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ljs22's avatar

Liberal media bias?

Asked by ljs22 (1077 points ) June 22nd, 2008

My mother is convinced there is a liberal media bias. In trying to argue with her, I realized I don’t know as much about it as I could in order to form a coherent position. Perhaps this one of those intractable opinions that cannot be disproved. IS there a liberal media bias? Help me please.

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31 Answers

reed's avatar

This is a subject that has been studied quite a bit and depending on the bias of the particular researching organization, different conclusions have been reached. One data point that is not disputed much is that the overwhelming majority of so-called professional journalists are registered Democrats. Bias is actually blatantly used as a differentiator amongst the cable news organizations. On the left, you have CNN, chidingly called the Clinton News Network, well, before they turned against the Clintons and became Obama fans. They have commentators like Jack Cafferty who hardly hides his bias and many of the old Clinton cronies are trotted out with regularity. On the right you have Fox, which has a decidedly right wing point of view. Then you have MSNBC which attempts to play it both ways but many lefties watch it to drink in Keith Olbermann’s leftist spew fest. But they also had the recently departed Tim Russert, who was actually a real old school journalist that rarely tipped his hand as to his politics, he will be sorely missed.

So it really depends on what particular media outlet you look at. I think as a general notion, it could be convincingly argued that there is a subtle liberal leaning.

Upward's avatar

If your in the Bible Belt, then yes I would say there is.
If your on the East or West Coast not so much.

buster's avatar

Rush Limbaugh is so full of liberal bias it makes me sick.

Spargett's avatar

There always will be in her mind.

You can’t logically talk someone out of something they illogically talked themselves into.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

The media is biased to what will help their owner’s… The corporations. I believe MSM will push whichever agenda will help big business, which I believe is both sides. The two party system is so corrupt, it doesn’t matter which side you talk about, they are all out for big business. You got the military industrial complex on the right and the medical industrial complex on the left. Either way, big business wins and the media will get their advertising money.

I suggest watching The Revolution will not be Televised or Network. Both movies show the extreme bias and censorship of all corporate media. I always ask people why they get their news from corporations. After all, what does the average person have in common with Billionaires? Why would a rich person give info to the average person that would hurt their business?

Harp's avatar

First, in the interest of disclosure, I would unhesitatingly call myself a liberal. The news media doesn’t sound especially liberal to my left-leaning ears, but then it wouldn’t, would it? I would like as much as anyone else to believe that the media are just passing along the unfiltered facts, and that those just naturally tend to support my worldview rather nicely.

Nevertheless, the closest thing I’ve been able to find to a scientific study of media bias, conducted by Tim Groseclose of UCLA and Jeffrey Milyo of the University of Missouri in 2004, does find that most major news outlets rely more heavily on the input of liberal thinktanks and policy groups than conservative ones. They compare the frequency of these citations to how often these same groups are cited by Democratic and Republican congressional speakers. Here is the study, if you care to read it.

The study does not find widespread evidence of ficticious reporting, but rather a biased selectivity in sources. The study was based strictly on news reporting, and not editorial content.

So that’s not the result I woud have liked to see, but if I’m interested in the unvarnished truth, then it would be disingenuous of me not to accept it.

Harp's avatar

On the other hand, a report by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes noted that those who watch Fox News were more likely to hold incorrect views about the Iraq war. Just sayin’

marinelife's avatar

Of the two positions, I would say that I lean toward the liberal.

I wish that reed had disclosed his personal leanings although it is not that hard to guess with references like “Jack Cafferty who hardly hides his bias” and “Olbermann’s leftist spew fest” while he leaves out those fine right-wing spewers Hannity & Colmes and the egregious Bill O’Reilly.

Most of the time I am faulting the media for their poor coverage or lack of coverage of significant issues. Yet the folks on the right are faulting them as well. Chances are that means they are walking the fine line of not pleasing anyone.

AstroChuck's avatar

CNN is liberal? Give me a break. Wolf Blitzer? CNN runs headline news, too. Ever heard of Glen Beck and Nancy Grace? Furthermore, calling it the Clinton News Network simply says it’s a moderate news channel at best. Clinton was hardly a liberal. I kind of think of Bill Clinton as the last good rebublican president we had.

reed's avatar

@Marina – I’ve happily disclosed my personal leanings in other posts, I’m a centrist. As such I basically have contempt for what passes as news from most media sources. If you would have read a bit more carefully, you might have picked up my bias via my comment about Tim Russert. I honestly can’t point to any news source that is totally bias free, that’s why I read and watch from sources on both the left and the right the sort out the crap. But you have a fair point, I should have certified my centrism by showing my fair and balanced side (pun intended) and pointing out Fox’s spew fest as well. But you should have left Colmes out, he’s their token luke warm liberal.

