Clinton dominates US campaign news, study finds

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Washington, Oct 29: Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has dominated news coverage of the 2008 White House race, partly due to negative segments about her on conservative talk radio, according to a new study released to day.

Clinton was the main subject of 17 per cent of stories during the first five months of this year, almost twice as much coverage as the leading Republican candidate, Rudy Giuliani, who had 9 per cent, the study found.

The tone of coverage for the two during that period was about equal -- roughly 37 per cent of stories were negative while 27 per cent were positive, according to the study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.

The study was based on the election coverage of 48 different media outlets, covering online, radio, television, and newspapers. A story was categorized as having a positive or negative tone if two-thirds of its assertions were explicitly in one direction.

Conservative radio show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh have criticized Clinton for years, from her days as the first lady in the 1990s to New York senator and now candidate for the November 2008 presidential election. The review found that 86 percent of their segments on her were negative.

Both Clinton and Giuliani consistently top national polls in the race for their party nomination. However, Clinton's lead is narrower in the early primary voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa and Giuliani trails former Massachusetts Gov Mitt Romney in those two states.

The candidate with the most negative coverage during the first five months of 2007 -- almost 48 percent of stories -- was Arizona Republican Sen John McCain. His campaign was in turmoil then because of rapid spending and staff shake-ups.

Democratic hopeful Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois received the most positive coverage, 47 per cent, during that period. He raised more campaign dollars than Clinton during the first half of the year but has not been able to close the gap in polls.

The study found that Democrats received more coverage than Republicans but said that was in part because Republicans with big money war chests announced their bids later than Democrats.

It was also due to media attention on the possibility of the United States' first female president, Clinton, and first black president, Obama.

Overall, the 2008 presidential election was second only in news coverage to the war in Iraq, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism's News Coverage Index.

''What political scientists used to call the 'Invisible Primary' of endorsements, fund-raising and organizational work, in other words, is invisible no more,'' the study said.


REUTERS
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