About that Liberal Media

A little while ago, Stu posted news on a study which demonstrates that the media are, in fact, biased. I (and several others here) read through it and thought that there were some flaws in the methodology. (Despite claims to the contrary, this is a valid form of critique!)

Now, Eric Alterman has a post up at Mother Jones which expounds upon these flaws. Most importantly, Alterman notes that

One of the central problems for scholars seeking to study ideological bias in the media is the lack of agreed-upon data. Natural scientists and even most social scientists can run experiments where their variables are to a considerable extent controlled. But this is simply impossible in the case of coverage of politics.


Now, none of this is to say that Alterman’s critique shows that the media aren’t liberal. (Though Alterman would argue this.) It is instead to simply show some of the major metholodigical flaws in the study, and to suggest that trying to get a fix on the politics of the media (made up of various forms (TV, newspapers, etc.), hundreds of outlets and tens of thousands of people from all walks of life, etc.) is very very difficult.

And please– actually read the article before posting on its contents.



  1. Well, Lancer, I haven’t read the article yet… but I couldn’t resist a quick shot ;-))….. Is there anyone is this world or any other that has more incentive to come out and try to debunk a well-researched study from two top scholars without an agenda stating that there IS a liberal bias than Eric Alterman, the man who devoted a whole book to trying to show that no such thing exists? I’ll try to give the message a fair look, but the messenger has it in a poor starting position. Having said that, the difficulty of agreeing on data is a problem. But in my mind it doesn’t require much data or any particular genius to figure…. 80% of journalists describe themselves as “liberals”. Unless they’re all downing vials of some Magic Objectivity Potion, the media is going to tilt left. There’s also a problem in defining the scope of the discussion. Rush Limbaugh is not evidence that the media is not liberal. When I refer to a liberal “media bias” I’m referring to the nominally objective news media, i.e. the guys that are out there supposedly just reporting the facts for AP, NBC and the New York Times. The guys who HIDE their political agenda behind their bylines, who’s biases are twice as damaging precisely because they can pretend not to have them and undiscerning viewers won’t know the difference.This is why EVERYONE knows what Joe Wilson said in his NYT op-ed, but most people somehow don’t know that he’s subsequently been proven to have lied, or that two independent commissions concluded (including a bi-partisan Senate committee on Intel) that the Niger uranium intel was actually accurate.


  2. But as Alterman notes, these two “top scholars” aren’t exactly paragons of objectivity, either!! As Alterman notes, “in 2000-2001, Groseclose was a Hoover Institution national fellow, while Milyo has been granted $40,500 from the American Enterprise Institute; both were Heritage Foundation Salvatori fellows in 1997.” The “agenda argument” works both ways.And of course, I never said Rush represents “the media” or any such. Indeed, his show is a success because it announces its bias all over the place. (Now, Fox News, on the other hand…) No, Rush is an example of a Right Wing pundit and charter member of the Echo Chamber who is all to happy to brand liberals as everything evil and the source of all problems in America. The problem is that the Echo Chamber is so pervasive that when he and the dozens of other Echo Chamber hosts– the listenership of which totals in the tens of millions per week– all repeat the same demonizing talking points and parrot the same lies, it evenutaly makes its way (unchecked) into the popular consciousness. Thus, we’re all duped into thinking Al Gore said he “invented the internet” when (of course) he never did. But it was part of the plan (Gore=liar; Bush=straight talker), and our “liberal” mainstream media never did a thing about it!(And BTW: even if Alterman is 100% right about his critique (and let’s face it– he is), it doesn’t mean that <>you<> are wrong about your assertions re the media’s bias. It just means that the study in question is a joke.)


  3. BTW, Truth, where are you getting that 80% number? It’s not from Fox News, is it? In any event, I call it into question. Can you cite a source for that?!?


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