Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Conservative bias on Sundays

Not in houses of worship across America but on the network talk shows.

In an important, comprehensive new study that confirms what so many of us have suspected for so long, Media Matters for America has examined the Sunday morning talk shows on NBC, CBS, and ABC from 1997-2005 and found that "conservative voices significantly outnumber progressive voices" on those shows.

Click on the link above for the executive summary (and from there for the full report).

Here's one of the key findings: "In every year examined by the study... more panels tilted right (a greater number of Republicans / conservatives than Democrats / progressives) than tilted left. In some years, there were two, three, or even four times as many righttitled panels as left-tilted panels."

No surprise. None whatsoever. But it's good to have the bias quantitatively proven.

Yet the myth of liberal bias in the media will no doubt live on.


A friendly tip of the hat to Steve Benen: "Let's all say it together, 'What liberal media?'"

See also Kevin Drum (who asks why "the anti-war side get shunned so badly by the talk shows"), Digby ("none of this is surprising to those of us who have been watching this stuff from our side of the aisle for the last decade or so"), Atrios (scroll down for several posts on the report), and Maha (read it all -- it's really good).

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  • It's frustrating that we are constantly barraged with description of the media as liberal, but when actual evidence comes out that the media leans right, there is never any mention of it in the mainstream media.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:19 AM  

  • I did a little research and it looks to me like "Media Matters" is skewed themselves. There are several factors that they didn't account for that make me question the validity of their conclusions. I don't disagree with Michael's overall point, but I encourage people to research further.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:46 PM  

  • Read the report, especially the methodology. Very enlightening. Thgey took no account of what the people were on the air to say. If you were from the Bush Administration's National Institutes of Health and you went on the air to talk about obesity, or teen smoking, you were labeled a "conservative."

    Check out the key chart on page 9 of "journalist appearances": Percent of conservative journalists during Clinton's second term = 41% while during Bush's first term it was down to 29%. Difference is, "neutral" went up from 32% to a whopping 58%.

    Here's an interesting graph:

    It should be noted that most of this disparity can be accounted for by the guests on Meet the Press and This Week. While journalists regularly appear on Face the Nation, often to participate in interviewing a newsmaker, the vast majority of these guests are non-ideologically aligned daily newspaper reporters or centrist opinion columnists.

    "[N]on-ideologically aligned daily newspaper reporters"? In 22 years in newsrooms I've never met such a thing.

    The survey lumps "centrists" with "conservatives" -- not surprising when you're coming from MMFA's position. It lumps in one graph David Broder, Fareed Zakaria, Robert Novak, and William Safire as though there's not a crack of daylight between the first two and the last. That must be how the world looks from thwere MMFA stands.

    MMFA's answer? In part, more "Writers from prominent progressive magazines" such as
    "Mother Jones."

    By Blogger Callimachus, at 2:13 PM  

  • I'll have to echo the comments above. This just seems like the sort of thing that would be very difficult to quantify. Trying to reduce the debate down to progressive vs. conservative is a case of oversimplification, what if someone is socially progressive but fiscally conservative or vice versa? You could break it down even further, what if someone is anti-abortion but also pro gay-rights? Are they socially conservative or not?

    The one thing that possibly could be quantified would be opinions stated by individuals on the shows but if Callimachus is correct then this was something that wasn't taken into account.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:11 PM  

  • Look at that nomination! Great writing, great blog!

    By Blogger Jaye Ramsey Sutter, at 5:55 PM  

  • Trying to reduce the debate down to progressive vs. conservative is a case of oversimplification.

    That's it right there! And so it goes for the accusations flying from left and right.

    MMFA's answer? In part, more "Writers from prominent progressive magazines" such as
    "Mother Jones."

    Brilliant! Wouldn't it be a lot more interesting if the political spectrum of the Sabbath Gasbags (Calvin Trillin's term) were wide enough to include the Utne Reader and the American Spectator as well as the milktoastian apologies of Tim Russert and Bob Schieffer?

    By Blogger O' Tim, at 11:01 PM  

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