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Posted: 12/18/2005 1:47:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2005 1:48:34 PM EDT by raven]

Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist

Date: December 14, 2005
Contact: Meg Sullivan ( msullivan@support.ucla.edu )
Phone: 310-825-1046

While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co‑author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.

The results appear in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which will become available in mid-December.

Groseclose and Milyo based their research on a standard gauge of a lawmaker's support for liberal causes. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) tracks the percentage of times that each lawmaker votes on the liberal side of an issue. Based on these votes, the ADA assigns a numerical score to each lawmaker, where "100" is the most liberal and "0" is the most conservative. After adjustments to compensate for disproportionate representation that the Senate gives to low‑population states and the lack of representation for the District of Columbia, the average ADA score in Congress (50.1) was assumed to represent the political position of the average U.S. voter.

Groseclose and Milyo then directed 21 research assistants — most of them college students — to scour U.S. media coverage of the past 10 years. They tallied the number of times each media outlet referred to think tanks and policy groups, such as the left-leaning NAACP or the right-leaning Heritage Foundation.

Next, they did the same exercise with speeches of U.S. lawmakers. If a media outlet displayed a citation pattern similar to that of a lawmaker, then Groseclose and Milyo's method assigned both a similar ADA score.

"A media person would have never done this study," said Groseclose, a UCLA political science professor, whose research and teaching focuses on the U.S. Congress. "It takes a Congress scholar even to think of using ADA scores as a measure. And I don't think many media scholars would have considered comparing news stories to congressional speeches."

Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS' "Evening News," The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.

Only Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and The Washington Times scored right of the average U.S. voter.

The most centrist outlet proved to be the "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer." CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown" and ABC's "Good Morning America" were a close second and third.

"Our estimates for these outlets, we feel, give particular credibility to our efforts, as three of the four moderators for the 2004 presidential and vice-presidential debates came from these three news outlets — Jim Lehrer, Charlie Gibson and Gwen Ifill," Groseclose said. "If these newscasters weren't centrist, staffers for one of the campaign teams would have objected and insisted on other moderators."

The fourth most centrist outlet was "Special Report With Brit Hume" on Fox News, which often is cited by liberals as an egregious example of a right-wing outlet. While this news program proved to be right of center, the study found ABC's "World News Tonight" and NBC's "Nightly News" to be left of center. All three outlets were approximately equidistant from the center, the report found.

"If viewers spent an equal amount of time watching Fox's 'Special Report' as ABC's 'World News' and NBC's 'Nightly News,' then they would receive a nearly perfectly balanced version of the news," said Milyo, an associate professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

Five news outlets — "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," ABC's "Good Morning America," CNN's "NewsNight With Aaron Brown," Fox News' "Special Report With Brit Hume" and the Drudge Report — were in a statistical dead heat in the race for the most centrist news outlet. Of the print media, USA Today was the most centrist.

An additional feature of the study shows how each outlet compares in political orientation with actual lawmakers. The news pages of The Wall Street Journal scored a little to the left of the average American Democrat, as determined by the average ADA score of all Democrats in Congress (85 versus 84). With scores in the mid-70s, CBS' "Evening News" and The New York Times looked similar to Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., who has an ADA score of 74.

Most of the outlets were less liberal than Lieberman but more liberal than former Sen. John Breaux, D-La. Those media outlets included the Drudge Report, ABC's "World News Tonight," NBC's "Nightly News," USA Today, NBC's "Today Show," Time magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, NPR's "Morning Edition," CBS' "Early Show" and The Washington Post.

Since Groseclose and Milyo were more concerned with bias in news reporting than opinion pieces, which are designed to stake a political position, they omitted editorials and Op‑Eds from their tallies. This is one reason their study finds The Wall Street Journal more liberal than conventional wisdom asserts.

Another finding that contradicted conventional wisdom was that the Drudge Report was slightly left of center.

"One thing people should keep in mind is that our data for the Drudge Report was based almost entirely on the articles that the Drudge Report lists on other Web sites," said Groseclose. "Very little was based on the stories that Matt Drudge himself wrote. The fact that the Drudge Report appears left of center is merely a reflection of the overall bias of the media."

Yet another finding that contradicted conventional wisdom relates to National Public Radio, often cited by conservatives as an egregious example of a liberal news outlet. But according to the UCLA-University of Missouri study, it ranked eighth most liberal of the 20 that the study examined.

