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A media bias trade

A media bias trade

While journalists at mainstream media publications regularly tout their professionalism and lack of bias, the people who consume their services see the bias for what it is:

Likely voters hold a dismal view of the news media, generally regarding reporters as biased, unethical and too close to the politicians they purport to cover, according to a new poll for The Hill.

A  full 68 percent of voters consider the news media biased, the poll found. Most, 46 percent, believe the media generally favor Democrats, while 22 percent said they believe Republicans are favored, with 28 percent saying the media is reasonably balanced.

The fact that the electorate is wise to the bias does not mean the bias isn’t damaging.  It’s just that the damage moves mostly in one direction, leading to differences in perception of bias:

While negative views of the media are common among all sectors of the electorate, some intriguing patterns emerge deeper in the poll’s findings.

Self-described centrists and liberals, for example, tend to hold a less unremittingly harsh view than conservatives.

How about this.  Conservatives take control of  CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, WaPo, NYT, AP, Reuters, and so on, and liberals get the Murdoch empire?  I’d take that trade in a heartbeat.


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There was an interesting item about Calpers’ complaints about how Newscorps’ share structure gives majority voting control to the minority financial interest. What went unmentioned is that the NY Time’s controlling family does so through the same structure.

LukeHandCool | July 25, 2011 at 11:21 am

Michael Barone:

I remember a conversation I had with a broadcast news executive many years ago.

“Doesn’t the fact that 90 percent of your people are Democrats affect your work product?” I asked.

“Oh, no, no,” he said. “Our people are professional. They have standards of objectivity and professionalism, so that their own views don’t affect the news.”

“So what you’re saying,” I said, “is that your work product would be identical if 90 percent of your people were Republicans.”

He quickly replied, “No, then it would be biased.”

I have been closely acquainted with newsroom cultures for more than 30 years, and I recognize the attitude. Only liberals can see the world clearly. Conservatives are prevented by their warped and ungenerous views from recognizing the world as it is.

The New York Times and The Washington Post have often hired as reporters writers who have worked on liberal publications like The New Republic, The Washington Monthly and The American Prospect — and many of those writers have produced fine work. But they have never hired as reporters writers who have worked on conservative publications like National Review, The Weekly Standard and The American Spectator. News media executives like to brag about the diversity of their staffs, but there is precious little political diversity in most newsrooms.

And of course this affects the work product.

LukeHandCool (who loves model citizens like Michael Barone who play fair)

bob aka either orr | July 25, 2011 at 11:39 am

Professor, the guys at Power Line, one of my regular stops, had a series last week about a book — Tim Groseclose’s new book, Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind. The excerpts are fascinating enough that I’m going to look to get the book. It fits in with what you’re saying here.

The Media and Medievalism
by Robert D. Kaplan

A new tyranny rears its head

Hoover Institution

Midwest Rhino | July 25, 2011 at 12:26 pm

22% think media is Republican biased? Are those the ones that are immersed in Big Left Media, and drink the Kool-aide that only FOX has bias (and that FOX is far right and fabricated)?

Or are they just dedicated lefties that believe in lying to skew the poll for their greater good?

The journalism side of FOX is pretty darn fair and balanced, and can even tilt left. FOX keeps talking about the debt default date, a date fabricated by the left. And FOX sensationalized the Japan “nuke crisis” as badly as CNN, helping to kill new clean and safe nuke reactors here.

Playing along with a crisis, even if manufactured, plays well for ratings. And the left loves to manufacture a crisis.

Cowboy Curtis | July 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Yeah, but those 68% are mostly racist, icky christianists that live in super-gross flyover country and own guns and go to church, so they don’t really count.

LukeHandCool | July 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I find this funny. This is a tweet by a guy who was the editor of my high school newspaper and who is now a featured columnist for one of the country’s major newspapers (yes, he is a lefty):

“One of worst things in these horrific mass murders: trying to explain to my 11-year-old why this sort of thing happens.”

Really? Well, our son is 12. He asked me if it was Islamist jihadists who’d perpetrated this massacre. When I told him that this time it appeared that wasn’t the case … that it appeared to be a lone Norweigian man, he asked me why he had done it.

I replied, “Because he’s nuts.”

What’s so hard about explaining that?

I guess that’s why, unlike my old editor, I didn’t pursue journalism after high school. The truth is brutally simple at times. You don’t need to go searching for it through tens of column inches when it’s right there in front of you.

LukeHandCool (who remembers the time as a 10-year-old boy who already knew all about the birds and the bees, wondering how his father would react if asked about the subject. As he stood on the diving board watching his dad swim breastroke laps in the pool (always with his head above water, … WWII generation street-tough Chicago kid who never had learned to swim properly), Luke asked, “Dad, how did our dog and that other dog make puppies?” With no pause for reflection, his dad replied, “They f***ed.” Luke remembers thinking it was hopeless trying to elicit a tender father/son moment … but now realizes that, if parenting is an art as well as a science, his father was a kind of da Vinci … for Luke came out an extremely well-adjusted person … so, he guesses he’s fine being blunt about the truth of Islamist terrorism with his son … but will show a bit more finesse if asked about the birds and bees).

