What is good media reporting? Have you ever sat down and really thought about what makes a good reporter? The societal norm is that a news organization or reporter must be objective to be considered really good. Hey, the media itself is very important and was/is an essential tool for keeping government accountable to the people. Since it is not regulated, it can critique and act as a watchdog for government.
But…even though the media has the capability of being a great help to the American people, it can also be a great hurt to the American people. Here are a few of my theoretical and statistical thoughts about the media and bias.
One: The Media Does Not Have to Be Unbiased
Yup. That’s right. There is nothing, no law, no Constitutional imperative, literally nothing, that says that the news media must present unbiased “facts only” news. In fact, the idea that the media must be unbiased is something that the media themselves promote, and claim to require of themselves. They didn’t start really pushing this idea until after the Civil War when the media starting priding itself on “accuracy and impartiality”. But there are no (and were no) legal requirements for the media to present unbiased news.
And quite frankly, can we really expect the media to be unbiased? It is made up of opinionated, self-pleasing individuals (much like all humans) making the expectation of unbiased reporting a bit farfetched, even for them.
Two: The Media Used to Always Be Biased
This is true, as surprising as it might be. In fact, the media (newspapers at the time) was completely created, controlled, sponsored and published by political parties. For example, in the late 1700s the Federalists created their Gazette of the United States while the Republicans retaliated with the National Gazette. In fact, some scholars estimate that around 50 journalists were on the government payroll during this era (and there weren’t that many journalists).
Of course, the key here is that everyone knew that the newspapers were biased towards the party controlling it. However, at least citizens knew which party bias they were reading from and could get newspapers from both sides of the aisle as a way to mitigate the bias and uncover facts.
Three: Since The Media Is Biased, It Should Never Say That It Is Unbiased
So, I’ve dispelled the myth that the media must be unbiased. There’s nothing virtuous about being objective, as many people would have you believe (if there is, please tell me what makes objectivity virtuous). Meaning, when you get frustrated with the news for being “biased”, try to step back and think about that. Are you frustrated with the media you listen to for being biased? Most likely, if you are conservative, you have your sources that you believe, and, if I’m not mistaken, those sources are likely quite biased —- in the conservative direction. Yes? So, our quarrel is not with biased reporting. No, biased reporting is a given, and it is foolish to believe there can be anything but biased reporting.
What we should be frustrated with, however, is biased reporting that is presented as unbiased reporting. The media has created this unattainable “goal” of presenting “objective” facts, and we have bought into the notion that certain media companies are doing just that. And they present themselves in that way. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the slogans many news media outlets adopt. For example: CNN = ”The Most Trusted Name in News” & “Facts First” or The New York Times new slogan saying “The truth is more important now than ever”. Even Fox News prides itself on being “Fair and Balanced”.
Supposedly, the media believes that consumers are drawn to “objective” coverage and therefore market themselves as such. Why? Because we believe the following: one, that objective coverage is better, more virtuous; and two, that there is such a thing as objective coverage.
Here’s the question then. Does anyone truly believe that any of the aforementioned news sources are truly presenting the hard and cold facts?
No (perhaps you do believe them, which is why this article is even more important for you!).
Many of you would say no. And yet, there is a vast majority of the population that will watch the news under the impression that they are receiving as little biased information as possible. And this is why the media have become the “enemy”. When the media tells us that they are giving us objective facts, when in reality, they are not — because doing so is impossible. Therefore, they are now intentionally misleading and manipulating the gullible public.
Four: Deceptive Media Coverage Is Far More Dangerous Than Biased Media Coverage
The media today, with all its bias cloaked in objectivity, is far more damaging to the public than any of the party run newspapers of the 1790s. Why? Because they are acting as if they are on our side, the side of the average, moderate American, when, in fact, they are intentionally setting their own agenda, misleading, focusing on some stories over others, slanting and framing stories a certain way, all to promote their desired political outcomes. All the while, we’re told that we’re being fed the “unbiased” truth.
Let me tell you right now, we are not. Just read a minute longer and you’ll start to see the truth.
