Rosen still can’t back up his assertion that Denver Post has liberal bias

(If you don’t believe him, you’re part of the problem? – promoted by Colorado Pols)

You could probably think of a lot of ways I could spend my time more productively than debating  KOA’s Mike Rosen about whether The Denver Post has a “liberal bias.”

I mean, I could check Twitter. Then I could check Twitter again. And again. Or I could pet my unbelievably annoying cat. Or there’s a podcast of Grassroots Radio Colorado on KLZ 560 AM waiting for me.

But I exchanged emails with Rosen anyway.

I started the thread by sending him a post I wrote about his former KOA colleague Steve Kelley.

Rosen: Jason, Just curious: have you ever complained about the left-wing line-up on AM 760? Mike

Jason: Hi Mike. I hope you’re well. I’ve praised the diversity of opinion on The Post’s editorial page. J

Rosen: I don’t think u answered my question.

Jason: Right. I didn’t. Sorry. I have not criticized AM 760 for its lineup. I think it provides a bit of balance in a talk radio world that tilts way right. But I don’t like all the talkers on AM760. I like Sirota, but he’s too hard on Obama and the Dems, even though I relate to him having voted for Nader myself in 2000. I don’t really like Ed Schultz. I think Thom Hartmann is generally excellent.

I’ve pointed out that talk radio on the major stations is dominated by right-leaning shows. I’ve suggested trying more left-leaning shows, maybe a Caplis-and-Silverman type show with a real lefty to counter a rightie like Caplis, though I would not dump Caplis and Silverman because I think it’s a good show. Nor would I suggest dumping your show, though your print column could go.  (I think you’re better on the radio than in print.)

I like diverse opinions, but the far right gets more air across the media spectrum these days than the far left. I don’t think that’s good. I’ve complimented the news department at KOA for its spot news coverage. I also support local programming, so KOA gets credit from me in that regard, even if the lineup is far from perfect for me. J

Rosen: I’d agree that there are more conservatives on talk radio than liberals. But that’s because they tend to attract larger audiences than left-wing hosts.  On the other hand, so-called news programming on network TV is dominated by liberals hosts and a liberal agenda.  Fox’s 3 million cable viewers is overwhelmed by the more than 20 million viewers of evening news shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS.  Have you ever called for more balance there? The lineup on AM 760 isn’t just liberal, it’s radical left; farther left of center than the average conservative on talk radio is right of center.

Jason:  I don’t believe the mainstream media has a liberal bias. You make this accusation about local media, like The Denver Post, all the time, and you don’t have a credible study to back it up. You just assert it based on anecdotes, just like a leftie could do based on anecdotes. I’d say the lineup on AM 760 closer to the center than the lineup on KNUS.

Rosen:  That just says a lot about how far left you sit. For a credible, scientific study, read Tim Groseclose’s new book “Left Turn – How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.” I’ll make a prediction.  Now that you have the study you’ve asked for, you’ll dismiss it.

Jason: So are you saying that book proves to you that The Denver Post has a liberal bias?

Rosen: No.  Groseclose’s study proves that, what you call, the “mainstream media” have a liberal bias, which you deny.   “Studying” the Denver Post is too small a target to justify a “studier’s” time.  Might be a good project for a grad student who doesn’t have a liberal bias. My thirty-year personal, informal study satisfies me about the Denver Post’s liberal bias.  It’s obvious.

Jason: So, again, you prove my point that your assertion that The Denver Post has a liberal bias is based on nothing, except because you say it it’s so. And you have anecdotes. Someone on the left could say The Post has a conservative bias, and point to anecdotes. You’re not better.

Rosen: That’s right.  It’s based on my credibility and personal observations over many years, which isn’t a formal “study” but it’s based on much more than “nothing.” That you would deny the obvious liberal bias of NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, NY Times, Time, Newsweek, etc. doesn’t say much for your credibility.  That those radically to the left of the liberal media, perhaps you,  regard them as balanced or conservative doesn’t make them balanced or conservative. Here’s a quote you might find instructive from Evan Thomas (a liberal and grandson of Norman Thomas, six-time Socialist Party candidate for president) when he was Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief in 1996: “About 85 percent of the reporters who cover the White House vote Democratic.particularly at the networks, at the lower levels among the editors and so-called infrastructure, there is a liberal bias.  There is a liberal bias at Newsweek,  the magazine I work for.(then ABC White House reporter, now Fox News anchor) Brit Hume’s bosses are liberal, and they’re always quietly denouncing him as a right-wing nut.” He didn’t conduct a study either.

Jason: So what if they vote Democratic. They can still be fair and accurate as reporters, just like a Republican could be. Judges can be fair, regardless of party. There may be exceptions, but these are professionals. In fact, reporters or judges could over-compensate for their personal view and tilt their coverage in the other direction. So you have to look at the content of the Post’s news pages.

Your view does indeed count for more than “nothing.” Sorry about that. But both right-and left-leaning readers can find anecdotes to prove their point about bias. So why is your opinion more valid than a leftists, unless you can support what you say with data? If you can’t, with due respect, you should tone down the destructive rhetoric and focus on your specific concerns about specific stories, rather than overstepping and asserting overall bias.

Rosen: Newsroom cultures are uniformly liberal and it does influence what they write and how they edit. We’re not getting anywhere. Read Groseclose’s book, then dismiss it just as you would any “study” I’d on the Denver Post’s news pages.

25 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. allyncooper says:

    You might as well be talking to a brick wall. I listen to him on radio sometimes and his self righteousness turns me off. If he believes the DP is leftist, then that’s what he’s going to believe. I think the DP or more “corporatist” than liberal or conservative, but that holds true for most major newspapers.

    I consider myself left of center, but I just posted a diary here slamming the Obama administration.  

