Pew on Gingrich’s Receding Storyline

Last week, I wrote about the trend in political reporters confessing their bias for an exciting, close primary race; a few of them accordingly professed the media’s affection for Newt Gingrich, whose colorful, unconventional candidacy—propelled by bombast and Sheldon Adelson—has made the race exciting and, for a period, close. Were reporters rooting for a race over a rout? Was this reflected in their coverage? Was the media’s lust for a story giving Gingrich extra gas?

While several political reporters seemed to think so, Slate’s John Dickerson, as I wrote last week, “called the claim ‘wrong’ and ‘offensive,’ and said campaign reporters were…calling the plays as they came, not cheering them along.” To support his argument, Dickerson might this week point to the Election Report from Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism which shows that press coverage of Gingrich decreased and became more negative over the past week (January 30-February 5)—a period during which Gingrich lost the Florida primary to the less colorful Mitt Romney by 14 points, and the Nevada caucuses by even more (while vowing to fight on).

All of which makes Gingrich even more of a long-shot this week. And, well, we know how political reporters feel about the underdog…

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Erika Fry is a former assistant editor at CJR.