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October 09, 2007 06:28 PM UTC

Liberal Media Bias? Not So Fast...

  • by: Colorado Pols

As Jeff Bridges of State 38 writes:

The national Media Matters folks have compiled what I’ve just now decided to term a “bias list” for nationally syndicated OpEd writers, such as Ann Coulter, Bob Novak, Maureen Dowd, etc…  Not surprisingly, they’ve determined that conservative viewpoints get a lot more ink than centrist or liberal progressive ones…

…Some of their more interesting findings:

Sixty percent of the nation’s daily newspapers print more conservative syndicated columnists every week than progressive syndicated columnists. Only 20 percent run more progressives than conservatives, while the remaining 20 percent are evenly balanced.

The top 10 columnists as ranked by the number of papers in which they are carried include five conservatives, two centrists, and only three progressives.

In three out of the four broad regions of the country — the West, the South, and the Midwest — conservative syndicated columnists reach more readers than progressive syndicated columnists. Only in the Northeast do progressives reach more readers, and only by a margin of 2 percent.


31 thoughts on “Liberal Media Bias? Not So Fast…

  1. to anyone who has been paying attention since 2000.  The media loves to do superficial, patriotic flag-waving and simple stories with no nuance. Note how little attention is being payed to what ought to be today’s biggest headline:  Iraqi officials are openly stating that they are not interested in reconciliation, never have been. So what’s the point of the surge or any other tactic meant to buy time for them to make progress on something they’re not  even thinking about going for?  Does this make any sense?  Wasn’t anywhere in the Denver Post today.

    Nothing on Iraq or Blackwater at all until page 12.  Very little coverage of student protests in Iran, including shouts of death to Ahmadinejad.  Nothing on how this might tend to show how proclaiming Iran part of the axis of evil from the beginning and alienating its western loving moderates and youth might not have been such a great idea. Better to stick with Iran bad. Period. Simple. 

    there WAS a story about Rush Limbaugh thanking Lamborn for his support on the phony soldier dust-up, presenting it as either a he said/he said thing or a matter of Limbaugh being taken out of context by the Dems.  Of course it didn’t address Limbaugh’s subsequent statements that the soldier in the ad protesting his remarks must be some poor ignorant dupe of the left who couldn’t listen to the audio, read the transcript and think for himself.  Very unlike the way the media ran on and on with the story about Kerry’s unfortunate attempt at a joke about soldiers getting stuck in Iraq.

    Nope, the media has no liberal bias, is mainly owned by conservative Republicans and likes to keep things very, very simple.

    1. We’ve  discussed the Soros/Clinton Media Matters several times in the diaries. The outfit is openly left wing and truly incompetent when it comes to media analysis and research.

      1. Just once, once!…..quote Media Matters debunking or correcting a press story, or an opinion piece, and provide an intelligent debunking of the debunking. Otherwise, it’s just drivel.

  2. ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, The New York Times, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, Chicage Tribune, Philidelphia Enquirer, Star Tribune, Detroit News, Star Ledger, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the AP, Reuters, are all examples of the right wing media. 

    And Media Matters is purly a non-partisan group made up of moderates. 

    I for one do not consider columinists who are offereing their opinion in the same group as journalists and reporters who are supposed to report the news without bias. 

    And here are some interesting findings:

    “In March and April 2005, the University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy surveyed 300 journalists nationwide – 120 who worked in the television industry and 180 who worked at newspapers and asked for whom they voted in the 2004 presidential election. In a report released May 16, 2005, the researchers disclosed that the journalists they surveyed selected Democratic challenger John Kerry over incumbent Republican President George W. Bush by a wide margin, 52 percent to 19 percent (with 1 percent choosing far-left independent candidate Ralph Nader). One out of five journalists (21 percent) refused to disclose their vote, while another six percent either didn’t vote or said they did not know for whom they voted.”

    When asked “generally speaking, do you consider yourself a Democrat, Republican, an Independent, or something else?” more than three times as many journalists (33%) said they were Democrats than said they were Republicans (10%).

    While about half of the journalists said they were “moderate,” 28 percent said they thought of themselves as liberals, compared to just 10 percent who said they were conservative.

    One out of eight journalists (13%) said they considered themselves “strongly liberal,” compared to just three percent who reported being “strongly conservative,” a four-to-one disparity.

    When asked about the Bill of Rights, nearly all journalists deemed “essential” the right of a fair trial (97%), a free press (96%), freedom of religion (95%) and free speech (92%), and 80 percent called “essential” the judicially-derived “right to privacy.” But only 25 percent of the journalists termed the “right to own firearms” essential, while 42 percent called that right “important but not essential,” and 31 percent of journalists rejected the Second Amendment as “not important.”