"By our estimate, NPR hardly differs from the average mainstream news outlet," Groseclose said. "Its score is approximately equal to those of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report and its score is slightly more conservative than The Washington Post's. If anything, government‑funded outlets in our sample have a slightly lower average ADA score (61), than the private outlets in our sample (62.8)."

The researchers took numerous steps to safeguard against bias — or the appearance of same — in the work, which took close to three years to complete. They went to great lengths to ensure that as many research assistants supported Democratic candidate Al Gore in the 2000 election as supported President George Bush. They also sought no outside funding, a rarity in scholarly research.

"No matter the results, we feared our findings would've been suspect if we'd received support from any group that could be perceived as right- or left-leaning, so we consciously decided to fund this project only with our own salaries and research funds that our own universities provided," Groseclose said.

The results break new ground.

"Past researchers have been able to say whether an outlet is conservative or liberal, but no one has ever compared media outlets to lawmakers," Groseclose said. "Our work gives a precise characterization of the bias and relates it to known commodity — politicians."

www.newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?RelNum=6664
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:53:51 PM EDT
Geez, that is a surprising revelation, the USA news media is left-leaning, I would've never guest it.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:54:33 PM EDT
Well....no fucking shit.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:54:50 PM EDT
No Shit
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:55:06 PM EDT
HOLY SHIT!
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:56:53 PM EDT
Bullshit!
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:57:04 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2005 1:57:42 PM EDT by Admiral_Crunch]
Very interesting read. I wonder how much exposue it'll get in the mainstream media. Probably somewhat less than one second.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:57:17 PM EDT
The great part is that the news media won't EVER make mention of this report.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:57:37 PM EDT
Say it ain't so! I would never have guessed it.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:58:40 PM EDT
Perish the thought
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 1:59:57 PM EDT

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study...


In another surprising finding, it was discovered that Michael Moore is a fat idiot.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:00:35 PM EDT
hmm.. imagine that.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:02:40 PM EDT
I can't believe it took that many words to say "99.9% of journalists are communist idiots".
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:07:46 PM EDT
All this time I thought it was just me.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:10:21 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:15:12 PM EDT
Wow them are some smart peoples.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:30:11 PM EDT
"Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist" might find himself out looking for a job after that study. UCLA doesn't "lean" to the left, it's more like the definition of left.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:30:26 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2005 2:33:39 PM EDT by XJ]
I supposed if people like the headline of the story it gets a pass on critical reading.


Their methodology, as described, is flawed. It might favor keyword searchs but it did not sound like they looked at context. If a particular newspaper repeated "PETA is always wrong" a hundred times, would they score as "liberal" simply because it mentioned PETA? And they use the liberal group ADA's judgement of what is liberal - if a lawmaker agrees with these kooks on 20 votes that they decide are most important. Here is an example ahem and their annual "who agrees with us" list don't break your monitor

WTF???


Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS' "Evening News," The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.



and this gem, which I edit to add sounds like they are trying to re-define mainstream according to what a bunch of liberals thinks it should be


By our estimate, NPR hardly differs from the average mainstream news outlet




ADA is America's oldest independent liberal lobbying organization.
ADA
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:32:39 PM EDT
They say Drudge leans left?

hmmmm...

Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:33:21 PM EDT
ya don't say
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:36:25 PM EDT
No shit Sherlock, can you solve another mystery for us?
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:38:34 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2005 2:43:00 PM EDT by djohns6]

Originally Posted By Red_Beard:
They say Drudge leans left?

hmmmm...




Since his site is mostly links to mainstream media outlets , that would make his numbers lean to the left .
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:48:39 PM EDT
DUH!
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:49:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2005 2:54:26 PM EDT by raven]

Originally Posted By XJ:
I supposed if people like the headline of the story it gets a pass on critical reading.


Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS' "Evening News," The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.




The WSJ regularly wins kudos from Leftists I talk to for its reporting, but they hate its editorial page with a passion. I've also read articles about the preponderance of people who vote Democrat in newsrooms, that it holds true for the WSJ and surprisingly enough, Fox News. The same article quoted WSJ reporters saying that working at the WSJ was like living in a house with the crazy aunt locked up in the attic (in reference to the right-wing editorial page).



and this gem, which I edit to add sounds like they are trying to re-define mainstream according to what a bunch of liberals thinks it should be


By our estimate, NPR hardly differs from the average mainstream news outlet




And I'd agree with that. NPR is usually pretty even-keeled. It's not often I catch them pushing liberal assumptions in their news unchallenged or being totally unfair in covering news and events, making it clear they have a political opinion on the matter. In fact I can only think of two instances in the last 3 years or so where such bias was just blatently over-the-top and obvious. Whereas I can get a daily dose of lazy, unfair, biased reporting from the nightly network news with little disappointment.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:49:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Redcap:
Well....no fucking shit.

