The so-called liberal media

The biggest newspaper in these parts is pretty regularly labeled as extreme-left (despite being owned by Hearst). But I've noticed something the past few months:

Every time there's any reporting on John Kerry's campaign, by the fifth or sixth paragraph there's always a "response" from some Bush or RNC flack. Always.

"OK," I thought, "they're making a point of providing balance."

Then I started reading the reports on Bush campaign speeches--and that's what they are, whether the taxpayers pay for them or not, when he's telling us what he's going to do the Next Four Years.

No "balance" quote. Nothing from the DNC or Kerry campaign.

Interesting behavior from the "liberal" media.


We all know where to go if you want fair and balanced. The Irish Independent, they attack everyone equally.

It really is unfair not to get a response from the Kerry camp. All newspapers have an agenda, although they may not admit it. I think it is well know that I am not a Kerry supporter, but it is only fair to see what his response would be.

I remember when there was controversey about putting Reagan movies on TV becausse of equal time rules. Newspapers should through journalistic integrity offer the other side, Bush or Kerry time and space to respond.

That is why I get both local newspapers at home, the leftist St. Petersburg Times and the slightly less leftist Tampa Tribune ( our local sanitation department does recycle newspaper or I would be up to my ears.) I love to read the newspapers. At ALA it was hard to keep me away from the> booth. When I win the lottery I am signing up for NewspaperDirect at home.

The "Librul Press" hysteria is commonly engaged in by Rush Limbaugh, who, in several rants, has proven himself to be a loud-mouthed ignoramus. The most blatant example of which was his flat-out wrong proclamation that the First Amendment was first for a reason (implying that the amendments are hierarchic in nature despite the Ninth Amendment clearly proclaiming otherwise), and that the founding fathers planned it that way. The First Amendment was known as Article the Third back in 1791, until the first two articles failed to pass and the third was ratified by the states. Anyway, here's something about the issue from a credible source:

While "liberal bias" has been alleged for many years, the accusation became a common place with the explosion of conservative talk radio in the early 1990s. Rush Limbaugh and other, less prominent radio hosts made allegations of press bias a mantra. The primary exhibits in the case for bias were surveys showing that a majority of reporters vote for Democratic presidential candidates, although other polls have shown reporters to be more liberal than the populace on social issues but more
conservative on economic issues. Actual evidence of media bias would of course have to be culled from the content of news. Scholarly attempts to identify bias have not borne out the conservative critique; a recent meta-analysis of fifty-nine academic studies found no bias in newspapers, and measurable but insignificant biases in news-magazines and television news (there were slightly more statements by Republicans in magazines and slightly more statements by Democrats on television).
Perceptions of media bias may be driven in part by assertions that the creature is real: The more discussion there is of media bias, the more people believe such a bias exists, reagardless of whether the news at a particular moment is more favorable to Democrats or Republicans.


In fact, many biases, most of them professonal, not political, shape the news. Reporters have a bias toward the use of official sources, a bias toward information that can be obtained quickly, a bias toward conflict, a bias toward focusing on discrete events rather than persistent conditions, and a bias toward the simple over the complex. These biases have a far greater role in determining the content of news than any political preferences a reporter might have.
--Kathleen Jamieson &
Paul Waldman, The Press Effect, pg 169/170

"Rush Limbaugh, who, in several rants, has proven himself to be a loud-mouthed ignoramus."

Do you know the difference between the Goodyear blimp and Rush Limbaugh?

Both are big bags of hot air, but one has a radio show.

How odd! I have been wanting to blog about balance in the media (but have also been wanting the time).

In short, I would agree that the question is more complex than simply "liberal bias", and Walt's example above is interesting and worth pursuing. Perhaps it is a matter of the particular reporter(s) covering the two campaigns.

I would be interested in Walt's, Michael's, Matthew's, and anyone else's reactions two these two blog postings on this very topic:

In fact, perhaps most apropos of Walt's post (I assume that it was the NYT you were talking about) is this> by Petrelis. Cui bono? I supposed we could claim that the media are being wonderfully impartial, despite their obvious personal political preferences.

Note that, according to Petrelis, "Rupert Murdoch donated $2,000 to Kerry's Senatorial campaign in 2001; and he gave Sen. Ted Kennedy $1,000 in 1999." Yes, that Rupert Murdoch.

"(I assume that it was the NYT you were talking about)"

What on earth would cause you to make that assumption? The fact that I live in Silicon Valley (as I've mentioned in other posts),which is--what, 2500 miles?--from New York? The fact that Hearst has 0% ownership of the NYT?

