[lit-ideas] The nature of Media Bias

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 14:16:02 -0800

I have regularly been puzzled when I hear ?liberals, leftists, Democrats?
(pick the least offensive term) say they think the media is biased against
their position.  Perhaps someone has developed an objective measure:
Robert Barro in the December 13, 2004 issue of The Weekly Standard describes
an ongoing study entitled ?A Measure of Media Bias,? by professors Tim
Groseclose of UCLA and Jeffrey Milyo of the University of Missouri.  The
study takes  the well known rating system issued by the ADA, Americans for
Democratic Action and develops a ?clever statistical technique? to measure
conservative or liberal bias in the news coverage of major U.S. television
and radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and the internet.  Groseclose and
Milyo looked at News Reporting only and not at editorials.
They determined that their system had validity because they used it to rate
congress during the 1995-99 period and came out with the following results.
All Members                50.1
Democrats                    84.3
Republicans                  16.1
You will recall that the ADA gives higher scores to those who agree with
their (Liberal? Leftist? Democrat?) Position.  Note that when congress is
averaged out, the score is 50.1 which is close to what the nation?s voters
usual average.
Here are the scores for the Media Outlets:
Wall Street Journal                                           85.1
New York Times                                              73.7
CBS Evening News                                          73.7
LA Times                                                         70.0
CBS Early Show                                              66.6
Washington Post                                               66.6
Newsweek                                                       66.3
NPR Morning Edition                                       66.3
US News and World Report                            65.8
Time Magazine                                                 65.4
USA Today                                                      63.4
NBC Nightly News                                          61.6
ABC World News Tonight                               61.0
Drudge Report                                                 60.4
ABC Good Morning America                           56.1
CNN News Night with Aaron Brown               56.0
News Hour with Jim Lehrer                              55.8
Fox News with Brit Hume                                39.7
Washington Times                                            35.4
Barro concludes his article with the following ?The bottom line from the
Groseclose-Milyo study is that the political slant of most of the mainstream
media is far to the left of the typical member of Congress.  Thus, if the
political opinions of viewers, listeners, and readers are similar to those
of their elected representatives, the political leanings of most of the
media are far to the left of those of most of their customers.  This
mismatch suggests profit opportunities for conservative-oriented, or at
least balanced, media outlets.  Fox News is probably only the beginning.
Maybe the next conservative entrant will be a recreated CBS News.?
Unfortunately Barro doesn?t give us the details of Groseclose & Milyo?s
?clever statistical technique.?  
Lawrence Helm
San Jacinto

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