Monday, October 13, 2008

[Feature] The Liberal Media

The presidential election is only a few weeks away and the Obama/Biden ticket has opened a 6%-8% lead in most polls; of course, the McCain camp is working hard in order to make up this difference. One claim coming from conservatives is that the "liberal" media is not going after Obama as tough as it should be. The notion that the media gives liberal candidates a break and unfairly criticizes conservative candidates has been claimed by conservatives as far back as the Nixon presidency.
Is it true?
A 2004 study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that more journalists share liberal points of view than conservatives points of view. According to the report, 34% of national journalists consider themselves liberals while only 7% of national journalists consider themselves conservatives. Although the study does not show any evidence that a journalist's political point of view affects his ability to be objective, it does lead to speculation about the fairness in the media. The following appeared in an article in Accuracy In Media, an organization that monitors the national media:
Conservatives justify their belief that a liberal media bias exists by arguing that journalists are liberal, and that their ideology affects how journalists cover the news. For example, a survey in 1992 showed that 89% of Washington, DC, journalists voted for President Clinton in the 1992 Presidential election. These results may explain why throughout 1992, the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) found that more than 70% of the networks' sound-bites about President Bush were negative, whereas the majority of sound-bites about Governor Clinton were positive.
The liberal media argument could be used in order to gain political advantage even in cases where there is no evidence of a bias media. Eric Alterman of the nation writes that during the 1992 election Rich Bond, the chairman of the Republican Party at the time, said "There is some strategy to it [bashing the 'liberal' media].... If you watch any great coach, what they try to do is 'work the refs.' Maybe the ref will cut you a little slack on the next one."

The liberal media argument has been used before. In those cases the groups making the allegations were less than reputable. For example, during the civil rights movement, some white southerners accused the media of being too liberal. Clearly, unlike some of those southern whites, the Republican party has nothing but the best intentions for the future of the United States. However, I do feel that accusing the media of being liberal is a losing argument for a public figure. Why would you call the guy who's going to write about you a jerk? I understand that the media should be as objective at possible in most cases, but I also know that it is possible for personal bias to leak into one's professional work.

There are media outlets that tend to be liberal (NBC) and there are those that tend to be conservative (FOX). I believe that there are others that are attention whores and will do anything for ratings (CNN). Is the media liberal? It probably trends that way, but it is not nearly as bad as some conservatives make it out to be.

Bottom-Line Pressure Now Hurting Coverage, Say Journalists
What Liberal Media?

New Evidence of Liberal Media