June 28, 2010

Press Release
June 28, 2010
Contact: Donald Rieck



Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan has received three times as much positive as negative coverage in major media outlets, including Fox News, according to a new study by researchers at George Mason and Chapman Universities. The study also found that her press has been more positive than the media portrayals of current Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, following their nominations to the Court by George W. Bush.

This study covers 110 evaluations of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan by sources and reporters in 34 news stories about her on the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening newscasts, the front page of the New York Times, and the first half hour of Fox News Channel’s “Special Report,” from her nomination on May 10 through June 22, 2010. The ongoing study is being conducted by researchers at George Mason University in Fairfax VA and Chapman University in Orange CA, and coordinated by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). For information on our methodology see:

Ms. Kagan has been praised in three out of every four evaluations by sources and reporters that appeared in the five major media outlets we analyzed. The tone of her coverage was almost identically positive at the New York Times (78% positive vs. 22% negative), the broadcast networks (72% positive) and Fox News “Special Report” (74% positive).
The positive coverage on Fox’s “Special Report” is especially notable, since our previous studies have found more negative coverage of the Obama administration’s policies there than at several other major media outlets. (We analyzed the first half-hour of “Special Report” because it is the closest cable news equivalent to the broadcast network evening news shows.)

Ms. Kagan was praised by every Democrat who was quoted or cited (100% positive) and by 69% of comments by reporters and non-partisan sources (those not affiliated with a political party). Only among Republican sources was there substantial criticism – 40% positive vs. 60% negative evaluations.

So far her coverage is more favorable than any of George W. Bush’s three Supreme Court nominees received. Previous CMPA studies found that in 2005, current Chief Justice John Roberts received 59% positive evaluations from his nomination until his confirmation, while current Associate Justice Samuel Alito received 56% positive evaluations. White House Counsel Harriet Miers, whose nomination was withdrawn in the face of Senatorial opposition, received only 46% positive (vs. 54% negative) evaluations. (All studies were based on broadcast network evening news and New York Times coverage.)

Positive Examples:

On the professional front, her resume is impeccable. – Chuck Todd, NBC

Elena Kagan would bring to the Court, by all accounts, a brilliant legal mind, but not a confrontational one. – Terry Moran, ABC

I think it’s great…. I like to have women on the Supreme Court. – Laura Bush, FOX

Negative Examples:

If a nominee does not have judicial experience, they should have substantial litigation experience. Ms. Kagan has neither. – Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), CBS

At Harvard she outraged conservatives by leading the fight to keep the school’s ban against military recruiters on campus… – Terry Moran, ABC

A number of military organizations accuse Kagan of not keeping her word as Solicitor General… on “don’t ask, don’t tell”… – Shannon Breem, FOX

CMPA is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization, which is affiliated with George Mason University. It has monitored every presidential election and every new administration since 1988 using the same methodology. For CMPA findings on the 2008 elections see:

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