More on Media Bias

February 9, 2005 | 8 comments
By

The topic of media bias comes up regularly on Times & Seasons.

It was the focus of one of Matt’s recent posts. It was part of the discussion of my post on the elections in Iraq. Kaimi had an entire post devoted to the subject last summer. Now for some data: a London School of Economics Ph.D candidate, Riccardo Puglisi, has studied a dataset of news from the New York Times, from 1946 to 1994, and he found:

[T]he New York Times has a Democratic partisanship, with some watchdog aspects, in that during the presidential campaign it systematically gives more emphasis to Democratic topics, but only so when the incumbent President is a Republican. This set of Democratic topics comprises stories about civil rights, health care, labor and employment, and social welfare.

You can find his paper here.

If you have read this far, you might also be interested in this paper by John Lott and Kevin Hassett entitled “Is Newspaper Coverage of Economic Events Politically Biased?” Well, you probably already know the answer to that question, given the authors: “Our results suggest that American newspapers tend to give more positive news coverage to the same economic news when Democrats are in the Presidency than for Republicans.”

Of course, if you believe what Hugh Hewitt writes in his new book Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World, you won’t be worried because blogs are toppling old media anyway. (For my not-very-favorable take on Hewitt’s book, go here.)

Thanks to Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution for the paper tips.

8 Responses to More on Media Bias

  1. Jonathan Green on February 9, 2005 at 2:13 pm

    Gordon, is the NYT, over a time span reaching approximately from the early Paleolithic to shortly after the invention of the the transistor radio, really the most glaring example of media bias, or the most relevant to the present day?

  2. Kaimi on February 9, 2005 at 2:24 pm

    Color me skeptical. In particular, of the idea that “Democratic topics comprise[] stories about civil rights, health care, labor and employment, and social welfare.” Or from the paper’s SSRN abstract (at Gordon’s link), “topics that are owned by the Democratic party (civil rights, health care, labor and social welfare).”

    Is that really the case? I know of a lot of Republican politicians who would contest the idea that the Democrats own the topics of, inter alia, health care or civil rights.

  3. Gordon Smith on February 9, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    Kaimi, I had a same reaction to that paper.

    Jonathan, No.

  4. Adam Greenwood on February 9, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    “I know of a lot of Republican politicians who would contest the idea that the Democrats own the topics of, inter alia, health care or civil rights. ”

    A more relevant question would be whether the public at large contests the idea that these are Democratic issues. I bet they don’t.

  5. Jeremy on February 11, 2005 at 10:13 am

    I find it more than a little ironic that a comment I posted to this thread on media bias was removed. It wasn’t off topic, and I can’t imagine which part of the T&S comment policy it violated.

  6. Matt Evans on February 11, 2005 at 10:23 am

    Jeremy, your comment was not deleted. About a dozen comments from several threads were lost yesterday due to a technical glitch. If you have time to rewrite it, we would be glad to have it back.

  7. Jeremy on February 11, 2005 at 11:29 am

    And here I was working myself into a full-on conspiratorial fantasy. Thanks for ruining the fun, Matt. :)

    My comment simply noted the coincidence that shortly after Gordon had put up his post about media bias (and, secondarily, the influence of bloggers on media), a group of bloggers uncovered the Jeff Gannon story. It’s broken into the mainstream press now, so you can Googlenews it, but the short of it: bloggers got suspicious about this guy from “Talon News” who was asking overly friendly questions during press briefings and writing “articles” that had been cut and pasted almost entirely from White House press releases. They discovered that he somehow managed to get access to the WH press room under an assumed name (his real name is JD Guckert), and with no journalistic background (but extensive background as a GOP activist). Talon News turned out to be part of GOPUSA rather than an actual news outlet with editorial protocols. Also, while they were scrutinizing Mr. Guckert, they discovered that not only had he registered the domain name for jeffgannon.com, but his name was also listed as the domain owner for several gay pr0n sites.

  8. Steve on February 14, 2005 at 12:27 am

    Bologna-fest 2005. You talk to those who decry liberal bias and you’d think everything the NYT and CNN report is made up, when, as this study shows, it’s in what they choose to report that the bias is manifest (on both sides). This is all a tremendous joke as all those I know who have problems with the liberal bias don’t read or watch the traditionally “liberal” media organs. These folks who rant about the latest outrage printed by the New York or L.A. Times are just regurgitating what Bill O’Reilly said they wrote. Millions of Americans honestly believe this crap and think anything outside of Fox News et al. is printed by unpatriotic atheistic sodomites (or Jews). The most ridiculous thing is that in a country where the conservative agenda is ascendant, not just in government, but in broadcast media like Fox News (THE most watched news network), conservative talk radio and even conservative print media like the Washington Times, the conservatives still complain about the bias in media outlets which they DO NOT read or watch. If anything, the media has given up on serious investigative reporting in favor of feel-good stories and celebrity gossip and become the right’s obedient lap dog. For all the liberal disgust with what’s going on in America right now, you’d think the media would be a little more active. In relation to this, you can check out the Frank Rich New York Times story of Jan. 23, 2005: “On Television, Torture Takes a Holiday.” My message to the Right: shut up and listen to both sides. Hey, even I watch Fox News and listen to Hannity just for my daily dose of outrage.