Throughout the campaign, the two most popular cable news channels, Fox News and MSNBC, stood out from the rest the media coverage. Fox News was much more positive about Romney than the press as a whole and substantially more negative about Obama. MSNBC was even more overwhelmingly negative about Romney and offered mostly positive coverage about Obama.
During the final week of the campaign, those differences became even more pronounced.
That week, when the media overall were more positive about Obama than negative, Fox News went a different direction and became more negative about him. From October 1 to 28, 4% of Obama's stories were positive and 47% were negative (a difference of 43 points). In the final week, however, that tenor changed so that 5% of Obama's stories were positive while 56% were negative-a difference of 51 points.
At the same time, when Romney was receiving negative coverage in the final week from the rest of the press, Fox was different; 42% of its segments about him were positive while only 11% were negative. This was more positive than the earlier part of October when 34% of Fox News' Romney coverage was positive and 9% negative.
MSNBC moved in the other direction. MSNBC's coverage of Romney during the final week (68% negative with no positive stories in the sample), was far more negative than the overall press, and even more negative than it had been during October 1 to 28 when 5% was positive and 57% was negative.
For Obama, meanwhile, the coverage improved in the last week. From October 1 to 28, 33% was positive and 13% negative. During the campaign's final week, fully 51% of MSNBC's stories were positive while there were no negative stories at all in the sample.