    1. The ownership is almost all conservative Republican.  They make the decisions and it shows.  Our media all joined in the cheerleading to war that got us into the fiasco in Iraq in the first place.  Before that they played a leading role in bringing about the Clinton impeachment.  They have always gone easy on Bush’s shady past. And don’t give me Dan Rather and the Guard story (essentially true).  He was squashed like a bug.  Even the supposedly liberal Denver Post endorsed Bush in 2004.  The right writes the checks. The checks drive the coverage.

      1. And the Media cheerleaded us into the war?  Is that why the Democrats voted to authorize the war?

        And the media has gone easy on Bush’s past?  Really?

        1. 1. You do the research. We’ve been over this before.
          2. Yes, by not challenging or investigating administration statements many of us knew at the time were false.
          3. It was a Republican controlled congress, and a Republican commander in chief….along with Cheney, Rumsfield, Rice who got us in to this mess. Your statment that “Democrats voted to authorize thewar” is disengenuous, at best!
          4. Yes, the media has gone easy on Bush’s past. All you have to do is go outside the MSM to find the truth about is past. You’ll not find much of it at all in the MSM.

          In summary, you’re going to continue to believe what you want, regardless of the evidence shown you. (Now you can throw this statement back at me to make yourself feel clever.)

          1. 1. You do the research. We’ve been over this before.  (Read: we can make statements without backing them up and you had better not challenge us on them)

            2. Yes, by not challenging or investigating administration statements many of us knew at the time were false.  (if they were false, the media would have jumped all over it at the time because they are liberal and they hate Bush)

            3. It was a Republican controlled congress, and a Republican commander in chief….along with Cheney, Rumsfield, Rice who got us in to this mess. Your statment that “Democrats voted to authorize thewar” is disengenuous, at best! (Hillary, and crew voted to authorize the war on terror. That is the truth and there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Sure the Republicans voted for it, it makes sense that they would.)

            4. Yes, the media has gone easy on Bush’s past. All you have to do is go outside the MSM to find the truth about is past. You’ll not find much of it at all in the MSM. (Why don’t you tell me the “truth” about Bush’s past?)

            In summary, you’re going to continue to believe what you want, regardless of the evidence shown you.


        1. I actually read the Media Matters study.  It’s quite long, which is probably why you and Lauren skipped it.

          I tend to be skeptical of anything with such stark conclusions, but this looks like a solid study to me (see the “Methodology” and “Data Collection” sections near the end).

          I prefer the term “cyborg” anyway.  🙂

          1. I read the study too and I found it very interesting how far Media Matters went to portray the media as “conservative” when it comes to OpEds. 

            Did you read the report I linked to, or did you just skip it? 

            Do you think that columnists are in the same catogory as reporters and journalists?  And if so, would you say that most editoral boards in the U.S. are liberal or conservative?

            1. No.

              I did read the one from “Media Research” though.  It’s not an analysis of a study, it’s a globbing together of a study-cum-book (“The Media Elite”), a memoir (“Feeding the Beast”), a small 1982 study with no links or citations, a 1985 LA Times study with no links or citations, a repeat of the Rothman-Lichter survey in “The Media Elite” by Rothman, a “study’ based on those who chose to return a questionnaire from The Freedom Forum, and finally a collation of answers given to Republican opinion columnist John Tierney by the people he ran into at a press party at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

              At least they admit “it was not a scientific sampling.”

              The most promising (and least stale) data they point to is from a 2005 UConn study, but their link is broken, and I couldn’t find it by Googling.

              So my estimation is that the “Media Bias Basics” page is poorly researched and written, and not trustworthy.


              Sorry, that’s all I have time for.  Your typical response to a challenge is to throw up a flurry of questions.  I suggest you stick to one or two in the future; they might get answered.

              1. Robin seems to think the government had a role in bringing down the World Trade Center. 

                Look, I know that liberals are desperate to convince people that the media is not liberal.  Media Matters leads the charge by comparing columnists who are writing opinion pieces to news reporters.  And they march out Rush and the massive amount of conservative talk radio hosts as examples of how the media is actually biased toward the right.  But the truth is, most news journalists and reporters are self proclaimed liberals, or “moderates” who happen to be pro-choice, for gun control, for big governement and so on.  The MRC shows several bonifide studies that bear this out.  and if that is not good for you, then how about this poll done by Zogby:


                Or how about this Rasmussen Report:


                Or there is this Pew Center Report:


                As for asking a “flurry” of questions, I am just trying to understand liberals better adn the only way I can do that is by asking a bunch of questions.  If you don’t want to answer, fine, but then all I have to go by is my own opinion and I am more than willing to admit that I am wrong at times. 

                Again, I will ask, do you think that columnists are in the same catagory as journalists and reporters?

