Statements from Mitt Romney make up a greater portion of coverage on NPR since May 1st than do statements from Barack Obama.

Top Speakers on NPR

Chart shows distribution of statements by newsmaker and sentiment in NPR coverage of the election.  Time frame is May 1 – July 15.

Chart shows distribution of statements by newsmaker and sentiment in NPR coverage of the election. Time frame is May 1 – July 15.

Typically thought of as a liberal outlet, election coverage by NPR programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered have amplified statements from Mitt Romney more than Barack Obama. Over 13% of statements in election coverage on the two NPR programs come from Mitt Romney while 11% come from Barack Obama. There are an assortment of potential explanations for this difference including the notion that the population already knows Obama (as President) but is in the process of trying to get to know Romney, and therefore Romney deserves more coverage.

As a consequence, negative coverage of Obama increases because such a large portion (37%) of Romney’s statements in NPR’s election coverage is negative to Obama. This is apparent when looking at NPR’s election coverage with and without statements from Obama and Romney. Excluding candidate statements, the ratio of negative coverage swings against Romney by almost 20%. However, when we include Obama and Romney’s statements, the ratio of negative coverage is more even. The difference is Romney’s overwhelming amount of negative statements toward Obama which has leveled the negativity playing field.

In essence, NPR is using Romney himself to amplify negative sentiment toward Obama and third party validators to amplify negative sentiment toward Romney. In general, Obama’s free media strategy includes less negative attacking – he is content to let proxies perform this task – but it is most effectively seen in the coverage of NPR.

Ratio of Negative Coverage Skewed Against Romney When Candidate Statements Excluded

Chart shows ratio of negative statements in election coverage in NPR programs: Morning Edition and All Things Considered.  Time frame is May 1 – July 15.

Chart shows ratio of negative statements in election coverage in NPR programs: Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Time frame is May 1 – July 15.