That was what I was thinking when I read the topic.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 2:52:29 PM EDT
Really
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 3:07:55 PM EDT
...NO! It couldnt be......
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 5:09:33 PM EDT
Obvious, maybe, but now it's harder for them to deny it.

As for Drudge, it's not only that he links to a lot of mainstream media sources, but also that he seems to do so in order not because he agrees with them, but more to expose their BS.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 5:14:47 PM EDT
they lean so far that they are laying down with the left!!!
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 5:21:59 PM EDT
No!!! REALLY???
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 5:23:22 PM EDT
this just in.....



WATER IS WET!!!
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 5:29:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By raven:



And I'd agree with that. NPR is usually pretty even-keeled. It's not often I catch them pushing liberal assumptions in their news unchallenged or being totally unfair in covering news and events, making it clear they have a political opinion on the matter. In fact I can only think of two instances in the last 3 years or so where such bias was just blatently over-the-top and obvious. Whereas I can get a daily dose of lazy, unfair, biased reporting from the nightly network news with little disappointment.

I have to disagree with you on this part. What I have found is that they will insert one short blurb from the kookiest person they can possibly find, especially concerning gun control, and then spend the rest of the time presenting the opposing side in a positive manner. I never found one show they sponsored, like Diane Reems, Juan Williams and the like to speak of ANY conservative side with any amount of truthfullness or fair play.

The Gore/Bush Florida mess was the biggest fiasco I have EVER seen in the media. Absolute BS, outright lies and not even a modicum of attempt to be fair. Was very close to the same with Kerry/Bush and the Iraq war is no different.

I have no problem with their leftist slant BUT not on my dime. They are extremely far left of the middle. Moonbats the lot of them.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 8:40:43 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/18/2005 8:45:01 PM EDT by prk]

Originally Posted By fxntime:



Originally Posted By raven:
And I'd agree with that. NPR is usually pretty even-keeled. It's not often I catch them pushing liberal assumptions in their news unchallenged or being totally unfair in covering news and events, making it clear they have a political opinion on the matter. In fact I can only think of two instances in the last 3 years or so where such bias was just blatently over-the-top and obvious. Whereas I can get a daily dose of lazy, unfair, biased reporting from the nightly network news with little disappointment.




I have to disagree with you on this part. What I have found is that they will insert one short blurb from the kookiest person they can possibly find, especially concerning gun control, and then spend the rest of the time presenting the opposing side in a positive manner. I never found one show they sponsored, like Diane Reems, Juan Williams and the like to speak of ANY conservative side with any amount of truthfullness or fair play.

The Gore/Bush Florida mess was the biggest fiasco I have EVER seen in the media. Absolute BS, outright lies and not even a modicum of attempt to be fair. Was very close to the same with Kerry/Bush and the Iraq war is no different.

I have no problem with their leftist slant BUT not on my dime. They are extremely far left of the middle. Moonbats the lot of them.



Is that how you meant it?

I agree that they are 'way left. They try to disguise it with a non-hysterical, perfesser-like tone.
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 8:50:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Old_Painless:

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study...


In another surprising finding, it was discovered that Michael Moore is a fat idiot.



The HELL you say!

Link Posted: 12/18/2005 9:00:19 PM EDT

Originally Posted By arfreak74:
this just in.....



WATER IS WET!!!



Here ya go...
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 9:04:13 PM EDT
One question. with respect to left and right.. what/were is center?
Link Posted: 12/18/2005 9:06:49 PM EDT
B-b-b-ut NPR did its own study and it reported that they were overwhelmingly neutral and unbiased.
And they reported that without laughing.
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:06:16 PM EDT
Wow. And a UCLA professor figured it out. The world will really take notice when UC-Berkley figures it out (don't hold your breath for that one!).
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:10:38 PM EDT
I would love to see this on the CNN ticker at the bottom of the screen: "Study finds news media biased"
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 11:13:09 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Old_Painless:

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study...


In another surprising finding, it was discovered that Michael Moore is a fat idiot.



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