  2. PERA hopeful says:

    When I moved here 30 years ago, the Rocky was the morning right-wing paper, and the Post was the afternoon more-liberal paper.  It was nice to have two different perspectives.  However, the Post began creeping right, and when Dean Singleton took it over and the Rocky shut down, the Post became a conservative paper.  Of course, I haven’t done a study; I’ve just observed it for 30 years.  

    This is based more on their editorial and commentary pages than on their news reporting, of course.  And the editorials have become more interesting since Littwin joined the editorial board … more interesting and less predictable, with a rightward slant on some issues and leftward on others.  

  3. The realist says:

    10 years ago.  He was speaking to a group, and of course commented about the left-wing bias of the news media and how that influences people’s thinking leftward.  I said to him that I had been a subscriber (at that time) to the ultra-right-wing Colorado Springs Gazette for years, but that it had not changed my liberal views one bit.  What was his response?  “You’re different.”

  4. Aristotle says:

    Complaints of “liberal media bias” have been asserted by Rosen and other right wing mouthpieces since the mid-80s at least, and probably since media reporting on Viet Nam and Watergate hugely damaged the right in America.

    The right view their agenda as something whose end justifies any and all means. If factual reporting about their tactics results in public backlash, why, it’s because of those dastardly biased liberal reporters! To them, being “fair” means ignoring their dirty plays and portraying only the positive. If yet another anti-gay equality Republican is caught hiring a teenage male escort, why then that’s BIAS!

    Too bad the left can’t adapt some of these tactics and make the right go on the defensive sometime.

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      about activist judges anymore either.  When they are on your side, their trashing of precedent is not a problem.

      The “liberal media bias” claim probably goes back to the 60’s which about the era that Republicans are still trying to repeal.

      Rosen’s defense is a right-wing book that is too macro to get into specifics like facts.

      Thanks Jason, you show Obamaesque patience with these people.

  5. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    Rosen uses “u” in emails instead of “you…” get him!

  6. lloydlevy says:

    It’s clearly to the right. The editorial page runs Mallard Fillmore but not Doonesbury. I rest my case.

    • BlueCat says:

      Liberal cartoonists can be counted on to skewer Dems on occasion.  Fillmore is like a visual depiction of the tiny, ugly, mean spirited thought process of Rush Limbaugh.

  7. Rosen actually said that to make an argument?  

  8. Diogenesdemar says:

    corresponding with Rosen is a lot like masturbation . . . It’s really creepy when you’re doing it in public.

  9. dwyer says:


    I’ve complimented the news department at KOA for its spot news coverage. I also support local programming, so KOA gets credit from me in that regard, even if the lineup is far from perfect for me. J

    I don’t understand the above comment of yours.  KOA is Fox News –  Fair and Balanced.  This brand is a recent development.  How does that impact the news coverage? What about ratings?

    What are Rosen’s ratings?  Would Clear Channel keep Sirota on the air if he were not “bashing” Obama all the time?

    The only “liberal” talk show host on KOA was an overnight once a week kid.,”Big Steve.”  He just got fired.

    Another fill in host, a few nights ago, complimented Obama on the Liberia strategy (before it all got blurry again) and then said apologetically to his audience… we will get back to Obama bashing tomorrow night.

    Why didn’t you ask Rosen if he believed in “free market” why is he afraid to share his public radio time with a liberal?

    Equal time would be a “free market.”

    • Jason Salzman says:

      KOA is a Clear Channel station that carries FOX. Clear Channel is known to be right wing, but it also owns AM 760, Sirota’s station, which generally supports Dmes I’d say. So they are more in it for the money, not political influence, than other right-wing radio corporations, like Salem Broadcasting, which owns KNUS locally.

      A lot of commercial stations carry syndicated yakkers and no one from the community. KOA has a news department that does a good job for what it does. Jerry Bell and Kathy Walker are a couple of the reporters. Very few commerical stations hire any local reporters anymore.

      Not sure what Rosen’s ratings are, but I’m sure they are going down like most all radio programming, with some exceptions.

      So, it’s not as if I think KOA is a great radio station, with the public interest as it’s shining light, but it could be worse. And that’s the operating yard stick for mainstream media these days, for me at least. But I understand how others would disagress.

  10. faux_american says:

    When there were 2 papers one trended conservative (Rocky Mountain News), and one trended liberal (Denver Post).

    Now that the Rocky Mountain News went under, the Denver Post seems to be trying to compensate by moving rightward.

    People like Rosen seem to judge a paper by the what’s on  the editorial page, rather than the quality of the journalism.

    A paper can be good even if you don’t agree with what’s on the editorial page–I’ve never agreed with the Wall Street Journals‘ editorials, but I have to say it has had pretty good journalism–at least it did when the Bancrofts owned it–but ever since Rupert Murdoch took over, the paper is becoming more like Fox News, than a paper you could disagree with the editorial page, but still appreciate the journalistic qualities.    

  11. lloydlevy says:

    Rosen cites Groseclose (“Left Turn,” St. Martins, 2011) on media bias. Groseclose’s analysis hinges on comparisons relative to a central tendency, so consider this alternative interpretation to a media “left turn.”

    Perhaps the media has stayed close to a functioning, centrist consensus of two decades or so ago while politicians and the public (and again politicians and the public, etc.) moving along a self-reinforcing path have shifted their center considerably to the right. The picture then is of a “conservative,” centrist media apposite to a thick political tail on the “right.”

    But that’s a measurement on an ephemeral scale. It begs the historical question of the quality of the underlying values.

    What, indeed, is the substance of current positions taken by the new right and its representatives? Is it constructive and in keeping with a nation committed to progress, tolerance and opportunity? Or does it bear a risk to a cohesive society, national productivity, and individual liberty, given the record on extremist behavior in general.

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