By Claudia Parsons - Analysis
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Another week, another magazine cover devoted to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama.
Many bloggers vented their ire at Time magazine this week for publishing its seventh cover story on Obama in 2008 compared to only two for Republican rival John McCain.
“Time Magazine has once again placed the Obamessiah on its cover,” said the Web site NewsBusters, which says it is devoted to “exposing and combating liberal media bias.”
A recent book by the editors of Slate magazine coined the word “Baracksploitation” for “the practice among editors of putting only Barack Obama on the cover of their magazines.”
Obama and his family were featured on the cover of People magazine this month and he has also been a cover boy for GQ, Vanity Fair, Men’s Vogue and Rolling Stone, among others.
Surveys confirm Obama has received more news coverage than McCain but with polls showing a tightening race, analysts say it is not always true that any publicity is good publicity.
“Survey data is beginning to identify what some people are calling Obama fatigue,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
The fascination with Obama as the man who would be the first black U.S. president brought huge media interest beyond the political pages. Now voters want to see policies.
“He may have predicated too much of his campaign on biography,” Rosenstiel said. “That only takes you so far in a general election. The coverage may be too much about Obama and not enough, for Obama’s cause, about his ideas.”
McCain opened a 5-point lead on Obama in a Reuters/Zogby poll on Wednesday, a turnaround after vigorous attacks by McCain who likened Obama to celebrities such as Paris Hilton.
A Rasmussen Reports survey in July found that 49 percent of voters believe most reporters are trying to help Obama. Just 14 percent believed most reporters were trying to help McCain.
“TIME covers both parties and candidates equally,” magazine spokesman Daniel Kile said, noting the latest Obama cover was prompted by next week’s Democratic convention and that Time will give similar coverage to the Republican convention.
McCain clinched his nomination by early March, while the Democratic selection process dragged on until June and was a historic showdown between candidates who would be either the first black president or the first woman president.
Five of Obama’s seven covers were before the end of May -- when the Democratic nomination was still up for grabs -- and two of those were with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. An Obama cover earlier this month also featured McCain.
Andrew Tyndall, who monitors news on three major TV networks (tyndallreport.com/) said Obama's overseas trip in July was "the culmination of the story line about Obama getting all the media coverage."
Up to that point, Obama had a 2-to-1 advantage in air time but there seemed to have been a “self-correcting mechanism” by the media in recent weeks, influenced also by the fact that Obama went on vacation, leaving the field to McCain.
From July 28 to Aug 15, Tyndall said total coverage of McCain took up 45 minutes compared to 28 minutes for Obama.
Clinton’s campaign argued the media were starry-eyed toward Obama and McCain’s camp has done the same.
“There’s an undeniable sense among a lot of regular Americans that the press has a perspective on political campaigns,” McCain spokesman Brian Rogers told Reuters. “We frankly think it’s more about Senator Obama’s global celebrity than anything else.”
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor declined to comment, saying, “We’re not here to be media critics.”
Editing by Bill Trott