Study: Foreign Media Boosted Obama, Bashed Bush

August 22, 2013

Press Release
August 22, 2013
Contact: Katy Davis

Al-Jazeera Most Positive toward Obama Administration European Media Most Negative toward Bush Administration

A newly published study of international and domestic TV news outlets finds that flagship news programs in England, Germany, and the Middle East all gave mainly favorable coverage to Barack Obama and mainly unfavorable coverage to George W. Bush

These findings are from a new book, The Global President, by CMPA Senior Fellow and University of Mary Washington Professor Stephen Farnsworth, CMPA President and George Mason University Professor S. Robert Lichter and Media Tenor President Roland Schatz. The study procedures, including definitions of positive and negative coverage, are described below.

Major findings:

European and Arabic-language TV news shows were both more positive toward the Obama administration than were U.S. TV news shows. Fox News Channel had the most negative coverage of Obama.

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera provided the Obama administration with its most positive media coverage. Al-Jazeera’s criticisms of U.S. policies on war and terrorism were offset by praise for Obama’s personal qualities, his governing abilities and his Middle East policies.

All news outlets except for Fox were primarily negative toward the Bush Administration. European news outlets were the most negative toward the Bush administration, even more negative than Mid-East outlets. The U.S. outlets were the least negative.

All news outlets in the study except for Fox News were more negative toward the Bush administration then they were toward the Obama administration.

The U.S. outlets were less critical of Bush than were Arab and European outlets. U.S. outlets were also more critical of Obama than were Arab and European outlets.

Study Methodology and Scope

The study examined over 200,000 statements on thirteen flagship TV news programs in England, Germany, the Middle East, and the United States (listed below) concerning the Bush and Obama administrations from January 2005 through June 2010. The outlets studied were: England – BBC1 10 O’clock News, BBC2 Newsnight; Germany – ARD Tagesthemen, ZDF heute journal; Middle East – Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiyah; Nile News, LBC, and Al-Manar; USA – ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news shows, Fox News Special Report.

An outlet’s coverage was defined as mainly positive or favorable if positive statements about the Obama or Bush administration outnumbered negative statements. An outlet’s coverage was defined as mainly negative or unfavorable if negative statements outnumbered positive statements. Net positive or negative scores for all outlets are available on request.

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