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Erik Wemple
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Posted at 01:27 PM ET, 09/21/2012

Charge: Networks overplayed Romney’s ‘47 percent’ comments


Media victim? (BRIAN SNYDER - REUTERS)
The Media Research Center, “America’s Media Watchdog,” has found a chasm between coverage of Mitt Romney’s not-so-secret remarks about the country’s “47 percent” and Barack Obama’s “redistribution” remarks made in 1998 at Loyola University. Here’s how it breaks down:

In all the Big Three networks this week devoted about 88 minutes to the Romney tape compared to just six and a half minutes on the Obama clip — a 13 to 1 ratio. [Bold text in original.]

Coverage audits are always fun to behold. Quirks, ideological leanings, incompetence — there are any number of reasons why one story gets a great deal of play and another gets buried, to use the center’s term for the treatment of Obama’s “redistribution” comment.

A sturdy media-coverage comparison, though, rests on the availability of similar fruits. And sometimes the supermarket doesn’t cooperate. In this case, consider what Romney said to attract generous network coverage:

Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. And he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

That last bit is a blast of compassionless conservatism the likes of which we hadn’t heard from Romney. And that we won’t again hear from Romney.

Now for the Obama “redistribution” line, from 1998:

The trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution. Because I actually believe in redistribution at least at a certain level to make to make sure everybody’s got a shot.

Given how often President Obama chants about getting the richest Americans to “pay their fair share,” it’s a wonder that this ancient “redistribution” line managed six-and-a-half minutes of attention on the networks.

Just don’t tell that to Media Research Center boss Brent Bozell:

The Obama campaign wants the Romney tape to be a big issue, and the liberal media obey, covering it for nearly an hour and a half. Romney counters with a damaging tape of Obama, and it’s gets less than seven minutes of total coverage. The double standard is absolutely staggering. The liberal media are nothing more than the press office of the Obama campaign.[Bold text in original].

By  |  01:27 PM ET, 09/21/2012

 
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