From the non-partisan Pew Research Center:

The media coverage of the race for president has not so much cast Barack Obama in a favorable light as it has portrayed John McCain in a substantially negative one, according to a new study of the media since the two national political conventions ended.

Press treatment of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, but not markedly so.

But coverage of McCain has been heavily unfavorable — and has become more so over time. In the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, unfavorable stories about McCain outweighed favorable ones by a factor of more than three-to-one — the most unfavorable of all four candidates — according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For Obama during this period, just over a third of the stories were clearly positive in tone (36%), while a similar number (35%) were neutral or mixed. A smaller number (29%) were negative.

For McCain, by comparison, nearly six-in-ten stories studied were decidedly negative in nature (57%), while fewer than two-in-ten (14%) were positive.

Nothing surprising here. But, add this bias with a 7 to 1 Republican skewering from late-night comedians, and you’ve got a typical mass media consumer who thinks you’d have to be a complete idiot to vote for McCain.

What’s going to happen when the election is much closer than this mass media image portends?

I’m worried because I think the typical Democratic voter (particularly many of my students) think the election is over already. If John McCain wins, we’re going to have a lot of people thinking the election was stolen. The news media’s done a disservice to the electorate with this shoddy coverage.