Five: Right Now The Left Has A Monopoly on Media Coverage But Says That It Is Unbiased
I’m going to give you guys a few fascinating nuggets of information from a book entitled Left Turn (2012). It’s written by Timothy Groseclose, a respected political scientist and professor at UCLA. And, as an academic scholar myself, let me tell you how rare it is to find statistical work in my field that does not slant left. He is a brilliant mind and made some fascinating statistical discoveries that many in the media did not like. His work is scientific and I would highly suggest purchasing his book and reading the whole thing for yourself. It’s enlightening and sobering and will give you the necessary scientific data to back up what your gut has already been telling you—-that the media is painfully biased in the liberal direction.
Dr. Groseclose invents something he calls the “political quotient” or a device constructed to measure political views in a precise, object and quantitative way. He then measures this PQ (as he refers to it) of members in the media and of average Americans to find where the media’s PQ falls in relation to the average person in the United States. Pay attention to some of his findings, that are rather staggering and quite enlightening.
He says, “In at least one important way journalists are very different from the rest of us—-they are more liberal. For instance, according to surveys, in a typical presidential election Washington correspondents vote about 93-7 for the Democrat, while the rest of America votes about 50–50.”
“What happens when our view of the world is filtered through the eyes, ears, and minds of such a liberal group? As I demonstrate, using objective, social-scientific methods, the filtering prevents us from seeing the world as it actually is. Instead, we see only a distorted version of it. It is as if we see the world through a glass—a glass that magnifies the facts that liberals want us to see and shrinks the facts that conservatives want us to see.”
He proceeds to address findings that show that Americans’ opinions would actually significantly be more conservative were it not for the liberal bias in the media. Think about it. This liberal bias would be far less influential if everyone knew that the liberal media was liberal and conservative media was conservative. But this is far from the case.
Groseclose says, “The metaphoric glass affects not just what we see, but how we think. That is, media bias really does make us more liberal. Perhaps worst of all, media bias feeds on itself. That is, the bias makes us more liberal, which makes us less able to detect the bias, which allows the media to get away with more bias, which makes us even more liberal, and so on. All of this means that the political views that we currently see in Americans are not their natural views. We see only an artificial, distorted version of those views.”
Maybe not as crazy as what his statistical analysis shows. Keep in mind that this research is the product of “(i) eight years of research; (ii) some state-of-the-art statistical and social-scientific methods; and (iii) recent, little-noticed, yet brilliant, research by some rising-star professors of economics and political science.”
Ok, so remember the PQ stands for political quotient.
Groseclose bases his PQ on issues chosen by the Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal interest group. So, he says, “to demonstrate liberal media bias, I use a measuring rod, that is based on criteria selected by liberals.”
These are his findings:
Through the notion of a slant quotient, I show that media bias, like political views, can be measured objectively and quantitatively.
According to these slant quotients, every mainstream national news outlet in the United States has a liberal bias.
Of the one hundred or so news outlets I examine, only a handful lean to the right. These include: The Washington Times, The Daily Oklahoman, the Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), and Fox News Special Report. But even these supposedly conservative news outlets are not far right. For instance, the conservative bias of Special Report is significantly less than the liberal bias of CBS Evening News, and it is approximately equal to the liberal bias of ABC World News Tonight or NBC Nightly News.
The effects of media bias are real and significant. My results suggest that media bias aids Democratic candidates by about 8 to 10 percentage points in a typical election. I find, for instance, that if media bias didn’t exist, then John McCain would have defeated Barack Obama 56–42, instead of losing 53–46. (GET THAT)
In our current world, where views are distorted by media bias, the PQ of the average voter is approximately 50. This is about the score of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) or Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Me.). (FYI: Pelosi’ PQ is 100-liberal while Bill O’Reilly’s PQ is 25-Conservative)
However, if we could magically eliminate media bias, then the PQ of the average voter would decrease to approximately 25 or 30.
In our current world, where views have been distorted toward the left, news outlets such as The Washington Times and Fox News Special Report seem conservative. However, if we could remove the left-wing bias of the media as a whole—and thus change the average voter’s PQ to 25 or 30—then The Washington Times and Special Report would seem slightly left-leaning.
Basically, what he found is that the media is so biased in the liberal direction, that moderate media looks conservative, and that moderates, in general, appear conservative.
Go read Groseclose’s book. Do your own research. And keep in mind, especially during this coronavirus outbreak, that the media is not here for you. They are out to achieve their own goals and agenda, all the while pretending to give us just the “facts”. Are they are your friends? Or are they your foes? After what you’ve just read, it should be rather obvious…but I’ll let you decide.
The Liberty Belle