Boston, Jan 12, 2011. While the US networks are focused on the campaign above all other political topics, the economy remains the top issue outside of the horse race. Media Tenor says that while the general trend on US TV has been to cover the economy more positively, tonality took another dip in January.
The results of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries have cemented Mitt Romney as the front-runner and narrowed the Republican field, but they have also had a huge impact on how the candidates are being covered by US television media, according to analyst group Media Tenor International.
“Romney is close to locking in a solid lead, and the visibility he´s been receiving for his success should propel him to victory in South Carolina. Voters look to choose a winning candidate,” says Racheline Maltese, a researcher with the group. “Despite fiscal issues benefitting Paul and Huntsman in New Hampshire, they have only received significant media visibility recently, making it hard for them to build momentum. Santorum, who may be able to resume his race for second place in the more socially conservative South, faces a similar obstacle.”
Gingrich, who had high levels of media focus going into Iowa, is no longer the hot story, says Maltese. “The media thrives on trying to make the drawn-out election season surprising, and Gingrich is now old news. Yes, he´s still visible, but the media momentum is no longer with him, and there´s been more criticism in reporting on his campaign.”
Coverage for the candidates has also differed from network to network. Fox News has offered less criticism of both Romney and Santorum than the other networks around platform and values issues, Media Tenor says.
“The economy is also a key topic and a real risk for every candidate. It has prevented Obama from achieving greater positivity in the media, and it´s causing problems for Romney, who has been portrayed by his challengers as someone who enjoys firing people,” Maltese says.
Finally, Media Tenor notes that Rick Perry needs to achieve media momentum now or he may wind up remaining in the race solely to increase his bargaining power for a job in a potential Romney administration.
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