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Friday, November 02, 2007

Harvard Finds The Media is Liberally Biased

Journalism: The debate is over. A consensus has been reached. On global warming? No, on how Democrats are favored on television, radio and in the newspapers.

For the naysayers that try to deny that the media is liberally biased... just because you deny it, doesn't mean it isn't true. Your denials say one thing..... you are as biased as the media has been shown to be, poll after poll, all from different organizations.

The latest... Harvard.

Just like so many reports before it, a joint survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy — hardly a bastion of conservative orthodoxy — found that in covering the current presidential race, the media are sympathetic to Democrats and hostile to Republicans.

Democrats are not only favored in the tone of the coverage. They get more coverage period. This is particularly evident on morning news shows, which "produced almost twice as many stories (51% to 27%) focused on Democratic candidates than on Republicans."

The most flagrant bias, however, was found in newspapers. In reviewing front-page coverage in 11 newspapers, the study found the tone positive in nearly six times as many stories about Democrats as it was negative.

Breaking it down by candidates, the survey found that Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the favorites. "Obama's front page coverage was 70% positive and 9% negative, and Clinton's was similarly 61% positive and 13% negative."

In stories about Republicans, on the other hand, the tone was positive in only a quarter of the stories; in four in 10 it was negative.

The study also discovered that newspaper stories "tended to be focused more on political matters and less on issues and ideas than the media overall. In all, 71% of newspaper stories concentrated on the 'game,' compared with 63% overall."

Television has a similar problem. Only 10% of TV stories were focused on issues, and here, too, Democrats get the better of it.

Reviewing 154 stories on evening network newscasts over the course of 109 weeknights, the survey found that Democrats were presented in a positive light more than twice as often as they were portrayed as negative. Positive tones for Republicans were detected in less than a fifth of stories while a negative tone was twice as common.

The gap between Democrats and Republicans narrows on cable TV, but it's there nonetheless. Stories about Democrats were positive in more than a third of the cases, while Republicans were portrayed favorably in fewer than 29%. Republican led in unfriendly stories 30.4% to 25.5%.

CNN was the most hostile toward Republicans, MSNBC, surprisingly, the most positive. MSNBC was also the most favorable toward Democrats (47.2%), Fox (36.8%) the most critical.

The anti-GOP attitude also lives on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." There, Democrats were approvingly covered more than a third as often as Republicans. Negative coverage of Democrats was a negligible 5.9%. It seemed to be reserved for Republicans, who were subject to one-fifth of the program's disparaging reports.

Even talk radio, generally considered a bastion of conservatism, has been relatively rough on the GOP. On conservative shows, Obama got more favorable treatment (27.8%) than Rudy Giuliani (25%). Sen. John McCain got a 50% favorability rating while Mitt Romney led the three GOP candidates with 66.7%.

The PEG-Shorenstein effort is only the latest to conclude that the mainstream media tilt left. Others include Stanley Rothman and Robert Lichter's groundbreaking 1986 book "The Media Elite"; "A Measure of Media Bias," a 2005 paper written by professors from UCLA and the University of Missouri; and Bernard Goldberg's two books, "Bias" and "Arrogance." All underscore the media's leftward leanings.

The media, of course, insist they are careful to keep personal opinions out of their coverage. But the facts tell another story — one that can't be edited or spiked.

No commentary needed. The numbers speak for themselves.

Deny it and prove your bias.