@AstroChuck – Blitzer is reasonably balanced, but it does seem CNN Headline News is their lame attempt via Beck and Grace to to balance their left leanings. Personally I can’t watch either those two without gagging, the sound of Nancy Grace’s whining is like nails on a chalkboard to me. As for Clinton being a liberal, well as compared to Obama, no, perhaps not. But Clinton wasn’t a Republican by a long shot. He, like his wife, are pure political animals who would adopt most any ideology that would either get them elected or keep them in office.

allengreen's avatar

The ownership of media has consolidated to a point where 5 companies own all major news outlets nationally. The parent companies of each network and cable networks are virtually all owned or their supsidaries are owned by defense contractors like GE.
I find the concept of a “Liberal Media” difficult to swallow since each corporate entity benifits directly frow war related activites.
For example: in the run up to the Iraq war, if the media was liberal, why was the Bush Plan not held to a higher level of scrutany? Does the “Liberal Media” obsess about Cindy McCain stealing perscription meds. from the Church School nurses station? Do they talk about John McCain’s 1st wife, who was physically damaged while John was in Nam, and John cheated on her with Cindy before divorcing? Do we hear about the Keating 5 every day? OR do we hear about Rev. Wright, Michelle Obama being elite…..ba ba ba….now you tell me—do we have a “liberal media”? If we do I wish they would do their jobs and get off their asses.
kabish?

AstroChuck's avatar

Clinton’s big rise was due to him bringing the party to the center. Obama is a liberal? Please! True, he is more to the left of Bill, but hardly liberal. I laugh everytime Fox News claims Obama is the most liberal in the senate. Kerry is more liberal but also not the most. Of course in 2004 he was “the most liberal” person in congress. The right has far more control of mainstream media, as only a handful of corporations own it. The “left wing media” bullshit is spewed out by the same propogansists who want you to believe global warming is bullshit.

ljs22's avatar

Yeah, said mother doesn’t believe in global warming either. It’s a wonder I still visit home once per month. sigh

nocountry2's avatar

What are some of her arguments? It could also be noted that people tend to find evidence for what they are looking for…

ljs22's avatar

Well, basically she believes that scientists are divided on global warming but the ones that find evidence to the contrary are not published/focused on by our liberal media.

charybdys's avatar

I think the corporate-owned media is corporate-biased, obviously. And has mostly failed, they seem to completely just swallow bullshit and never challenge “truthiness”. NPR seems pretty decent. BBC is also not terrible. But it looks like conservative or liberal bias when their owners need to skew opinion on stuff.

As for global warming, sure there are debates, but its not media coverage that is a problem. Science publishing, when fairly done, is peer-reviewed. So when a study has merit, it can get published even when it disagrees with everyone. There are many terrible studies done, in global warming, medicine and drugs, and just about anything that has relevance. And they are done maliciously to try to obscure inconvenient truths. Think tobacco and cigarette studies in the past. Another point is funding. When a oil-company sponsored study is done about global warming, you need really look closely, cause lying or bias are not so difficult to achieve.

Regarding global warming, I’ll take Pascal’s wager.

Jiminez's avatar

“Reality has a well-known liberal bias.” – Stephen Colbert

Crusader's avatar

Liberal have a well-known Reality bias- Anonymous

Rude_Bear's avatar

Liberal Media Bias is an invention of the far Right. It’s a simple situation where, by being less to the right then them, combined with the illusion that they’re in the center, the media must be biased to the left.
Secondly, it’s a great way to discredit any information you don’t like… If the truth offends you, blame the messenger.
Lastly, the media is owned by ginormous corporations who are in business to make money for their rich owners. This is hardly an altruistic endeavor.

plethora's avatar

@Upward Very, very broad generalizations. (As an aside, If YOU’RE in the Bible Belt…and if YOU’RE on the East or West coasts…..sorry, this is a Beagle who is a bit of an English snob). I have friends on both coasts and in New England who think the media has a dramatic liberal bias. I also have a friend in Santa Fe, a rather liberal place, who is a registered Democrat and who spent most of her career in DC working for Birch Bayh, who thinks that not only does the media have a liberal bias, but that the country has taken a dramatic turn to the left.

Ron_C's avatar

From what I read, conservatives say there is a liberal media bias and liberals say there is a conservative media bias. I found some of the results surprising. The New York Times trends towards conservative, the Wall Street Journal is obviously conservative or even neoconservative. Surprisingly, USA Today was seen to have the most balanced news coverage. Talk radio is overwhelmingly conservative and many are hard right John Birch conservative.

Fox-hard right, MSNBC hard left except Joe Scarborough who is and old style conservative (not screamingly Carl Rove conservative. CNN swings both ways and mostly leaves out articles that are too far left.

