A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bias in the media

Some intersting point, counterpoint on my Snark Club post in regards to the media, but while I invite you to read the entire thing, I want to highlight a few things temporary costello says because... well... I think he wants it both ways. In his first posted comment, TC makes the following observation:
Which I believe was one of Jack Montag's main points. In your review of the Journal's supposed bias, you view the articles through your own preconceptions. If I performed the same review, my results of left/right/neutral are likely to show the Journal editorial page as far more right leaning than yours. But since neither of is is objectively neutral (and we both have freely admitted it) what purpose will such a review serve, except to reinforce our own preconceived notions?
This point was made to illustrate how my review of bias is affected by my own bias. Fair enough. The point, then, is that we view all things, and interpret all things, through our own preconceived notions. So far so good, and I generally agree with this argument, though I think people making a conscious effort to be objective will do a better job at it than those who don't, and I think that hearing other viewpoints on various topics and issues helps to keep preconceived notions from becoming mantra.

Right. Now, in his second comment in the same thread, TC states the following:
First of all, the idea that the media has been liberal for decades is simply a strawman (another mythical creature that roams the Internets). Where is the evidence? Simply pointing out that the majority of journalists are self-identified as liberal isn't enough, that does not necessarily mean that the news reporting itself follows that pattern. For every instance of articles being slanted leftward, you can find rightward examples. I have seen several cases in the Journal where the right leaning ownership has dictated the placement and editing of news articles. Data is not the plural of anecdote.
This directly refutes what he wrote above. If everyone is influenced by their preconceptions, why is the fact that the vast majority of journalists are liberal not sufficient evidence of a leftward bias in media? Are we to assume that journalists are the only humans on the planet able to set aside their own preconceptions and be entirely objective? Why wouldn't the news reporting follow the preconceptions? Certainly if the vast majority of journalists are liberal, they probably aren't bumping up against a lot of alternative viewpoints in their newsrooms or alternative perspectives from their editors. Which leaves self-policing. I think a lot of journalists try to be objective, and I think many succeed in being reasonably neutral in their reporting, but come on. The fact that most journalists are self-identified as liberal IS enough to conclude that news is probably slanted to that viewpoint-- why should we think human nature is suspended for news coverage?

But on top of that, there are a myriad of examples of this bias in news reporting. The Eason Jordan and Rathergate examples being merely the most egregious of recent months. TC states that for every example of leftward slant in the media, he could cite an example of rightward slant. I find this terribly hard to believe. So, don't spend time on your blog, TC, spend it on mine. Send me a sampling of all those rightwardly slanted news articles to me, and I'll post it here in its entirity. My email is libertarian_librarian@hotmail.com. I would particularly like an example where a network news anchor aired a story on a democrat or liberal with material that was never vetted and that he or she had reason to believe was fraudulent.


Hey, no problem. Two examples right off the top of my head:

The Ann Coulter cover article in Time. John Cloud makes the statement that he could not find many examples where Coulter made erroneous or outright false statements. He couldn't even do a Lexis search to even attempt to verify these things.

Aaaaannnnnd.... how about the attention paid to the Swift Boat book? the outright false claims made within were debunked within days, and in at least one case I remember actually contradicted within the book itself. But not only were the authors treated with incredulity, it seemed that the news anchors could not be bothered to even read the damn book.


But I'm not here to play tit for tat. The point is that for all the crying of liberal bias, the news media actually used to try and expose the truth. In the past thirty years, the constant bleating from the right of 'Bias in the media! Bias in the Media! Help, Help, we're being repressed!" has converted a more or less middle of the road journalistic ethos into a knees-quaking 'on one hand then the other' little questioned alternative viepoint presentation that does not inform, but only serves to inflame.

There. that's my bias.
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