Baier ignored study's finding that media coverage of Obama's policies skewed negative
Fox News' Bret Baier cited a conclusion from a media study that President Obama received more positive coverage through his first 50 days than President Bush or President Clinton but not the study's conclusion that Obama's "positive media image hasn't precluded heavy criticism of his policies."
On the April 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report, citing a press release  for a Center for Media and Public Affairs  (CMPA) study on media coverage of President Obama's first 50 days in office, host Bret Baier mentioned only the CMPA's conclusion that Obama received more positive coverage through his first 50 days than President Bush or President Clinton but not its conclusion that Obama's "positive media image hasn't precluded heavy criticism of his policies." Baier reported that the study found that "[t]he coverage on the broadcast nets was judged 58 percent positive for President Obama. That compares to 33 percent for President Bush, and 44 percent for President Clinton." However, Baier ignored the study's other conclusion as stated in the press release: "While Mr. Obama's personal qualities and leadership abilities have drawn mostly praise from the mainstream media, his policies have not fared so well."
From the CMPA press release:
The media have given President Obama more coverage than George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined and more positive coverage than either received at this point in their presidencies, according to a new study by researchers at George Mason and Chapman Universities. But the study also finds that Mr. Obama's positive media image hasn't precluded heavy criticism of his policies.
While Mr. Obama's personal qualities and leadership abilities have drawn mostly praise from the mainstream media, his policies have not fared so well. On the broadcast networks fewer than two out of five evaluative soundbites (39%) praised his policies and proposals. ABC's policy coverage was relatively balanced (48% positive), while source and reporter comments ran over two to one negative at both CBS (32% positive) and NBC (31% positive).
TV news coverage of the president's economic policies, which focused mainly on the economic stimulus and the various proposed and enacted industry bailouts, garnered support from only 37% of evaluative soundbites. He fared better on domestic issues other than the economy, where praise for his health care proposals and new stem cell research policy brought balanced coverage overall (50% positive). But only one out of four comments (24%) praised his foreign policy decisions, including the war on terror.
Negative Example: "The Obama administration is paying too much money to the wrong people." - Economist, CBS, March 20
The New York Times policy coverage, while less positive than its personal coverage of Mr. Obama, was about evenly divided between praise and criticism (48% positive). Although similar to the broadcast networks in its treatment of economic policy (40% positive), the Times portrayed other domestic policy areas relatively favorably (60% positive), and its 39% positive coverage of foreign policy domains was still more favorable than the networks' 24% positive coverage.
Positive Example: Mr. Obama's actions "reaffirmed American values and are a ray of light after eight long, dark years." - ACLU executive, New York Times, Jan. 22
By contrast, Fox News coverage was even more negative toward Mr. Obama's policies than the Times was positive. Only one out of twelve evaluative soundbites (8%) praised any of the president's policies, including six percent positive judgments on the economic matters, seven percent on other domestic issues, and 17% on foreign affairs. [emphases added]
The press release reported that CMPA covered the first half-hour of Special Report as "Fox News coverage," noting it "most closely resembles the broadcast network newscasts." CMPA has not yet released the study.
From the April 27 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
BAIER: President Obama is getting more coverage -- and more positive coverage -- from the media than his two predecessors. A new study of his first 50 days in office reveals the network evening newscasts devoted 27 hours, 44 minutes, of coverage to his presidency. George W. Bush received just under eight hours in his first 50 days; Bill Clinton, 15 hours.
CBS had almost 11 hours, NBC was next with nine and a half, ABC had seven and a third. The study looked at the first half-hour of Special Report on Fox, and we had 10 hours, 24 minutes.
The coverage on the broadcast nets was judged 58 percent positive for President Obama. That compares to 33 percent for President Bush, and 44 percent for President Clinton.
NBC was most positive at 61 percent, CBS was at 58 percent, ABC 57, and Special Report was at 13 percent. The study authors described this show as Fox News Special Report, "which most closely resembles the broadcast network newscasts." The study did not look at CNN or MSNBC.