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Tuesday, 13 September 2005
Media Bias
Topic: Out of Flyover Land
From time to time on International Discussion Forums, someone from another country will ask questions.

There is often a difference of opinion on matters between Americans online.

Recently a few of us were trying to explain Liberal Media Bias, when one of our counterparts posted the following,

"That's so funny you keep saying this - several months ago NPR did an anonymous poll of journalist across America and found that 48% of them declared themselves REPUBLICANS"

That was a surprise and if anyone knows a source for such a poll, I would be interested to peruse it.

As far as I can determine from source I can find the situation is much different.

Studies Show Reporters Less Conservative Than General Public

A survey released in May 2004 by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press provides the most recent figures to this evidence. That study shows journalists at the local and national level consider themselves more liberal compared with the public overall and less conservative. But like the general public, most journalists call themselves moderates. (Some commentators on this survey wonder if the survey participants may call themselves moderate despite not having those views.)

"Journalists at national and local news organizations are notably different from the general public in their ideology and attitudes toward political and social issues," the survey's summary notes. "Most national and local journalists, as well as a plurality of Americans (41%), describe themselves as political moderates. But news people - especially national journalists - are more liberal, and far less conservative, than the general public."

The survey found that 20 percent of general public calls itself liberal while 34 percent of the national journalists and 23 percent of local journalists. Forty-one percent of the public calls itself moderate while 54 percent of the national and 61 percent of the local journalists do so.

That compares with how 33 percent of the American public calls itself conservative compared with 7 percent of the national and 12 percent of local journalists.

Liberal Media Evidence

THE ARGUMENT over whether the national press is dominated by liberals is over. Since 1962, there have been 11 surveys of the media that sought the political views of hundreds of journalists. In 1971, they were 53 percent liberal, 17 percent conservative. In a 1976 survey of the Washington press corps, it was 59 percent liberal, 18 percent conservative. A 1985 poll of 3,200 reporters found them to be self-identified as 55 percent liberal, 17 percent conservative. In 1996, another survey of Washington journalists pegged the breakdown as 61 percent liberal, 9 percent conservative. Now, the new study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found the national media to be 34 percent liberal and 7 percent conservative.

Over 40-plus years, the only thing that's changed in the media's politics is that many national journalists have now cleverly decided to call themselves moderates. But their actual views haven't changed, the Pew survey showed. Their political beliefs are close to those of self-identified liberals and nowhere near those of conservatives. And the proportion of liberals to conservatives in the press, either 3-to-1 or 4-to-1, has stayed the same. That liberals are dominant is now beyond dispute.

Now one retort to the above is to point out the percentage of the mediawho consider themselves to be moderate, but I wonder, is a Dubuque moderate the same as one who lives in LA, NY, or DC?

Labels such as Conservative, Liberal and Moderate are subjective and cover a range of political thougth.

Party affiliation is more definitive. Visual aids such as graphs show the demarcation more vividly.

Media Bias Basics

What is the opinion of those in the media on this topic? Let us look at a small sample of the more prominent opinions from the above source.

"I thought he [former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg] made some very good points. There is just no question that I, among others, have a liberal bias.
- CBS's 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney

Most of the time I really think responsible journalists, of which I hope I'm counted as one, leave our bias at the side of the table. Now it is true, historically in the media, it has been more of a liberal persuasion for many years.
ABC anchor Peter Jennings

"There is a liberal bias. It?s demonstrable. You look at some statistics. About 85 percent of the reporters who cover the White House vote Democratic, they have for a long time. There is a, particularly at the networks, at the lower levels, among the editors and the so-called infrastructure, there is a liberal bias. There is a liberal bias at Newsweek, the magazine I work for.
Newsweek Washington Bureau Chief Evan Thomas

"Everybody knows that there's a liberal, that there's a heavy liberal persuasion among correspondents...
Walter Cronkite

Now Walter Cronkite does present a reason for this,

.Anybody who has to live with the people, who covers police stations, covers county courts, brought up that way, has to have a degree of humanity that people who do not have that exposure don't have, and some people interpret that to be liberal. It's not a liberal, it's humanitarian and that's a vastly different thing

Loose translation, conservatives are not humanitarian, but of course that is not a Liberal bias, just reality as they see it.

And last but not least a complete admission from the direction of CNN

"I do have an axe to grind...I want to be the little subversive person in television."
Barbara Pyle, CNN Environmental Editor and Turner Broadcasting Vice President for Environmental Policy

All of this might explain a curious situation recently at CNN, it was either bias or journalistic incompetance of such a magnitude as defy belief.

I will let you decide.

From the "Bias? What liberal bias?" files...
On Saturday, had a piece [9/12 clarification carried by Reuters] titled "Firms with White House ties get Katrina contracts:"

Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.

One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton.

The Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, CNN tells us, is a major corporate client of Joe Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Among its Katrina-related contracts are this one valued up to $100 million from FEMA; and this one also valued up to $100 million from the Army Corps of Engineers.

But in their zeal to embarrass the Bush administration, CNN overlooks one very fat and inconvenient fact--and embarrasses only itself.

The Shaw Group, a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, is headed by Jim Bernhard, the current chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.
Bernhard worked tirelessly for Democrat Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco's runoff campaign and served as co-chair of her transition team. Another Shaw executive was Blanco's campaign manager. Bernhard is back-scratching chums with Blanco, whom he has lent/offered the Shaw Group's corporate jets to on numerous occasions.

Now I just WONDER, how did CNN happen to miss this little tidbit?

"Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Is big news.

The Shaw Group, a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, is headed by Jim Bernhard, the current chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party

Was not that important and so was left out of the story, or CNN could not report a PTA meeting with out missing most of it.

You choose.


Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 8:27 AM CDT
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Updated: Sunday, 3 June 2007 7:12 AM CDT

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