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Arab Media Loved Obama For His First 18 Months

From the Politico:

Arabic media’s view of President Obama

By STEPHEN J. FARNSWORTH, S. ROBERT LICHTER and ROLAND SCHATZ | September 15, 2013

As President Barack Obama tries to stop the bleeding in Syria, contain the terrorist threats from Al Qaeda in Yemen and restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, he has an unlikely ally: the leading Arabic broadcasters, which provide surprisingly positive coverage of his government.

A detailed content analysis of nightly television reports of five key Arabic language media outlets — Al Jazeera, the region’s dominant broadcaster; Al Arabiya, linked to the Saudi royal family; Nile News, based in Egypt; the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.; and Al-Manar, linked to Hezbollah — found them more positive about Obama during his first 18 months in office than key European broadcasters and the U.S. television networks.

The findings, part of a study by Media Tenor Ltd., a provider of international content analysis, challenge frequent claims about anti-U.S. media in the Arab region…

And yet this pro-American viewpoint doesn’t seem to have affected public opinion ever there. But maybe Middle Easterners are more sensible than Americans when it comes to be influenced by their media masters.

The findings are based on an analysis of 172,739 statements about the U.S. government on evening newscasts by nine international television broadcasters (five Arabic, four European) and four U.S. television networks over 18 months from January 2009 through June 2010.

Roughly one out of five international news stories relates to the president specifically, with the remainder covering other topics relating to U.S. politics and policies.

Native-language speakers analyzed evening news reports on a sentence-by-sentence basis for topic, subject and tone. Our research took those analyses and subtracted the percentage of negative statements from positive ones; we thus created a net measure of the tone of each outlet’s coverage.

During Obama’s first year in office, for example, the president enjoyed his greatest honeymoon with Arabic broadcasters, whose combined coverage was 8 percent net positive in tone. Coverage among four European broadcasters — two from the United Kingdom and two from Germany — was slightly less upbeat, with reports that averaged 6 percent net positive in tone.

In contrast, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox News levied far more criticism — 8 percent net negative in tone for the group. Although Fox was the most critical, coverage on the four U.S. networks overall was more negative than positive

To be sure, specific topics generated an extremely harsh response in Arabic television news. Obama’s policies in Afghanistan were heavily criticized, as were reports relating to U.S. homeland security measures.

In other words, they were still critical of any efforts we might take to defend ourselves. But those were few and far between in Obama’s first 18 months.

And Middle East public opinion remains highly critical of the United States, despite the more favorable portrait painted by the region’s media.

So this fawning press had no effect on public opinion. If only that were true in our country.

Even so, the relatively positive treatment of Obama by Arabic television news can help tell America’s story in a part of the world often thought — before our research demonstrated otherwise — to be dominated by anti-U.S. voices.

And never mind that this so-called positive news coverage made no difference.

Stephen J. Farnsworth is professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington; S. Robert Lichter is professor of communication at George Mason University; and Roland Schatz is president of Media Tenor Ltd. They are authors of “Global President: International Media and the U.S. Government,” published in August by Rowman & Littlefield.

We can’t wait to read about what a beloved ‘Global President’ Obama has been.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, September 16th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Arab Media Loved Obama For His First 18 Months”

  1. Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran

    /apologies to the Beach Boys

  2. captstubby

    “The Iranian Ambassador to the UN had just finished giving a speech and walked out into the lobby of the convention centre where he was introduced to a U.S. Marine General.
    As they talked, the Iranian said, “I have just one question about what I have seen in America.”
    The General said, “Well, anything I can do to help?”
    The Iranian whispered, “My son watches this show called ‘Star Trek’ and in it there is… Kirk who is Canadian, Chekhov who is Russian, Scotty who is Scottish, Uhura who is black, And Sulu who is Japanese, but there are NO Muslims. My son is very upset and doesn’t understand why there aren’t any Iranians, Iraqis, Afghans, Egyptians, Palestinians, ISaudis, Syrians, or Pakistanis on ‘Star Trek’.
    ” The General leaned toward the Iranian Ambassador, and whispered in his ear, “That’s because it takes place in the future…”




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