I get my news from the BBC and Al Jazeera. If you want to find out about the news in the U.S. you cannot trust any news organization.

Nullo's avatar

Depends on the media. Most journalists are liberal, and so have that skewing their reporting. Sometimes it’s more blatant.

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo where does it say that journalists are liberal? I would agree that most college educated people tend to trend toward liberal point of views but wouldn’t that be because they are more enlightened than the average neo-con robot that watches Fox News?

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C Do note that I said most journalists. This is a judgment that I make after observing known journalists, sampling op-eds, and so on.
Liberalism as a product of education isn’t so much from enlightenment as it is the slant of the curriculum and indeed, the scholastic environment itself. Liberal points of view are presented in a vacuum, or else are pitted against conservative straw men. For the conservative student, the underlying theme is that you’re wrong, but we’ll humor you – or just grade you poorly. This becomes more evident when you actually take up a conservative viewpoint in a discussion. The attitude that you demonstrate here, @Ron_C, of the inherent inferiority of conservative principles, is pervasive.
Perhaps the elitism that’s so cozy with liberalism is fed well in an environment where professors are Right and the student is Wrong if he disagrees. I was surprised at how often I was ‘corrected’ (that is, the professor would re-state the ‘right’ argument) for my conservatism. No matter what point I’d raise, I was either ‘wrong’, or else the teacher would evade the question.
Business classes were mercifully free of that kind of thing.

Calling everybody who disagrees with your politics a neo-con robot is only going to irritate them.

plethora's avatar

@Nullo Well stated, Sir, re comment by @Ron_C

Ron_C's avatar

@Nullo I was conservative until Reagan ran for office. I saw such narrow minded and mindless rhetoric at the convention that I dropped out of the party and turned independent.

I was Republican when Eisenhower was in office and even though I was not old enough to vote I worried when he left office. Today’s conservatives would never accept him as president, even St. Reagan would probably be too liberal for them.

It is easy to be a conservative, today. Everything you think has already been thought, corporations are people just like you so make sure they are well fed and comfortable. The poor are naturally criminals and need to be controlled and punished and prisons are a good business investment for all the money you don’t have in the arms industry.

The reason Santorum is against higher education is that it makes young people think instead of follow and it is common knowledge that the uneducated and under-educated are easier to lead. Give them religion and a strong leader and they’ll follow you anywhere, even to oblivion,

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C While I suppose that is all well and good, you have not actually said anything immediately pertinent to the thread of the discussion. Furthermore, you have conflated the Democratic and Republican parties with liberalism and conservatism respectively, when in fact the parties are small, sharply defined circles slapped over a single large and fuzzy-edged one. As ever in these cases, I remind you to consider that Adam Sandler is a Republican.
Additionally, you have failed to properly asses conservatism, and I strongly suspect that you’re inferring motives for people like us because you do not understand what our actual motives are. In short, you are indulging in a particularly noisome conspiracy theory.

Ron_C's avatar

My experience and observations indicate that the more educated a person becomes, the more progressive he becomes. I do not accept that educational institutions set out to teach liberal points of view. Those views evolve naturally because a person becomes better informed. The only examples I’ve observe that oppose that view are graduates from colleges like Liberty University or Bob Jones university where they actually teach kids to be narrow minded and fundamentalist.

Granted that both national parties have liberal and conservative constituents, the Republican party has been taken over by the far right while the Democrats attempt to contain the “blue dog” faction.

To sum it up: conservatives believe that humans are naturally nasty and evil so they worry about punishment an control. Corporations are neither moral or immoral therefore they should be left free to control society. Progressives (liberal to you) think that humans are naturally good and just need a little encouragement from society to reach their full potential.

Granted both approaches are naive but I would rather err to a philosophy that does the least harm.

Nullo's avatar

@Ron_C For a liberal, such as yourself, liberal points of view – and liberal curricula – are considered normal. They are so blinded by their sense of superiority that they cannot possibly see anybody else’s worldview as having any merit. “Becomes better informed” in most cases works out to “gets programmed.” If the road curves left, you’ll curve left with it. If you don’t curve left with it, at least in nomine, you’re in for some grief.

Accept it or not, but my educational experience begs to differ with your wishful thinking.

Ron_C's avatar

I know that my education may be unique to me and yours may be different. I have, however, have traveled extensively and have attended a number of schools, albeit, only for a course or two. In my 64 years the one constant I’ve seen is that the more isolated and ignorant (not stupid) the more likely that person is to be religious and conservative.

I appears, to me, that those steeped in fundamentalist southern religion are the most likely to hold ultra conservative and fundamentalist views. Like I said, that is just my experience, yours may be different.

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