 than it is today,” Carney said.