If an examination is made of only those headlines on FoxNews.com which include and pit the two candidates against each other, the headlines favor McCain.
In that situation, McCain received 8 positives, 8 negatives, and 3 neutrals, with one abstaining. Obama received 5 positives, 10 negatives, and 3 neutrals, with 2 not identifying. So with only the headlines that look at and compare both candidates, McCain received 50% more positive ratings and 20% fewer negative ratings. I would suppose that FoxNews.comâ€™s overwhelming reputation among academics as a right wing propaganda machine comes from the reading of the juxtaposed headlines.
A rhetorical analysis of four daysâ€™ postings from FoxNews.com inspected for bias in the coverage of the presidential candidates gives an intriguing perspective. The analysis of digital rhetoric was limited to stories about and pictures of the two major party candidates taken from links on the homepage, the politics front page, and the election coverage main page. There were more stories about and more pictures of Obama. Headlines for stories about Obama only were more positive and less negative than headlines about McCain. However, when headlines that compared the two candidates were included, the bias towards Obama dropped and the numbers slightly favored McCain.
This paper was presented at the national conference of Popular Culture on 8 April 2009.