The group used its Delahaye/Pronto "media crisis analysis tool" to determine how online news organizations have treated President Clinton and special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. Starr is investigating allegations against the president, including whether Clinton may have been involved in an affair with a White House intern.
The media have come under fire for their reporting of the scandal, and what some say is a tendency toward sensationalism. Some have questioned whether the Internet has played a part in the rush to report titillating gossip or rumors as news, as media organizations race to publish the latest detail about the scandal.
The consulting firm used its Delahaye/Pronto media analysis tool to evaluate 173 articles found over the past week in the online versions of CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, and the Washington Post. The group found that 8.7 percent of Bill Clinton's coverage online was "positive," compared to 6.5 percent of Kenneth Starr's coverage.
The Delahaye Group also asked its readers to code each of the stories they read according to whether they found the coverage to be positive, negative, or neutral. The readers were asked after each article whether they believed either Starr or Clinton was "doing the right thing." According to those criteria, readers backed Starr 20 percent of the time, and Clinton 10.4 percent of the time.
The study found the New York Times's online coverage to be the most critical of Clinton, with 55 percent of its coverage deemed "negative." CNN's articles were negative 26.7 percent of the time.