Since you ask: San Francisco Chronicle. But mostly wire reports, in these cases.

Right. Rupert Murdoch, that old Commie, has never given money to Republicans. I'm going to believe that based on those posts. Well, doing that would take 58.8 years off my age, since it would mean I was born yesterday. Has he covered his a*** by giving to both parties? I would expect no less of that old fox. Or Faux.

Well, that was stupid of me. Please forgive me for not reading your journal entry carefully enough. I do recall that you have said you live in California (though I wouldn't have remembered that it was Silicon Valley).

I suspect your are right (or perhaps "correct" is better :) about Murdoch. I don't see any reason to doubt his veracity.

As for the post by Michael Petrelis, I don't recall him saying that Murdoch had never given money to the Republicans. I think he was making a point about a particular election cycle.

For what it's worth, here are the political donations reported by PACs to the FEC (available via ftp at>)
for everyone I could identify as being employed by the San Francisco Chronicle from the 2000 election cycle till now, extracted from the raw data with the help of>:

Norr, Henry Mr.
San Fransisco [sic] Chronicle/Reporter




Perry, Alan Mr.

San Francisco Chronicle/truck drive





Schultz, Steve

SF Chronicle/QA Engineer




Pates, William G Mr.

San Francisco Chronicle/Editor





Best, Beverly

Sf Chronicle/Sales Manager Sfgate.C





Pates, William G

SF Chronicle/Journalist





Grimes, Amy

San Francisco Chronicle/Business De





Either those left-of-center employed at SFGate are much more likely to give to political causes than others, or the fact that SFGate is owned by Hearst isn't affecting their hiring policies. As I said before, I agree entirely that the political leanings of journalists and editors (which are I think without doubt to the left of what I consider the center) is not the sole determinant of media coverage. One can't simply explain the media by referring to a liberal bias. There's more to it than that. Nonetheless, I don't think the results will be very different when I load the FEC data into a database and do more systematic searches on 'journalist', 'editor', 'reporter' (not 'court'). To say that corporate interests have no effect on media coverage would be naive. It would also be naive to say that the overwhelmingly Democratic and Green personal political leanings of the media professionals doesn't also have an effect on the shape of our media.

Polls of news professionals self-report themselves as liberal if there is a selection of issues to choose from. Not left enough for you, but left of center for the rest of us. However, most reporters see themselves as "right" in the sense of "correct" and everyone else is "wacko." You have a real thing about Limbaugh. Must be your favorite program.

"To say that corporate interests have no effect on media coverage would be naive. It would also be naive to say that the overwhelmingly Democratic and Green personal political leanings of the media professionals doesn't also have an effect on the shape of our media."

Given that you include the first as well as the second statement--not surprising, ChuckB, but certainly appreciated--I don't disagree.

You wouldn't see Hearst donations in Chronicle searches of course. And there's no question that Hearst, when it purchased the Chron, chose to focus on trying to maintain and build a solid paper rather than pursuing its old political slants. The Hearst of today is, I believe, primarily interested in profit and stature. (That said, I'm still amazed to find myself reading, and enjoying, a Hearst paper. Times do change.)

Sure enough: There was another report on a Kerry speech this morning, this one sourced from the Washington Post--and, part way in, there was the "Bush campaign response" that seems obligatory for every Kerry statement, but whose counterpart seems rare for Bush campaigning. (Note: the source was the Post, not the Washington Times!)

I'm not sure who you're responding to here. If it's Fang-face, that's between you and him/her. If it's me, well,

1. I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh and have no real opinion of him. When I was aware of him, I thought he was a self-parody of an obnoxious blowhard, sort of a right-wing Michael Moore, but since I don't listen, I have no opinion. (Does that mean I think Michael Moore is an obnoxious blowhard? Yes, it does.)

2. I continue to be amazed at the ability of some people, mostly on the far right, to ascertain what everyone else is thinking. Your assertion that most reporters see "everyone else [as] 'wacko'" is one of those amazing generalizations...wholly unprovable and, in my experience, highly improbable. But since it's unprovable, it also can't be disproved.

3. You have no idea where I really stand politically. I suppose, though, that the fact I'm still listening and thinking about positions bars me from one big segment of today's political arena: I don't have my beliefs set in stone and carved on my walls.

Click on the link labeled "Parent" below nbruce's> to see who she is replying to. It is difficult to sort out sometimes in a mass of nested comments.