                1. Not that you’re evidence of that Foghorn, I’m just saying. I’ve seen newspapers become more repetitive and bland and, like fast food stores, they all start to look and taste the same. Investigative, hard hitting journalism is the exception, not the norm. I’ll direct you to this article, which goes into more detail:


                2. Having a stated methodology is an improvement.  What you cited yesterday was total claptrap.  (It was assembled by L. Brent Bozell III, a Republican syndicated columnist who is also the founder and President of the Parents’ Television Council, by the way.  When the sidebar headline is “Rush Limbaugh Vindicated!” one might question whether it’s an objective source for research data.)

                  Regardless, I don’t see these as countering the Media Matters study.  The first two are pure opinion polls, asking only what Americans’ perception of media bias is.  That can prove that people think something, but not that it correlates to reality.  By contrast, the Media Matters study tries to quantify the actual content of a facet of the media.  The third study isn’t even relevant to the topic.

                  Media Matters is undeniably coming from a liberal perspective.  But this study was well-done and didn’t overreach in its conclusions, although CoPols’ headline does somewhat.  I’d be glad to focus on any flaws you’ve found in Media Matters’ study, but so far you haven’t mentioned any.

                  Do I think columnists are the same as reporters?  No, a reporter has less latitude and less influence than an op-ed writer.

                  1. As for Limbaugh, the media (lead by Media Matters) tried to railroad him by taking what he said out of context. They failed because everyone saw through it. Media Matters is a Hillary Clinton front group that promotes her radical agenda.  Also, one might question whether Media Matters is an objective source for research data – after all they have a nice link to another “report” titled “The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America Is a Myth”.

                    The fact is that Media Matters has an agenda.  Media Matters has a hypothesis they are trying to prove (that the media is not bias) and all they have done is create the evidence to support their conclusion.  As you can see from the polling data, the American public isn’t buying what they are pushing. 

                    The first problem I have is, that to accept the Media Matters study, you have to say that it is a Op Ed columnist’s is “the media”.  That is simply not the case, they are expressing opinion.  The second thing I take issue with is that they conveniently leave out of the study is the editorial board at the newspapers are liberal or conservative (because they are typically liberal).  Fourth, they never stop to consider that maybe people don’t like reading liberal Op Ed columnists.  Fifth, they never compare the number of readers of conservative Op Ed columnists to the number of viewers of liberal ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC.  Sixth, They assume that everyone who buys a newspaper reads the Op Ed page. 

                    As for the answer to my question, I have a few follow ups.  Do you think Dan Rather had much less latitude in what was put on the evening news than a columnist?  Do you think he has less influence than a columnist?  Do you think that Editorial Boards have less influence than columnists?

                    1. Because the same thing can be said about you and your article. And yes, it was crap.

                      Keep repeating the taking out of context line. He wasnt. “Everyone saw through it…”? Really? Because I didnt. In fact, reading the transcript provided by poster robert, he called soldiers that were against the war “phony soldiers.” Do you not find it ironic that a man who makes his living berating people for their out of context comments, is crying foul when he perceives, wrongly, that it is being done to him? It is like Hannity screaming about the ACLU when he happily used them early in his career.

                      “The fact is that Media Matters has an agenda.”

                      From media research:

                      “The mission of the Media Research Center is to bring balance to the news media. Leaders of America’s conservative movement have long believed that within the national news media a strident liberal bias existed that influenced the public’s understanding of critical issues…”

                      “Media Matters has a hypothesis they are trying to prove (that the media is not bias) and all they have done is create the evidence to support their conclusion.”

                      Wrong. From Media Matters:

                      “Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.”

                      As you can see media matters believes that there is a consesrvative bias. If by creating evidence you mean recording, transcribing, and then refuting conservative bias in the media, then yes you are correct.

                      I like how you are trying to say that op-ed columnist are not important because they are only offering opinion. Oh wait! You didnt say that. Please, allow me to correct myself. I like how you are trying to say that op-ed columnist are not part of the media because they are only offering opinion. But they are important, because they are part of the media. Now, I know how big of a stickler you are for the most basic defintions of words, I must say that I am surprised that you deny op-ed columnists are not part of “the media.” Clearly they are. If you deny them in print, then you certainly can not deny that they are part of the media when they appear on any number of television or radio programs. One down four to go.

                      Two. I am sure that you have a source to back this up. So I will hold my response until you provide a link.

                      Four (what happened to three?). So what?

                      Five. I got to be honest I am not even sure what you are trying to get at here. Are you trying to say that more people watch network news than conservative op-eds? If so, I must say that I am not surprised. I hear often how newspaper readership is declining, and I would assume the increasing sedentary nature of americans more people watch tv than read papers. Of course MM discusses this, but, meh, who has time to read the executive summary.

