Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Look At Media Bias

While most people see the mainstream media as liberal, many progressives see the media as having a conservative bias. Some, such as Michael Moore, point to the media's support of the Iraq War as evidence of their bias, and others argue that the media has failed to take Bush to account for his many alleged crimes. The archvillian for liberals is Fox News, but they believe that the other major TV networks and news outlets have a conservative slant as well.

Conservatives, of course, have long seen the mainstream media as a staunch opponent. They point out that many supposedly impartial hosts have long histories of liberal views (Katie Couric), or have worked in the administrations of Democratic Presidents (George Stephanopoulos). They point to the fact the news anchors seem to treat activists for conservative causes as extremists, while liberal activists are treated with respect.

Balancing these claims, it is interesting to note what each side sees as legitimate examples of bias. If one side pushes forth a collection of weak, unconvincing examples, while the other featured blatant demonstrations of media bias, then it would be safe to say that the one side would have the better case.

Media Matters is the preeminent liberal media watchdog organization. It was founded by David Brock, former self-described "conservative hit man" and liberal convert. (In other words, not Mr. Honest).

The Media Research Center is the top conservative media watchdog. It is run by Brent Bozell, whose father was one of the founders of National Review.

I decided to compare the top three (I would have included more, but it would have made for a very long post) examples of media bias from each of these sites, and see if the allegations of bias from one were markedly stronger than the other. I only included mainstream, allegedly impartial news sources, such as newspapers and TV networks. I didn't include criticisms of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or other ideological media figures.

One of Media Matters' examples of bias was the fact that the AP included the optimistic O'Hanlon/Pollack New York Times op-ed regarding Iraq in a recent piece about the op-ed and its potential impact on the politics of Iraq, but didn't mention the August 19 New York Times op-ed written by seven disaffected U.S. soldiers expressing the belief that the war cannot be won. The AP article was mostly about the O'Hanlon/Pollack op-ed, and the serviceman op-ed was somewhat beside its point.

Its second criticism was of Tucker Carlson for "[wondering] if weighing in on a political question such as this doesn't squander the awesome moral authority that these guys (the soldiers who wrote the aforementioned op-ed piece) already have", without mentioning that the fact that the piece was written in response to the O'Hanlon/Pollack op-ed, which had nothing to do with what Carlson's was trying to say.

Allegation number three was the fact that the Washington Post reporting that the group Freedom's Watch was going on the offensive against Democrats with an ad aimed at Republicans, since it apparently targeted Republicans who sided with the Democrats. Wow, that's some media bias. Is that really the best Media Matters can do?

The Media Research Center criticized CNN's Jack Cafferty for implying that it could only be fear of losing his bid for the Presidency (like he ever had a chance) that is making Chris Dodd express disapproval at a possible Bush impeachment, the New York Times for making allegedly bogus claims about wiretaps, and jumped on Katie Couric for suggesting that it would take higher taxes to fix the America's decaying infrastructure in the wake of the Minnesota bridge collapse. The last is a little weak, but the others are very blatant displays of journalistic bias. Out of Media Matters' top three stories, there was not one that could be called a true example of media bias.


At August 23, 2007 at 12:52 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Good research Daniel, but the libs don't generally like facts to get in the way of a good story.

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