Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist

It took a study to figure this out? More taxpayer money wasted on telling us something we already knew.


Paul Hue said...

Sling: Our leftist friends view "the media" as biased against socialism, but don't recognize a bias in Democrat versus Republican. If we consider only the Democrats versus Republicans, I do see a bias on most media outlets. And on Fox, yes, I do see some bias towards the Repos. Previous non-partisan evaluations have declared Fox to be less biased towards repos than CNN and NYT are towards demos, though of course we must recognize that the one NYT reporter, and the Washington Post's reporter Bob Woodward, have been friendly to the current repo administration.

But mostly what I see is a bias towards the causes of general liberals, to which Nadir, Chomsky, and Tom themselves object, at least oftentimes. If you look at issues such as "Price Gouging", even Fox took the strong liberal, anti-market view. School vouchers and ending the drug prohibition are simply ignored.

Paul Hue said...

I agree with people like Tom on issues like Sports, where the media provides the team owners with reliable free advertising. But then again, that's what the people want.

I think that the internet is greatly reducing the importance of the bias concern. To a great and increasing extent we can all get the information that is important to us. One example is the Swift Boat and Dan Rather stories of the past election.

A very encouraging factor is that I found that prior to the election, I could go to a particular website, which I think was government-sponsored, which listed every candidate on my local ballot, along with a weblink to that candidate's official site. This enabled me to make the most informed vote I've ever made, one in which I considered the most candidates. I came very close to voting for one of the libertarian parties, which fielded candidates in many contests. I predict that because of features like this, we may move away from the TGIF vs Bennigans elections. Who cares about those stupid debates, where the media permits only two candidates? I'd rather go to the candidate's website and see a list of the issues that they support. Those debates are full of irrelivent absurdity. I don't care if Al Gore oddly walks up to G Bush, or if one of the candiates flubs a line.

I just want to know: Who supports a flat (or at least flatter) tax? School vouchers? Legalized drugs?

Nadir said...

Based on the information provided in this article, I don't see how it is an accurate assessment of bias. Engineer Paul, explain it to me.

How does the listing of a source like the NAACP or Heritage Foundation indicate whether the news article is biased? An article could quote one of those sources, but not lend particular credence to their view. The reporter could even refute the findings.

I also don't understand how comparing them with a member of Congress will indicated the political lean. Congress has shifted dramatically to the right in the last 10 years.

I'm not saying their isn't bias. I'm just wondering how this report proves it. I don't get it.

Paul Hue said...

The first thing I think we must do in this discussion is to define our terms. My macintosh dictionary defines bias as: "1. prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair." People misuse this term all the time. I can be a firm and overt supporter of John Kerry, but *also* be completely unbiased, in giving each claim a fair hearing, and accurately reporting facts for and against Kerry, etc. So the fact that about 80% or so of professional journalists vote Democrat does not prove an anti-democrat bias (though it does prove a lack of intellectual diversity).

Nadir and I agree that all the major media are *biased* against us drug anti-prohibitionists. Our perspective never gets any coverage, for example.

Now on to Nadir's quesions. These studies have to construct some numerical method both qualifyfing and quantifying "bias." They started with a baseline definition of "liberal" by identifying a liberal outfit that identifies congressional votes as "liberal" and rates legilsators according to the fraction of the time that they vote "liberal".

Then they defined how "liberal" the nation itself is according to election votes that each of these legislators received. Let's imagine that Ted Kennedy is "90%" liberal, and received 60% of 10 million votes cast in his last election. Since .9 x .6 = .56, by this rationale we could say that those voters were 56% liberal. Carried over all these elections for the past 10 years, these researchers conclude that the US is 50.1% liberal.

Next the researchers had to find a way to measure the "liberalness" of a newscast. They identified a bunch of organizations that make news, and which they could deine as "liberal" (NAACP) or "conservative" (Heratige Foundation), probably by the same issues covered by the liberal outfit that measures the liberalness of legislators. The researchers would examine a news story, count the number of references to any of these groups, and divide that number into the number that were "liberal". If the story referenced moveon.org, the NAACP, and Heritige, that's two lib's and a conservative, for a score of 2/3 or 66% liberal. Compared to the national benchmark of 50.1%, we have a 16 percentage point skew to the left.

Yes, it is true that the story could have read as: "According the geniuses at the Heritige Foundation, the idiots at the NAACP and movon.org are wrong." But the researchers presumably concluded that usually when ann organization is getting referenced, it is getting its view accross. By examining thousands of stories over ten years, the usual manner would dominate.

Can you imagine a better way of objectively assertaining media "bias"?