The Invisible Primary — Invisible No Longer: A First Look at Coverage of the 2008 Presidential Campaign
This study by the Shorenstein Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that in the early months of the 2008 presidential campaign, the media had already winnowed the race to mostly five candidates and offered Americans relatively little information about their records or what they would do if elected. The press also gave some candidates measurably more favorable coverage than others. Democrat Barack Obama, the junior Senator from Illinois, enjoyed by far the most positive treatment of the major candidates during the first five months of the year – followed closely by Fred Thompson, the actor who at the time was only considering running. Arizona Senator John McCain received the most negative coverage – much worse than his main GOP rivals. Meanwhile, the tone of coverage of the two party front runners, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, was virtually identical, and more negative than positive.