Media bias? Really, really, old news. It’s prominent in any good biography, e.g., McCullough’s of Adams and Truman, Chernow’s of Hamilton, Tanenhaus’s of Chambers, and Manchester’s Churchill. Bias and open, unapologetic boycotting is as old as the press. It is intentional, hypocritical, dishonest, and unjust. It is ignorance, sanctimony, and laziness – intellectual, or simply by nature. It is harmful to individuals, groups, or entire populations; appalling examples are the 1930’s Times of London and NYT. And it is perfectly permissible. However, so long as the market place is open and unfettered, someone will always be there to present an opposing view and call them out. The danger is that governments will interfere with the media marketplace as with PBS, behavior and protections the rest of the MSM now encourages in its own behalf. News Corp and the internet are eating their lunches (except at PBS where we buy). The marketplace is better than ever, let it run. They’ll change or go away, e.g. Newsweek, Chicago Trib, Time, LA Times, WaPo, and Sulzberger’s Fairy Tales in NYC. The same applies to News Corp. The Wall Street Journal is still with us – four times as expensive and a mere shadow if its former self, but still there. The only things much of the rest of the MSM has going for it are it’s sanctimony, deep pockets, and friends (they hope) in government. The deep pockets are emptying, friends are wavering and disappearing, and you and I are looking at Fox News, reading extremely well written topical magazines…and visiting Legal Insurrection. But, if you hurry you may still be able to pick up a NYT at your local Borders – where you never could buy a Weekly Standard or National Review.

[…] like what Professor William Jacobson from Legal Insurrection had to say about this fiasco: “How about this.  Conservatives take control of  CBS, NBC, […]

A anonymous comment on Hot Air this morning got a lot of response. It referenced “The Media and Medievalism” by Robert D. Kaplan I mentioned in a earlier comment above.

It is about Sarah Palin, the Media and trolls, those creatures found scurrying about in corners of the internet parroting MSM talking points.

“Palin has been victimized, but she is not a victim. She has not only slipped the mainstream lynching noose but turned it into a lasso for herself. This infuriates — and frightens — the media. It is why they can’t stop. It was also what infuriates and frightens the trolls. It is why they can’t stop.

Remember – the trolls are all about fear.

Only fear and loathing can explain the mephitic repetition of their comments. They are terrified of this woman. They know she has hit upon (by dint of simply being herself – her true “secret”) something which will upend politics and the RINO establishment as we’ve known it as well as the oppressive dominion of the media.

Palin is shattering cultural and media paradigms. This is exciting to many people. But it is profoundly disturbing and frightening to many others.

(I recommend Robert Kaplan’s brilliant essay “Media and Medievalism” for a perspective on the revolutionary nature of what is happening and the underlying “disturbance in the force field” caused by Palin (and of course the fear and anxiety it incites). This essay was written about six years ago and is not about Palin, but there may be no better analysis of the media’s and the mass culture’s’ nature, power and aims, and one can easily draw from it how and what Palin is doing to subvert them.)

Kaplan likens the media to modern version of the medieval Catholic Church; he sees the media as a self-anointed superclass entrusted with and sanctioned by the “truth” and with special rights of authentication and interrogation unconstrained by constitutional or societal checks. Palin has defied them, gone around them and otherwise called out their unfitness and fraudulence. She has essentially “defrocked” them. This is an outrageous heresy to the mainstream culture (liberals and RINOs sustained by media authority). It has made Palin an intolerable threat and terrifying potentiality which cannot be allowed to develop.

This is why in their attacks on her they never allow the assumption that she can win; they never present Palin as someone who might win and then do undesirable things or make decisions they don’t agree with. Rather (and this is how they disguise her threat) they describe her as someone who is hapless and inadequate, i.e., a quitter. It is her lack of qualities, her deficiencies, which deserve our contempt, they say. This, they believe, neutralizes the sense of destiny and redemption she inspires in people who feel their country is being lost to a degenerate ruling class which few are standing up against with clarity and courage. This, they believe, undercuts the heart of her appeal and potential. They see it as the most effective way to bring her down – by aborting the possibility of a run in the first place and demoralizing her supporters.

In a strange turn of events, however, the barrage of arguments intended to destroy her are becoming a motive for interest in her among others. These attacks by society’s “destroyers” will continue to validate her candidacy among many curious and concerned liberals, democrats and independents, who will continue to discover her decency and character. This likelihood is beginning to strike new fear into the hearts of her reactionary enemies, whether on the Left, in the papal media or among the frightened trolls who, for whatever political or personal reasons cannot abide this revolutionary woman and cannot stop their attacks.

When she announces, their claims that she never intended to run and was only teasing her supporters will of course be conveniently thrown down the memory hole. The same trolls who said this will shamelessly reappear and double down on their claims that she’s a quitter, cannot finish the race, and/or cannot win the general election. This refrain will become desperate and deafening. That is because they must stop the sense of inexorable motion against enormous odds which, in part, they have worked to create, and which inspire her base and stir interest in her as an authentic “rebel” figure or true and organic political “outsider.” Once again, all their attacks will have worked against them, not her.

The beautiful paradox and perversity of this will be that the haters – and the totality of overweening one-dimensional hate from all sources – will be the things that help convert her candidacy into something interesting and worthwhile to those the hate was intended to alienate. It will also continue to strengthen her core support. This spins the cycle of fear, desperation and hate.

The trolls who appear here understand on some level the originality of who she is and what she is doing and the necessity of it for our time. It terrifies them.”

rrpjr on July 25, 2011 at 1:01 AM

[…] Law Prof Bill Jacobson recently responded with a simple […]