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Is There A Liberal Bias in the Media?

Media Bias


by Kerby Anderson


 


 


A recent survey by the PewResearchCenter confirmed the obvious: there is a liberal bias in the media.  I doubt this came as any surprise to you.  As the current joke goes: "And in a related news story, the PewResearchCenter also discovered the earth is round." Obviously the major media in this country has a liberal bias, but there is much more in the fine print of the Pew survey that should concern us.


 


First, what did the PewResearchCenter find?  They interviewed 547 media professionals (print, TV and radio) and asked them to identify their political perspective.  They found that 34 percent were liberal and only 7 percent were conservative. That means that liberals are five times more common than conservatives in the news business.


 


Second, how do these percentages correlate with the general public?  Only 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as liberal while 33 percent identify themselves as conservative. So while one-third of Americans are conservative, the Pew survey could only find 7 percent of media professionals who would label themselves as conservative.


 


Obviously the mainstream media is much more liberal than the general public. But it is also becoming more liberal with each passing year. A survey in 1995 showed that 22 percent of media professionals considered themselves to be liberal compared with 34 percent today.  That's a 12 percent increase in less than a decade!


 


Third, we should also question whether the majority of media professionals who labeled themselves as moderate in the Pew survey really deserve that label. Most liberal journalists tend to think of themselves as representing the mainstream. After all, the major media is usually called the "mainstream media." So in these self-identification polls media professionals may call themselves moderate, when they should be calling themselves liberal.


 


Some of the questions on the survey clearly showed this to be the case.  For example, 88 percent of these media professionals said that homosexuality should be approved of by society.  That percentage is 37 percent higher than the general population.


 


These journalists were asked to list a news organization that was "especially conservative."  Some 82 percent were able to do so (most named Fox News).  But when these same people were asked to list a news organization that was "especially liberal," a surprising 62 percent could not name any news organization that fit that label!


 


I would think most Americans could make quite a list of liberal news organizations starting with newspapers like the New York Times, TV networks like CNN, and radio programs like National Public Radio. Apparently that question was too hard for those working in the media!


 


Fourth, not only did the Pew survey show the liberal bias of the press, it also showed the secular bias of the press.  According to their survey of Americans, they found that 60 percent of the general public believes it is necessary to believe in God to be a truly moral person.  Among journalists, however, only 15 percent share that view.


 


Two decades ago Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman surveyed the attitudes of the media elite. These are the people in news who determine what you read, what you see, and what you hear.  They found that 89 percent of the media elite seldom or never attend religious services. They don't go to church or synagogue. They don't know people who go to church or synagogue.


 


They also asked those in the media elite to identify their religious affiliation.  Half could not come up with an answer (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, whatever). Of all the institutions in America, the media is the most secular.


 


David Aikman, former senior correspondent for Time magazine, recently said on Point of View that the major media is essentially "tone deaf" when it comes to religion. They don't understand the faith of George W. Bush. They don't understand evangelicals or Catholics nor the influence and impact of these and other groups on politics or other aspects of society.


 


Finally, does this bias affect coverage?  The Pew survey found that 55 percent of national journalists believe that President Bush should be treated more critically by the press than he has been.  In other words, they believe he has gotten off too easily!


 


Contrast this with studies done by the Center for Media and Public Affairs that easily document a constant drumbeat of Bush bashing.  In fact, they only found two periods of favorable coverage during the network evening news programs: the weeks after September 11 and the actual war coverage in Iraq.  This year, they found that three-fourths of the stories about Democratic candidates were positive.  For Bush, the stories were over 60 percent negative.


 


The evidence is there for anyone to see. The major media continue their leftward march and don't seem especially concerned about the liberal bias.  Nearly half those polled agreed that often their ideological views color their reporting. As John Leo said in U.S. News and World Report, this is "a devastating admission, something like an umpire's union reporting that half its membership like to favor the home team."


 


No wonder readership is declining, and viewership is also declining. People looking for an honest reporting of the news just received another reason to cancel their subscription or turn off the radio or television.


 


The news business is one of the only businesses in America that seems to delight in hiring more and more people who disagree with their customers. And when circulation and audience decline, they continue to go out of their way to alienate their customers even more.


Fortunately, there is an alternative. That was the dream of Marlin Maddoux: to provide a fair, honest alternative to the bias of the major media. We are working every day to give you the news that others ignore and present you with all the facts, not just the ones that are allowed through the liberal, secular filter of the media elite.  Thank you for standing with us.