Saturday, October 3, 2009

Libera Media Bias? Let's Ignore The Facts Once More And At What Risk

The ongoing defensive debate from the left about disparaging the outcry of a national liberal media bias is as tiring as it is timeless. It is a fact of journalistic life that the national media is for the most part biased toward left-leaning ideologies. If not 100% supportive of radical, left-leaning socialist ideologies, the liberal national media practices, at a minimum in those instances, “affirmation through silence”. The below are 2 sources to quantitatively illustrate domination of liberal bias in the media.

I. The first source are the results of the 2007 and 2004 Pew Research media studies consistently showing that a 1/3rd of the media self-characterizes themselves as liberal and only 7%- 8% self-characterize themselves as conservative. Even though approximately 50% of the national media self-characterizes themselves as moderate, one wonders what percent of that 50% leans more left than right. What’s amazing is that in both Pew studies 1/3rd of the public self-characterizes themselves as conservative, the polar opposite of the national media liberal characterization.

Journalists surveyed: 585 national, local and Internet journalists surveyed
National journalists self-characterization in 2007 Pew Survey

  • Liberal: 32%
  • Moderate: 53%
  • Conservative: 8%
Public’s self-characterization in 2007 Pew Survey
  • Liberal: 19%
  • Moderate: 39%
  • Conservative: 36%

Journalists surveyed: 547 national, local and Internet journalists surveyed
National journalists self-characterization in 2004 Pew Survey

  • Liberal: 34%
  • Moderate: 54%
  • Conservative: 7%
Public’s self-characterization in 2004 Pew Survey
  • Liberal: 19%
  • Moderate: 41%
  • Conservative: 33%

II. The second source is a study in 2005 entitled "A Measure of Media Bias” by Tim Groseclose & Jeffrey Milyo, which was published in MIT’s The Quarterly Journal of Economics. In this paper Groseclose and Milyo estimated ADA (Americans for Democratic Action) scores for major media outlets such as the New York Times, USA Today, Fox News Special Report, and all three network television news shows. Their estimates allowed them to answer such questions as, “Is the average article in the New York Times more liberal than the average speech by Tom Daschle” or “Is the average story on Fox News more conservative than the average speech by Bill Frist”.

To compute their measure, they counted the times that a media outlet cites various think tanks and other policy groups. They correlated that with the times that members of Congress cite the same groups in their speeches on the floor of the House and Senate. By comparing the citation patterns they constructed an ADA score. As a simplified example, imagine that there were only two think tanks, and suppose that the New York Times cited the first think tank twice as often as the second. Their method asks: What is the typical ADA score of members of Congress who exhibit the same frequency (2:1) in their speeches? This is the score that we would assign to the New York Times.

Results: The results showed a strong liberal bias. 
All of the news outlets except Fox News Special Report and the Washington Times received a score to the left of the average member of Congress. Consistent with many conservative critics, CBS Evening News and the New York Times received a score far left of center. Outlets such as USA Today, NPRs Morning Edition, NBCs Nightly News and ABCs World News Tonight were moderately left. The most centrist outlets (but still left-leaning) by their measure were the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, CNNs NewsNight with Aaron Brown, and ABCs Good Morning America. Fox News Special Report, while right of center, was closer to the center than any of the three major networks evening news broadcasts. All of their findings referred strictly to the news stories of the outlets.

There is little doubt that the majority of the national media is liberal in their ideological perspectives and reporting. However the challenge for those interested in determining the truth and facts, vs. the lies and spin, when viewing national media outlet reporting is to maintain perspective and to investigate.

As mentioned in the Pew studies, at a minimum a 1/3rd of the national media is liberal which is at direct odds to the public’s ideologies. Therefore the public’s perspectives are not fairly represented in most national media outlets. As much as the national liberal media espouses diversity of ideas in the workplace and governmental representation they certainly do not practice what they preach within their own workplace. Traditional conservative viewpoints of merit are woefully underrepresented in the media and that trend over the last 5 years does not appear to be leveling out in the near future.

Therefore maintaining perspective and "considering the source" when viewing most national media reporting is imperative to be adequately informed around the issues for any candidate or public policy. It is the responsibility of all Americans to do their homework when it comes to deciding the merits of candidates and public policy issues. If not, their viewpoints and votes will be at the mercy of those in control of the national media.

The outcome of the 2008 presidential election was, by most accounts, driven by a surreal liberal media’s passion to manipulate voters to elect Barack Obama through the use of vacuous marketing techniques, e.g., “change we can believe in”. It worked. This unhealthy liberal media passion served to convince uninformed voters to elect Mr. Obama, buy the hype and ignore the “policies behind the man”.

DO NOT GO BLINDLY INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT!!! We have lessons learned since the 2008 presidential election in that we must maintain perspectives when listening to the liberal media and perform our own policy research. If not, looking at the U.S.' social, economic and foreign policy setbacks since Mr. Obama took office, we are doomed to suffer the dire consequences.

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