Election 2008: The Press and the Profundity of Race


Election 2008: The Press and the Profundity of Race


Pamela Newkirk



Pamela Newkirk, associate professor of journalism, New York University explain how one of the most electrified and contested presidential elections in history, the American public faced daily bombardment of the latest statistics, allegations and controversies for more than a year by pollsters, pundits, analysts and journalists alike. But what was the role of race in the media coverage of the 2008 presidential election, and how might it have shaped popular opinion or fueled racial divisions? Religion, race and gender have always played significant roles in America’s development. To say that the 2008 presidential election was historic is now a cliché. President-elect Barack Obama confronted (and continues to face) the issues of race that were left unresolved by our founding fathers and has persisted as a malignancy in the body politic ever since. The media reported on an issue that has been debated for decades in elections featuring Black candidates: the “Bradley effect.” Tom Bradley was a former African-American mayor of Los Angeles who narrowly lost the 1982 California governor’s race to Republican George Deukmejian despite pre-election polls showing him ahead by large margins. Reporters openly speculated that this might occur in the fiery 2008 election. Experts are likely to analyze this year’s election in an effort to better understand race and racism in the United States. A portion of those discussions will center on the media’s coverage of the election.

Publication Date



2008 presidential election, U.S. politics, media coverage, race, racism, Bradley effect


American Politics | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Journalism Studies | Race and Ethnicity

Election 2008: The Press and the Profundity of Race