WASHINGTON: Not only did President Bush receive little more than
half the media attention of former President Clinton during his first
100 days in office, it was also more negative than that of his
A study released last week by the Pew Project for Excellence in
Journalism, entitled 'The First 100 Days: How Bush Versus Clinton Fared
in the Press,' found that Bush won 41% less coverage than Clinton, and
that Bush's was more likely to be negative, despite Clinton's famously
The primary difference was in the first month, when stories about Bush
focused largely on his competence and not his policies. These stories
were for the most part positive. But Bush's second month saw negative
stories outweigh positive ones by an almost two-to-one margin.
The study's authors give two explanations for the decline in
'While some analysts have suggested that this may be a function of Bush
shrewdly keeping a lower profile, it also may reflect changes in the
nature of the media culture,' they wrote. 'The selection of stories in
the media is now often lighter, with a movement away from politics.'
Kathy Jeavons, VP and group manager for Ketchum's public affairs
practice, and an associate director with the White House Office of
Public Liaison under the former President Bush, called the drop in
coverage a conscious decision by the president and not a by-product of
changing media values.
'He seems to be less concerned with making news every day than with
ensuring the right people within his administration speak up about key
initiatives,' she said.
The study, available at www.journalism.org, examined 899 stories at four
network TV news stations, two major newspapers and one newsweekly.