Document Type


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Journal Title

American Behavioral Scientist

Publication Date



Content analysis of network evening news coverage of the 2008 presidential election revealed a slight increase in the amount of coverage and a decline in the coverage of policy matters compared to 4 years earlier. Barack Obama received the most positive coverage recorded for any major party nominee on network television since the Center for Media and Public Affairs started analyzing election news content in 1988. The tonal gap between the Democratic and Republican nominees was also the largest recorded over the past six presidential elections. The one-sided coverage on ABC, CBS, and NBC was in sharp contrast to the more uniformly negative coverage of the two candidates during the evening newscasts on Fox News.

Publisher Statement

The definitive version is available at:

Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, Network Television’s Coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election, American Behavioral Scientist 55(4) pp. 354-370. Copyright © 2011 SAGE Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.