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July 04, 2004

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Jeff

This is why you should rightly be known as the most readable righty in the blogosphere. To add just a bit. The President and both houses of Congress are controlled by the GOP, giving them all bully pulpits in the house, not to mention lawmaking trump. Thus, when they introduce legislation (or propose, in the case of Bush), hapless Dems must mount their usual futile defense. What do they rely on? Sources produced by leftists. Therefore, the GOP are talking about legislation, Dems about findings from Brookings. The papers report it out and...voila! according to this methodology, they're liberal.

In the 80s, when legislation was introduced and dominated by a Democratic Congress, the GOP used right wing think tanks as evidence against the lawmaking majority. Papers reporting the happenings of Congress would therefore be called conservative?

I go back to my old saw (repeated in your earlier posts): quantifying a subjective quality like "liberalness" is damn near impossible. (Besides which, isn't it far more fun for the right to have their "liberal media" and the left their "corporate media?" That way we're all unhappy.)

TM

That way we're all unhappy.

LOL. Through my tears, of course...

susanna

Excellent job, Tom. But then, you always do an excellent job. I wish the average journalist - of any or no ideological stripe - had your ability to think critically about research. I'm coming more and more to think that the poor quality of media coverage is due more to laziness and entertainment/deadline imperatives than about ideology. Some of it is ideology, and I join you in thinking the general swing of media is liberal. But I could control for the liberal part in my readings if I could at least have some confidence the media were usually correct in at least the facts or intent of what they cover. Apparently even that is too much to ask.

Steve

Your example doesn't get the methodology of the study right. The study ignores citations in media sources that are contained in quotes from lawmakers. So in your example EPI and Heritage are counted as having ZERO "mentions" since all the newspaper "mentions" in your example are in quotes from lawmakers. The study also ignores citations that include ideological labels such as "the liberal EPI says..." or "the conservative Heritage Foundation says..." The goal is to get only citations that the paper itself is making where and treating as an authoritative and presumably unbiased source. This is then compared to citations by lawmakers who have have a voting record that can be used to determine their place on the ideological spectrum.

Jason

Steve -

The point is still valid, however. Given that, at the moment, the conservatives control the bully pulpits, it is therefore more likely that any given quote from a conservative politician will be balanced by a liberal expert authority than it is for a quote from a liberal politician to be balanced by a conservative expert authority.

The reason for this is simple; so long as the conservatives control the bully pulpits, quotes from conservative politicians are less likely to be ignored (ie, they are more newsworthy) than quotes from liberal politicians, and therefore the tendency will be stronger for "Fair and Balanced" to use quotes from conservative politicians than from conservative expert authorities.

Mandrake Ethos

Perhaps I'm confused in several ways...

This is my understanding of the study...

Law makers are ranked on their political leanings... (Both the ACU and ADA do this based on how those politicians vote).

Think tanks are ranked on their political leanings based on how often they are favorably cited by law makers.

News organs are ranked on their political leanings based on how often they directly cite think tanks (ignoring citations that appear in quotations).

I was under the impression that, in the study, the mention of lawmakers pertains only to the methodology for evaluating the political leanings of the think tanks, not directly to how the political leanings of news organs are evaluated. (This is why the ACLU comes out looking slightly conservative in some measures, because at the time of the study, the debate was under way about McCain-Feingold, and you had a lot of conservative lawmakers citing the ACLU as a think tank).

--ME

John Moore

Mandrake Ethos is correct as far as I know. The study uses lawmakes to calibrate the think tanks, and then uses that calibrated value to score the think tank references of media.

In a sense, all of this is pretty silly. The national media is strongly biased against Bush, as has been shown by their behavior. Anyone with a careful eye on events can watch the national media repeatedly transform statements by a Bushie into different statements, and then accuse the Bush administration of lying by saying what they never said. An example is "Iraq is an imminent threat" (never said) or that "Iraq was trying to buy uranium from Niger" (never said, but interestingly, it turns out to be true).

Anyone can count the number of New York Times front page stories on Abu Ghraib (28 days in a row, total of 60 stories - as of a f4ew weeks ago) and recognize and obvious attempt to make that relatively minor incident into the biggest symbol of the war. Ironically, because of this, the Vietnam News Agency (approximatley as reliable as the Time) decided to play along, and attacked US handling of prisoners, citing by name John Kerry that we committed atrocities all the time.

As a former Naval Aviator, I went through more humiliation than those Abu Ghraib prisoner in boot camp, and didn't terrorize anyone to get there. I went through real torture in SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) school, something those people are not facing. But at Abu Ghraib, 7 members of a poorly led National Guard Unit are the war, as far as the media is concerned.

So while the study methodology is interesting and clever, and of course somewhat flawed, who is it that needs a study to tell them that the news media is biased?

75% of American simply do not believe the news. In other words, they've already decided that news coverage is crap. They don't need a study to tell them.

I watched this year as the media completely ignored Kerry's cover-up of his cover-up of his military status at the time of his anti-war activities. His biography concealed the fact that he was in the regular Naval Reserves during his anti-war times. When his military records were published, the biography suddenly lost all dates.

The Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth ( see wintersoldier.com>) put on a truly historic press conference, in which all of Kerry's commanders in Vietnam, and the chain of command through CINCPAC got together (30+ years later) and presented a letter calling Kerry unfit to command/ 200 other Swift Boat sailors also signed the letter. How many readers remember hearing about that historic event? If you did see the coverage, the chances are that it left out factors and uncritically reported the Kerry spin that these people were all members of "the Republican Attack Machine" - never mind that some were Democrats. If you watched it on CBS, you saw a smear job that Joseph McCarthy would have envied.

How many people know that many of us who are Vietnam Veterans are vehemently opposed to Lerry? How many know that fhe former commander of all swift boats, Admiral Hoffnamn, called him a traitor last week, and a POW, also a fromer Senator (Jeremiah Denton), used equivalent language against him?

The media has a narrative it wants you to know. Kerry was a war hero and Vietnam Vets adore him - just look at the ones campaigning with him. Furthermore, in that narrative he was, incidently, anti-war for a while.

In the real world, he was viciously anti-war, which is why so many of us despise him. He told all sorts of terrible lies, after coordinating with the enemy, once for sure and probably twice. Those lies make all of us out to be butchers and crazed, and paint America with a brush of brutality that is not at all deserved, but is believed to this day. Kerry's organization also coordinated their propaganda with the enemy, sending a representative to Hanoi.

Don't expect to hear much about this from the "Anybody But Bush" media.

If you are curious about the real facts on Kerry, check out wintersoldier.com. If you're a Vietnam Vet, also check out Vietnam Vets for the Truth.

MattJ

The point is still valid, however. Given that, at the moment, the conservatives control the bully pulpits,

It seems obvious to me that we should consider what was true during the study period, ('93-'02) not what is true at the moment.

TM

It seems obvious to me that we should consider what was true during the study period, ('93-'02) not what is true at the moment.

That was the study period for Congressional cites, and was used to calculate scores for think tanks. The study period for media cites varied. E.g., the NY Times was studied from 7/01 to 5/02; the LA Times from 6/02 to 12/02.

I feel like I ought to respond to Steve's point. I am sure my simplified parable of how the study was conducted is not literally accurate - my point was that "Fair and Balanced" will present both viewpoints, and cite supporting authority for both viewpoints. There are many ways the supporting authority for the two sides can be worked into a story other than the very simplified method I presented. But if, for the time period covering the NY Times, the Bush side is often addressed by a Government study and rebutted bt a think tank study, the Times will score as tilted left.

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