Sunday, December 25, 2005

Study shows the so called "liberal media" uses the term "liberal bias" 96.5% of the time in relation to the word "media" and only uses the term "conservative bias" 3.5% of the time.*

* Percentages based on a total of 486 searches looking for the word "media" within seven words of either "liberal bias" or "conservative bias." 469 of those searches found the term "liberal bias" and only 17 of the searches found the term "conservative bias."( Geoffrey Nunberg conducted the study, I computed the percentages based on his numbers)

"I was struck by the fact that none of the critics took on the single most extraordinary result in the data I looked at -- this one involving, not labeling, but the way the press talks about the bias story itself. In the newspapers I looked at, the word "media" appears within seven words of "liberal bias" 469 times and within seven words of "conservative bias" just 17 times.

Now there's a difference that truly deserves to be called staggering. But how should we explain it? Certainly critics on the left haven't been silent about what they take to be conservative bias in the media, whether in the pages of political reviews or in dozens of recent books. But the press has given their charges virtually no attention, while giving huge play to complaints from the right about liberal bias. That's hardly what you'd expect from a press that really did have a decided liberal bias, and in fact the discrepancy is far greater than anything you could explain by supposing that reporters were merely bending over backwards to be fair -- in that case, after all, you'd expect them to give at least a polite nod to the other side, as well." - Label Whores, Take Two: A response to Bernard Goldberg, Brent Bozell, and others on media bias. By Geoffrey Nunberg

Think about this: In a 2003 Gallup poll, 45% of the public said the media is "too liberal" and 15% said the media is "too conservative." (36% said the news media are "about right.")

Compare the media's 96.5% to the 45% of the public opinion and the media's 3.5% to the 15% of the public opinion.

According to the study, 96.5% of the time, the media is using the term "liberal bias" in relation to the word "media" yet only 45% of the public thinks the media is "too liberal." And although 15% of the public thinks the media is "too conservative," the media is using the term "conservative bias" only 3.5% of the time.

Now if the media were actually liberally biased why are the results so skewed? The media is overwhelmingly using the term "liberal bias" at a rate above and beyond the general public's opinion and dramatically under using the term "conservative bias" compared to the percentage of the public that thinks there is a conservative bias. Is this the behavior of a "liberal media" or is it the behavior of a media selling the idea of a "liberal media" and downplaying the idea of a "conservative media"?

Geoffrey Nunberg wrote, "In newspaper articles published since 1992, the word "media" appears within seven words of "liberal bias" 469 times and within seven words of "conservative bias" just 17 times. If people are disposed to believe that the media have a liberal bias, it's because that's what the media have been telling them all along."

The Gallup poll conducted in February 2003 asked whether, “In general, do you think the news media are — too liberal, just about right, or too conservative?”

45% said "too liberal"
36% said "about right"
15% said "too conservative"
4% had no opinion

This is the same Gallup poll which Media Research Center (MRC) cites. Note that according to this poll, less than half of the public thinks the media is "too liberal," 45%. And note that the majority of people don't think the media is "too liberal," 51%, which is the 36% who said it is "about right" and 15% that said it is "too conservative." (4% had no opinion)

I think that the Gallup poll should have given as the second choice "no bias" instead of "just about right" to avoid any possible confusion with the word "right."

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