September 08, 2008

Liberal bias in the media? Oh, pish...

Listening to McThuselah rage about the liberal bias in the media got me thinking that it might be a good idea to actually analyze this supposed media bias and find out if he was whining about something real or just whining.

According to the LATimes, someone beat me to it.

Haters of the mainstream media reheated a bit of conventional wisdom last week.

Barack Obama, they said, was getting a free ride from those insufferable liberals.

Such pronouncements, sorry to say, tend to be wrong since they describe a monolithic media that no longer exists. Information today cascades from countless outlets and channels, from the Huffington Post to Politico.com to CBS News and beyond.

But now there's additional evidence that casts doubt on the bias claims aimed -- with particular venom -- at three broadcast networks.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.

So that covers the broadcast folks... what of the other anklebiters like Fox News?

By the way, Lichter's group also surveys the first half-hour of "Special Report With Brit Hume," Fox News' answer to the network evening news shows.

The review found that, since the start of the general-election campaign, "Special Report" offered more opinions on the two candidates than all three networks combined.

No surprise there. Previous research has shown Fox News to be opinion-heavy.

"Special Report" was tougher than the networks on Obama -- with 79% of the statements about the Democrat negative, compared with 61% negative on McCain.

There's plenty of room for questioning the networks' performance and watching closely for symptoms of Obamamania.

But could we at least remain focused on what ABC, NBC and CBS actually put on the air, rather than illusions that their critics create to puff themselves up?

Now, would someone tell Ted Baxter to quit whining before 'the folks' decide to spit on him?

Posted by mcblogger at September 8, 2008 09:38 AM

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