The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has studied a 10-week period of coverage of the presidential race, tried to identify what it calls the news media’s “master narratives in the press about the character and record of presidential contenders” and finds that it is overwhelmingly negative (72 percent negative for President Obama, 71 percent negative for Mitt Romney). As PEJ put it:
These numbers make this as negative a campaign as PEJ has seen since it began monitoring the master narratives about candidates in press coverage in presidential campaigns in 2000. Only one campaign has been comparable-2004 when coverage was filled with the controversy over the war in Iraq, the prison scandal at Abu Ghraib and the Swift Boat documentaries. That year, 70% of the personal narrative studied about Democrat John Kerry and 75% of that about incumbent George Bush was negative, numbers similar to now.