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Balance in Campaign Coverage
Unformatted Document Text:  Coverage Balance 16 policy issues did not prove significant predictors of overall media favorability for Bush. --- Table 2 about here --- Respondents showed uniform agreement on the perceptions of Bush favorable coverage regardless of their various characteristics. Neither demographics (such as years worked, education level and gender), nor working condition variables (such as working area, frequency of Bush campaign coverage and type of medium) were significant. Washington reporters did seem a bit more likely to regard the overall media coverage as more favorable for Bush than for Gore, even though the standardized coefficient ( β = .40, p .10) was not statistically significant at the .05 level. Interviews. The in-depth interviews revealed that perceptions of what candidates deserved affected reporters’ coverage of candidates’ personalities, suggesting that campaign reporters applied the equity principle most of the time for this kind of coverage. Reporters thought that Gore’s personality did not deserve as positive coverage as Bush’s. Gore was perceived as a synthetic candidate whose campaign was undertaken for political advantage rather than from personal faith and devotion, whereas Bush was occasionally cast as the friendly good boy 44 and depicted as a thoughtful and cautious person due to his sociable conduct. The simple and pre-cast character frames apparently had some power that permeated the coverage of the two candidates, due to the castings’ reverberating and somewhat taken-for- granted qualities. Although reporters thought that Gore was overshadowed by President Clinton, they also said that Gore himself helped create the atmosphere of skepticism about his personality. They noted Gore’s earlier tendencies to exaggerate his accomplishments and to rewrite his life's history, which, as they saw it, resulted in reporters’ somewhat commonly held cynicism about Gore’s personality. Thus, “Gore established a reputation like a guy who would

Authors: Son, Young Jun. and Weaver, David.
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Coverage Balance 16
policy issues did not prove significant predictors of overall media favorability for Bush.
--- Table 2 about here ---
Respondents showed uniform agreement on the perceptions of Bush favorable coverage
regardless of their various characteristics. Neither demographics (such as years worked,
education level and gender), nor working condition variables (such as working area, frequency of
Bush campaign coverage and type of medium) were significant. Washington reporters did seem a
bit more likely to regard the overall media coverage as more favorable for Bush than for Gore,
even though the standardized coefficient (
β
= .40, p
.10) was not statistically significant at the
.05 level.
Interviews. The in-depth interviews revealed that perceptions of what candidates
deserved affected reporters’ coverage of candidates’ personalities, suggesting that campaign
reporters applied the equity principle most of the time for this kind of coverage. Reporters
thought that Gore’s personality did not deserve as positive coverage as Bush’s. Gore was
perceived as a synthetic candidate whose campaign was undertaken for political advantage rather
than from personal faith and devotion, whereas Bush was occasionally cast as the friendly good
boy
44
and depicted as a thoughtful and cautious person due to his sociable conduct.
The simple and pre-cast character frames apparently had some power that permeated the
coverage of the two candidates, due to the castings’ reverberating and somewhat taken-for-
granted qualities. Although reporters thought that Gore was overshadowed by President Clinton,
they also said that Gore himself helped create the atmosphere of skepticism about his
personality. They noted Gore’s earlier tendencies to exaggerate his accomplishments and to
rewrite his life's history, which, as they saw it, resulted in reporters’ somewhat commonly held
cynicism about Gore’s personality. Thus, “Gore established a reputation like a guy who would


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