                      Six. You have fallen into the trap that you are so often eager to lay. I like to call it the assumption game. While you have played the assumption game with points 1-6 (minus three, of course), with six you really drive it home. As MM points out, a columnist like George Will (who at times I actually agree with) reaches roughly 50 million readers. I will agree that not everybody is like me and reads the whole paper, but that is not their contention. In short, their contention is “…that conservative syndicated columnists enjoy a clear advantage over their progressive counterparts.”

                      Dan Rather. Hmmm…That is a good (first) question. If I may, I think Abu Ghraib scandal is a good one to profile his latitude as compared to columnists.

                        “Only when Seymour Hersh, investigative reporter for the New Yorker, relying on different sources from Mapes’, unearthed the Abu Ghraib story and CBS executives learned that the magazine was about to scoop the network did they grudgingly permit it to be aired. “Even then,” Rather’s suit states, “CBS imposed the unusual restrictions that the story would be aired only once, that it would not be preceded by on-air promotion, and that it would not be referenced on the CBS Evening News.” Feeling forced against their will to broadcast a story they knew was accurate, CBS’s executives did everything within their power to ensure the public would pay as little attention to it as possible by prohibiting any mention of it.”

                      Here is the article so you can read the entire piece:

                      I think columnists have greater latitude.

                      On Rather’s influence, that is also a good question. Anecdotally, I would say that columnists (or rather op-ed writers) have greater influence than a person like Dan Rather, but that is purely my opinion.

                      I think that editorial boards and op-eds serve two different purposes. Does one have more influence than the other? Maybe, but I am not sure which, if either, do.

                      Since I have answered yours I hope that you will oblige in answering mine. First, Why do you insist in rejecting studies and information that you disagree with? Second, why do you put up a source that is, at best, clearly biased and try to pass it off as information that should be accepted by everyone. Finally (keeping with the three question maximum), why do you insist that you are trying to understand the liberal mindset (paraphrase) when your entry to this blog and the following week you essentially berated the liberal mindset, all the while you use phrases like “media would have jumped all over it at the time because they are liberal and they hate Bush” and “I  know that liberals are desperate to convince people that the media is not liberal.” If you truly wanted to know the liberal mind set you could easily ask questions and not purport to know things about it.

                    2. Total crap.

                      Only one citation of actual source material out of six sections strung together in a timeline to make them appear to be coherent.

                      One of these “studies” was GOP op-ed columnist John Tierney informally asking those whom he met at a 2004 DNC dinner what they thought about the media.

                      I catalogued the other problems above.

                      If you don’t understand why citing sources and relying on peer reivew are essential to credibility, I can’t help you.  You’re lost forever in the Republican Spin Zone, Dobby.  Good luck out there.

                    3. Limbaugh?  I never mentioned him.

                      to accept the Media Matters study, you have to say that it is a Op Ed columnist’s is “the media”.

                      No, you’re overstating the conclusions of the study.  CoPols did that as well in their headline.  I pointed this out before.  You’re distorting what MM said in order to shoot it down.

                      Media Matters is a Hillary Clinton front group that promotes her radical agenda.

                      Perhaps, although I confess your statement makes me giggle.  At least Media Matters describes their methodology and data collection and provides extensive citations (as well as some great visualizations of the data).

  3. So what?  Those are opinion pieces, hardly “news”.  When Republicans say the media is biased, we’re talking about the actual news and how it’s reported.  So let’s look at the news that comes out of Iraq, how the democratic controlled congress is covered (or glossed over), how President Bush is covered, how school vouchers are covered, how conservative’s word are constantly twisted, or how when Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton call someone a racist it the accusation is immediately assumed to be guilty.

    And what, an opinion page in the back of a newspaper is supposed to counter the constant drumbeat from CNN, MSNBC, ABC, etc?  Pretty weak if you ask me.

    1. I believe Rob Corddry had a brilliant piece on the Daily Show – if the facts are biased (like Saddam had no connection to 9/11) you just don’t report them.

      Much better to serve as stenographers for Dear Leader, which the right wing thinks is the proper role of the press.

  4. Such as the ignoring of”The Downing Street Memor” for almost two weeks while the internet was abuzz.  Then conveniently shunted.

    Haners and Foggy, this was not about the political leanings of journalists, nor does it matter that it came from a liberal source.  We all agree, I think, that John Andres is a (wacked out) right winger, and Paul Krugman is pretty much a lefty. 

    1. When Pols does a piece about how the media isn’t liberal because of opinion pieces, then it is about political leanings.  All I’m saying is that to say that media isn’t biased because of opinion pieces is a pretty weak argument in my book

  5. Bias on the opinion pages is not the issue because it is acknowledged and expected. When socialist perspectives are reported as news on the other pages of the paper the media smuggles bias into its supposedly objective reporting.

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