This chapter introduces a new approach to measuring bias based on the visual aspects of broadcast news. Unlike the candidates' verbal statements and self-presentation style, the indicators of visual bias employed fall more squarely under the control of editors and producers than candidates and their consultants. In order to explain the persistence of the liberal bias charge against journalism as a political theme, the chapter traces the rise of partisan attacks on the press in recent decades. Accusations aside, questions concerning media favoritism represent a serious challenge to the credibility of the press (and hence the informational basis of democratic decision making) and deserve careful examination. If news workers are skewing coverage, assessments of bias must be able to pinpoint journalistic favoritism and rule out competing explanations, such as campaign orchestration of the news. When the visual packaging of general election news is carefully considered, it becomes clear that the networks have in fact systematically favored one party over another. Contrary to the liberal bias accusation against mainstream media, data shows that visual coverage has consistently favored Republican presidential candidates, while Democrats have endured less favorable treatment in each of the four general election contests examined. The chapter explains how and suggests a few reasons for why this trend exists, including the idea that journalists sometimes unwittingly surrender control over visual portrayals to campaign image handlers.
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