Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Study Confirms Severe Media Bias

Below is another excellent piece from Engram at Back Talk blog. If you are a liberal and don't think there is a liberal media bias... this piece explains exactly why you feel that way with the hard facts and data not the opinions of a neocon.
Here it is in it's entirety.
NEW STUDY ON THE MEDIA we have...confirms it's not the media we wish we had.
Lately, I've documented a few instances of reporters in the mainstream media covering the situation in Iraq in an accurate way. It's odd to think that accurate news coverage would warrant any discussion at all, but it does because reporters lean so far to the left that they have trouble filtering out their personal views, especially when reporting news about Iraq (it would be the same way with conservative reporters, if there were any). A reader sent me this story that demonstrates how to put a negative (i.e., liberal) spin on recent events in Iraq:

2007 Toll Nears Highest for US in Iraq


BAGHDAD (AP) — With just under two months left in the year, 2007 is on course to be the deadliest year on record for American forces in Iraq, despite a recent sharp drop in U.S. deaths.

At least 847 American military personnel have died in Iraq so far this year — the second-highest annual toll since the war began in March 2003, according to Associated Press figures.

Technically true, but you'd think a chart like this one would help to place the story in context:

As you can see, military casualties in Iraq have come way down. Isn't that a relevant fact to mention is a story like this? And here is a table showing U.S. military casualties per year that also helps to provide a bit of context:

The years 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 are all very similar, and if casualties remain low for the next two months, 2007 will be much like the prior years but will also set a record. If I had written this story, I'd have included all of this for context. To be fair, at the very end of the article, it mentions the recent dramatic drop in U.S. military casualties. But by then, most readers will have formed an impression and moved on.

When it comes to evaluating the political inclinations of the mainstream media, it doesn't matter whether you are liberal or conservative. Either way, you can't possibly believe that the MSM is neutral or that it leans to the right. Obviously, it leans to the left. As obvious as it is, people sometimes argue about this, so, every once in a while, I like to collect all of the evidence in one place. I'm doing that again today because more evidence just came to light in the form of yet another study of the subject.

Before getting to the new evidence, let me just take a quick tour through the old evidence. The thing to note is that, no matter how you slice it, the evidence points in the same direction: the MSM leans left, and that affects how the news is covered. If you disagree, please cite all of the evidence that suggests otherwise. As hard as you try, you'll find that there is no such evidence (though I'd love to be proven wrong about that).

If you just take a poll ask people if news coverage is too liberal, too conservative or just about right, you results like these:

As you can see, if you are a Democrat, news coverage feels just about right. To everyone else, it seems to lean left (which is precisely why it feels right to Democrats).

The Pew Research Center conducted another poll that asked reporters to just say whether they are liberal, moderate or conservative. Here are the results:

Reporters mostly call themselves "moderate," but many more reporters admit to being liberal than conservative (by a ratio of almost 5 to 1).

MSNBC identified 144 journalists who made political contributions between 2004 and 2007 according to public records of the Federal Election Commission. The question of interest was this: Which party received the most donations from these journalists? The results are shown in this chart:

In summary, consumers of the news think that news coverage leans pretty far to the left, the reporters themselves acknowledge that they lean left, and reporters donate to Democratic candidates far more than they donate to Republican candidates.

As you might expect, reporters who lean left report news that is biased in the leftward direction. A careful analysis of the news conducted by political scientists at UCLA shows that this is, indeed, the case. Their report, called "A Measure of Media Bias," is available here. They started with the observation that U.S. senators have been ranked on a scale of 0 to 100 according to how conservative or liberal they are (with 50 being about the midpoint). Very liberal senators with a score close to 100 might cite liberal think tanks 10 times as often as conservative think tanks. If a news outlet like the New York Times did the same thing, it would get a score close to 100. Very conservative senators with a score close to 0 might cite conservative think tanks 10 times as often as liberal think tanks. If a news outlet like Fox News did the same thing, it would get a score close to 0. Here are their results for different news outlets (with scores greater than 50 showing a liberal slant and less than 50 showing a conservative slant):

As you can see, only Fox News and the Washington Times are more conservative than the average American. All other news outlets tilt in the liberal direction to varying degrees. The Wall Street Journal is the most liberal news outlet, which is surprising because everyone knows that it is a conservative newspaper. Actually, though, it is the journal's editorial pages that are very conservative (and that's why you think of it as a conservative publication). Its newsroom is left wing, even more so than the New York Times.

Now a new study from Harvard University has just come out that examines how the media covers the various presidential campaigns. The results are about what you'd expect (unless, that is, you deny that the media leans left). For example, who gets more coverage, Democratic candidates or Republican candidates? Need I even ask?

Who gets more positive coverage, the top Democratic candidates or the top Republican candidates? Need I even ask?

Let's look at the network evening news in particular:

In the positive category, it is 2-to-1 in favor of the Democrats. In the negative category, well, it's obvious.

The report describing these new findings goes out of its way to explain how these results might not reflect a liberal bias (e.g., Barack Obama is a new face, Hillary Clinton started to campaign earlier than the others, etc.). You can, if you work hard enough, explain away any one piece of evidence concerning the political inclinations of the mainstream media. But my point is this: when every single way of addressing this issue leads to the same conclusion -- namely, that a left wing media reports the news from a left wing point of view -- then that conclusion becomes inescapable. I know this isn't even a debatable issue any more, but I still think it is valuable to review the evidence every once in a while. Collecting the evidence as I do does not make me a conservative. Whether you are liberal or conservative, you can't really dispute the fact that the evidence consistently points to a liberal bias on the part of the mainstream media. It is the evidence that makes that case, not me. If you know of evidence that points in the other direction, do tell.

UPDATE: Coincidentally, Glenn Reynolds links to a post by Don Surber on this very topic:

The lies began before the war with CNN fronting for Saddam Hussein for 10 years just to keep its bureau open in Baghdad so it could brag about its foreign reporting. Instead of shuttering the bureau and then reporting the horrors from Atlanta, CNN stayed and kept its mouth shut.

That was just the start. Adnan Hajj staged and Photoshopped photos for AP and later Reuters that were sent around the world.

There is Captain Jamil Hussein, a police officer whom AP relied on repeatedly in 2006 for horror stories about Iraq. The military and the Iraqi government often denied the incidents. When Michelle Malkin and others questioned his existence, AP furiously defended him and insisted he was real — and stopped quoting him.

There is “Scott Thomas,” a pseudonym for a very real soldier, who sold outlandish lies to the editors of TNR. Apparently The New Republic learned nothing from Stephen Glass.

An unchecked conservative media would be as bad in a different way, but the media we have is liberal (and is bad in this particular way). END-

Great work Engram as usual... fair and balanced analysis.

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