Network News, Cable News, and the Proof (or Lack Thereof) of Partisanship
With the United States’ presidential election season (finally) at an end, media researchers have begun the process of conducting what will likely be years’ worth of analyses on the various news outlets’ coverage of the historic campaign. A relatively new wrinkle in the landscape of television news has been the emergence of overtly left-leaning political commentators, specifically on cable channel MSNBC, ostensibly as a response to Fox’s overtly right-wing cable news personalities. The question many have asked is whether or not the cable channel’s perspective has crept into what is supposed to be “mainstream” news reporting on the network version of NBC. Because Fox does not have the equivalent of NBC’s long-running nightly national news broadcast, it has not been possible to make across-the-board comparisons. However, a new study by the non-partisan Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has found that neither NBC Nightly News, nor its morning news program Today, have been altered by their cable partner’s left lean. The most interesting finding – NBC’s network news coverage was number one in positive coverage of the much-media-maligned Sarah Palin, even more so than Fox News Channel itself.