While his support continued to hold in the polls, businessman and GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain was the focus of a much tougher narrative in the news media last week, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The week, October 31 through November 6, was also the third consecutive one in which negative assertions of Cain in the press outnumbered positive, a turn in his narrative that predated allegations of sexual harassment.
Last week, with the news media focused on reports that the trade association Cain once ran compensated women who had alleged he had sexually harassed them, 39% percent of the statements about Cain across a broad spectrum of news media were negative, while 26% were positive (and 36% were neutral).
That 13 point differential between negative and positive coverage is the worst week Cain has undergone in press coverage so far, looking across six months of coverage in some 11,500 news outlets, a sample that represents the bulk of what Americans see in the media.
But the tone of the narrative had already begun to turn negative for Cain the week of October 17-23, as he began to see more media scrutiny of his 9-9-9 tax plan and other aspects of his positions while he gained in the polls.
The new PEJ study, which updates an earlier