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Balance in Campaign Coverage
Unformatted Document Text:  Coverage Balance 20 Second, reporters’ impressions of candidates’ characters were sometimes based on inadequate or questionable information, which reinforced character castings. For example, “Gore was depicted as saying that he invented the Internet even though his clarification was that he took the initiative in creating the Internet in Congress.” Moreover, Gore’s criticisms of the Bradley health plan were denounced by the press corps during the primary season, even though some budget specialists later said that Bradley’s health plan did have substantial problems. 45 Gore was sometimes quoted as saying that he inspired the author Erich Sigal’s novel “Love Story,” which was claimed to be a misquotation. 46 Finally, and most importantly, there was no convincing reason that either Bush or Gore should receive consistent favor over the other. The “dual standards” used in character and policy coverage came from media impressions, not from the public, which were grounded not in solid reasoning but in their judgments. Considering the points mentioned above, the main news media did not practice the equity rule well and did not carry out the norm of coverage balance soundly. Of course there exists the possibility that some cognitive and motivational biases govern reporters’ perceptions and that respondents overestimated perceptual differences between themselves and others. This is partially plausible because social psychology suggests that overestimation of perceived differences is far more common than underestimation. 47 But this does not explain all the reporters’ perceptions. If the only reason for survey respondents’ perception of favorable coverage of Bush is an overestimation of perceived differences, then at the macro level, respondents’ perceived differences may have offset one another. Thus, survey respondents’ aggregate perceptions should not have had a consistent direction or a convergence of favorability. On the contrary, it would be reasonable to say that the notion of objectivity, although interpreted subjectively and unsoundly, exerted itself as a constraining guideline that

Authors: Son, Young Jun. and Weaver, David.
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Coverage Balance 20
Second, reporters’ impressions of candidates’ characters were sometimes based on
inadequate or questionable information, which reinforced character castings. For example, “Gore
was depicted as saying that he invented the Internet even though his clarification was that he
took the initiative in creating the Internet in Congress.” Moreover, Gore’s criticisms of the
Bradley health plan were denounced by the press corps during the primary season, even though
some budget specialists later said that Bradley’s health plan did have substantial problems.
45
Gore was sometimes quoted as saying that he inspired the author Erich Sigal’s novel “Love
Story,” which was claimed to be a misquotation.
46
Finally, and most importantly, there was no convincing reason that either Bush or Gore
should receive consistent favor over the other. The “dual standards” used in character and policy
coverage came from media impressions, not from the public, which were grounded not in solid
reasoning but in their judgments. Considering the points mentioned above, the main news media
did not practice the equity rule well and did not carry out the norm of coverage balance soundly.
Of course there exists the possibility that some cognitive and motivational biases govern
reporters’ perceptions and that respondents overestimated perceptual differences between
themselves and others. This is partially plausible because social psychology suggests that
overestimation of perceived differences is far more common than underestimation.
47
But this
does not explain all the reporters’ perceptions. If the only reason for survey respondents’
perception of favorable coverage of Bush is an overestimation of perceived differences, then at
the macro level, respondents’ perceived differences may have offset one another. Thus, survey
respondents’ aggregate perceptions should not have had a consistent direction or a convergence
of favorability. On the contrary, it would be reasonable to say that the notion of objectivity,
although interpreted subjectively and unsoundly, exerted itself as a constraining guideline that


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