Is media coverage of the election biased

Is media coverage of the election biased?

 

Is the media biased? The short answer is yes, but which way? Some say left, some say right, but I say the evidence of bias is clear and unmistakable.

Howard Kurtz, writing in the Washington Post in March, 2006, raised the question: “Do the hiring practices of big newspapers, magazines, networks and Web site tilt toward people of the liberal persuasion, thereby requiring hand-wringing about intellectual diversity?” Quoting David Mastio at Real Clear Politics, he answers his own question: “You’d think from all the fury that this was the first time big media had opened up the door for somebody with thin journalism credentials and a strong political point of view. Of course, you’d be wrong. They do it all the time and, usually they give the young politicos reporting jobs…The difference is that the beneficiaries are usually on the left and readers don’t get a hint that the MSM newbees might have a history…This is a literal conveyor belt from left-wing opinion journalism into straight news reporting and editing slots…That opportunity simply isn’t open to those on the right.”

 

A 2004 Pew Research study also produced the following findings, among others. At national organizations, including print, TV and radio, 34 percent of the journalists were liberal, 7 percent conservative, compared with the self-assessment of the public, which was 20 percent liberal, 33 percent conservative. About 60 percent of the general public said they felt it is necessary to believe in God to be a truly moral person. Fewer than 15 percent of those who worked at news outlets agreed. More than two-thirds felt the press had not been tough enough on President Bush, while half the conservatives felt the media has been too tough.

 

In November 2007, Investors Business Daily reported that a Harvard study by the Joan Shorenstein Center on The Press, Politics and Public Policy also found media bias is in favor of Democrats. That report said that “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 percent - 27 percent) focused on Democratic candidates than on Republicans.’” It also reported that “The most flagrant bias … was found in newspapers,” and that “breaking it down by candidates, the survey found that U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the favorites. ‘Obama’s front page coverage was 70 percent positive and 9 percent negative, and Clinton’s was similarly 61 percent positive and 13 percent negative.’”

 

The Shorenstein research was only one of a number of studies that identified the leftward tilt of the media. “Others include Stanley Rothman’s and Robert Lichter’s groundbreaking 1986 book, ‘The Media Elite: A Measure of Media Bias,’ a 2005 paper written by two university professors, and Bernard Goldberg’s two books, ‘Bias’ and ‘Arrogance.’”

Mark Silva’s post, “The Swamp,” on Aug. 1 noted: “As has been the case throughout the general election campaign, coverage of Obama outweighed that of Republican John McCain last week by a significant margin...” The Project for Excellence in Journalism reported that 81 percent of the stories “prominently featured the Illinois Senator, while 53 percent featured McCain. The media’s sustained focus on the Obama campaign has raised questions about press bias.” (www.swamppolitics.com/blog/2008/08).

 

The fact that the anchors for the three major networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, traveled with Obama on his recent overseas trip is cited as further evidence of media bias in his favor.

From my perspective, by and large, the media have been in the tank for Obama throughout the campaign and, given their normally leftward tilt, he has benefited far more from their coverage than has McCain.