June 09, 2004
More on Media Bias

The current issue of BusinessWeek magazine has an article entitled "The Liberal Media: It's No Myth" (it's only available online to subscribers, so no link). The article points to a study (SEE UPDATE) that took a look at the issue, breaking up their data into three parts. The results were interesting, to say the least. I won't rehash the data here, but a three paragraph excerpt (from pages 13-14 of the report) packs a huge punch:

We now compute the difference of a media outlet’s score from 39.0 to judge how centrist it is. Based on sentences as the level of observation (the results of which are listed in Table 8), the Drudge Report is the most centrist, Fox News’ Special Report is second, ABC World News Tonight is third, and CBS Evening is last.

Given that the conventional wisdom is that the Drudge Report and Fox News are conservative news outlets, this ordering might be surprising. Perhaps more surprising is the degree to which the “mainstream” press is liberal. The results of Table 8 show that the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, USA Today, and CBS Evening News are not only liberal, they are closer to the average Democrat in Congress (who has a score of 74.1) than they are to the median of the whole House (who has a score of 39.0).

Another interesting fact concerns the following claim: “Although the New York Times and other media are liberal, they are balanced by conservative media outlets such as Fox News. Consequently, if one spent an equal amount of time watching Fox News and reading the New York Times, he or she would receive a fairly balanced view of the news.” However, Table 8 shows that this is not quite true. Since the New York Times is twice as far from the center as Fox News’ Special Report, to gain a balanced perspective, one would need to spend twice as much time watching Special Report as he or she spends reading the New York Times. (Further as we shall see in Table 9, when one uses citations as the level of observation, one would need to spend an even greater amount of time watching Special Report to gain a balanced perspective.)


I thought it was interesting that such an article would appear in BusinessWeek, since it itself is somewhat left-of-center on many issues.(I agree with Jane Galt on this). In the same issue, they discuss the disproportionate reelection prospects of incumbent politicians in this article . Their solution: more governmental control. More campaign finance reform, more public financing of elections, more mandated air time for challengers. These are not centrist positions, they are liberal positions. At least they are open to opposing views.

UPDATE—I have removed the hyperlink to the article because a reader alerted me to the possible presence of a virus on the link. Here is a cached link to the study in HTML form, courtesy of Google. This is safe to open.

posted on June 09, 2004 07:14 PM


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