Friday, November 20, 2009

Is the Media Biased Against Un-Charismatic Politicians?

When a candidate complains that his charismatic opponent is receiving far more favorable coverage than himself, the media becomes more circumspect. Almost self-conscious. But, there is very little bias if the public is responding to a candidate with great enthusiasm. Professor Drew Westen, psychologist and neuroscientist at Emory University says,"The charge of bias against a charismatic contender can have a chilling effect on coverage, leading to an embargo on visual images that depict the reality of public response or an obligatory snarky comment or caveat following every story that describes something the candidate has done well. I saw the process in action during the primaries when Hillary's charge led to media concerns about airing footage that would seem too positive for Obama. On more than one occasion, a television producer would ask me for suggestions about film clips to illustrate the point I would be making on air a few hours later or a point they wanted to make, and would reject an appropriate clips because it was ‘too positive’ or because it was from a victory speech. But a victory speech is hardly unfair to show simply because it shows the candidate victorious. That's what victory is"(2008 para 3).


Westen, D. (2008 July 27). How should journalists cover a charismatic candidate? When the subjective is objective. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from:

Related: Charisma

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