Thursday, January 29, 2009

Liberal Media

I've always thought the idea that the media are excessively "liberal" was mostly foolish. Lazy and stupid, credulous and superficial? Definitely. Especially television. In newspapers it's still possible to find in-depth coverage of complicated and unsexy issues. Which is why our coffee table is overflowing with the residua of the three papers to which we subscribe. The New York Times, despite occasional misfires, remains a bastion of broad and deep and thorough coverage.

I also subscribe to the famous Colbert quote that "reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Anyhow, in the above context I find this graphic interesting:

These were the days leading up to the votes on the stimulus bill. And lookie there: who has the most balanced appearances?

Not that any of it was useful. I'd have much preferred to hear real discussions of the pros and cons of tax cuts and infrastructure spending, by people who actually study those things. What we heard was congresspeople -- by far mostly Republicans -- spouting the usual party tropes with no real elucidation.

Meanwhile, I sense a trend. For some reason the television "news" media seem to think now is the time to show their lack of bias, and to do so by giving preference to the right wing. It's taking that old idea that "balance" requires giving equal time to opposite opinions, even if one is demonstrably wrong, and carrying it over the cliff.

That's the liberal media for ya. Rant on, Bill. It's working.


  1. Love the blog (both of them).

    I'd love to show that graph to a couple of folks. Do you have a link to the source?

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks!

    BTW, write another book.

  3. Umm..I don't get it, a graph from 3 days...with the vertical scale distorted to make small differences look significant...
    and even if I accept your fatally flawed prop, Fox News IS the most fair and balanced...
    Too bad you can't depict Chris Matthews Fellatio technique on a graph...
    Nice to see the Bi-Partisanship in action...


  4. Frank, if you're the small sample size is a problem, and you're interested in reading further on the subject, head to




    There you can read detailed studies of guest appearances on Sunday shows from 1997 to 2006

    Or, you can ignore it, and think of more immature vulgarities for those you disagree with. That'll show us libruls!

  5. Frank, I'm sure it's just me that can't make heads or head of what you just said. For one thing, the vertical axis is evenly spaced. For another..... wha????

  6. What a silly idea--the media being on Obama's side.

  7. Politico, the paragon of impartiality. Mark Halperin, the author's friend, is a (presumably) smarter version of Bill O'Reilly. Nor, once again, is my point addressed or, most likely, even understood: the concept of "liberal" press. My point is that the press, especially television, is lazy and useless. And that, of late, it seems to be bending backwards to be seen as NOT liberal. Note I didn't even mention Obama. But then, what I do and don't say usually has little to do with what certain commenters have to say.

  8. Impartial or not, Politico has quotes, which I imagine would be refuted were this made up. Is Stephanopoulos, he of the real media, unbiased, you think?

    Whether the media is generally liberal is the title of your piece, Sid. Is that not your point? Maybe I am a little dense, then. Here are some pretty visible people clearly in the bag for BO. Or would you not consider that liberal leaning?

  9. Do you watch Stephanopoulos" show? Have you seen him grill people of all sides? Notice his "panel," George Will, Cokie Roberts? He is, in fact, one of the more impartial questioners, if you pay attention. Actually asks followups, as opposed to most. To assert he or anyone is in the bag for BO without examples to back it up is sort of useless.

  10. So, are you suggesting that Stephy is not personally liberal? Or are you suggesting that his worldview doesn't affect how he sees things, and what things are interesting to him?

    If a conservative poses a conservative solution to a problem, as opposed to a liberal solution, doesn't Stephy sit up and say, "wow! Really? You'd d THAT?" As opposed to the lib solution where he'd say, "Of course" and move on?

  11. Okay, I type more slowly this time. The question is not whether GS is "personally" liberal; in his specific case it's how he behaves on his show. You are imagining what he thinks. How about addressing what he says and how he interviews people, and the content of his show.

    And once again, s...l...o...w...l...y: my post was about the number of conservatives vs liberals on TV networks lately; and about the fact that, rather than having bias toward a party, they are biased toward lazy and sensational reporting. I bet you could agree with that last part, huh?

  12. It seems to me there's a much more fundamental liberal bias built into a specific journalist mindset: Tell the story of the little guy.

    Focussing on the underdogs of society, those who've fallen between the cracks or who often can't make their own voices heard leads very easily into "society should do more to help these people". Which is generally seen as a left-wing sort of sentiment.

    So I think right-wingers watch tv and hear about all sorts of mega-corps walking all over John Q. Threadbare-Socks, and perceive a liberal bias, while well educated people see exceptionally stupid right-wing pundits on *all* the time, and see a conservative bias. The real problem is that the intellectual or ethical level of the newsmedia has dropped so low that they cannot understand how to give a balanced interview.

  13. Anonymous, whoever you are: careful critic that must be, I assume you watched "This Week" today (2/1). Were the two panels stacked? Did you detect a bias away from facts? Were the opinions only -- or even unfairly -- liberal?

  14. I'm one anonymous--I don't have a blog, but my name is still Bill. Incidentally, I'm not the only anonymous on your blog.

    Didn't watch. Don't know when it's on. Don't watch much TV politics. I do miss Crossfire, though.

    Sorry. I'm sure there's plenty that turn out right-leaning, plenty that are left leaning. Do you find everything to be right down the middle except Fox? I agree, their world view does seem to be mostly right. And it affects how they sequence the stories, etc. Are they the only ones where their world view is noticeable? Really?

  15. Bill (and I really appreciate the identification -- it's annoying to have to try to pick among anonymous anonymi): I think Fox is clearly right wing and no one would deny it. Likewise, MSNBC is trying to be a similar voice on the left; however, with the exception of Olbermann, I think the people on MSNBC froth significantly less, mouth-wise. Fox has O'Reilly, Hannity, Susteren, Beck, those morning dweebs. MSNBC has Scarborough who's clearly a right winger, and Matthews who's sort of AC/DC and frequently unintelligible.

    But the real question is about the media that claim impartiality, like newspapers. In the major ones, the editorial slant is now to the right, I'd say: WA Times, WA Post (yes, the Post), NY Post, WSJ (all of Murdoch's papers). On the left there's really only the NY TImes and to a lesser extent the LA Times.

    More than that, it's about the news articles themselves. Opinion pages are just that. I think the NYT, for example, and the WSJ too, both do a pretty credible job of covering issues broadly and deeply without overt bias. Particularly if you read cover to cover.

    The Sunday talk shows are mostly useless, although I admit I can't stop watching. The guests say predictable stuff and the hosts rarely ask meaningful followup questions. And some -- like David Gregory -- are either willfully ignorant or trying too hard not to appear left-leaning.

    So that's my take: the media are, on average, not "liberal." They are, on average, lazy and shallow.

  16. P.S: I assume the comment to which you were responding ("I don't watch") was directed at another anonymous, the one who generally is negative but refuses to identify in any useful way, in terms of my responding without confusing other anonymi. So thanks, once again, for the name.


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