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Lies, Damned Lies, and Journalism ^ | July 17, 2002 | Larry Schweikart

Posted on 07/17/2002 4:33:11 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl

Lies, Damned Lies, and Journalism
By Larry Schweikart | July 17, 2002

In the 1970s or 1980s, a typical exchange over liberal media bias went something like this:

CONSERVATIVE: "The media is biased."

JOURNALIST: "No, it's not."

CONSERVATIVE: "Yes, it is."

While conservatives could cite anecdotal evidence as to liberal bias in the media, journalism's defenders always replied that such examples did not mean anything There was, as Clinton lawyer Lanny Davis used to say, "no pwoof."

In the 1980s, this began to change, albeit slowly. A few surveys---often done by the Media Research Center (MRC)---provided some astounding numbers, such as the fact that when 52% of the voters selected Nixon in 1972, 81% of the media voted for George McGovern. A 1980 MRC survey of hundreds of editors, broadcasters, and publishers found that only 8% of the media elites attended church or synagogue regularly---compared to more than half of the American public---and that some 86% seldom or never attended church services.

Typically, the MRC studies were dismissed by liberals as "unscientific" or "predictable" or as coming from a "right-wing think tank." But as polling became more common, it was only a matter of time before journalists themselves were polled. The results revealed the self-identification of media elites, if not their behavior. For example, a 1996 Roper Poll of journalists found that only 9% defined themselves as conservative or "moderate-to-conservative," while 61% called themselves liberal or "liberal-to-moderate."

The next fallback position was, "Well, journalists have definite views, but their liberal slant is not reflected in their reporting." Oh really?

Technology is a wonderful thing, and the rise of information retrieval systems, such as LEXIS-NEXIS, have provided a new way to examine the claim that journalists don't "let their liberalism affect their reporting." Computer-based search engines permit "content-analysis" searches for key words or phrases in conjunction with other words and phrases. Journalists' own use of "loaded" terms or their systematic application of labels suddenly could be brought to light. No longer could they hide behind the facade of probabilities "Sure, I wrote that, but how was I to know that Mr. X would also use the same phrase"

So far, the results don't look good for those who claim the media is "fair" and "balanced."

Eron Shosteck, in an April 27th, 2000 column ("Pencil Necks") for the National Journal, conducted an extensive LEXIS-NEXIS database on political terminology in journalism. Shosteck found the term "partisan Republican" appeared 85 times in a 90-day period, whereas "partisan Democrat" only appeared 58 times in the same three-month span, whereas "partisan Democrat" only appeared 58 times in the same three-month span. The term "hard right" (used 683 times) and "far right" (267) appeared more than twice as often as "hard left" (312) or "far left" (130). Worse, when searching for references to "extreme right," the database search collapsed because it exceeded 1000 citations, whereas a search for "extreme left" only produced 58 citations.

But journalists did not need the labels "right" and "left" to portray someone they disliked in a bad light. Take the last presidential campaign, for example. The Democrats attempted to tar George W. Bush with his support of the death penalty, and in June 2000, Washington Post columnist Michael Kelly Michael reported a NEXIS search of stories that mentioned "George W. Bush" at least three times and "death penalty" at least three times netted more than five hundred hits for a single week!

What about "bigotry?" A NEXIS search for bias in another area---a candidate's willingness to tolerate "bigotry"---revealed that George Bush's visit to Bob Jones University (supposedly an anti-Catholic school) received more than 884 hits on a Nexis search, but Al Gore's visit to meet with Al Sharpton, a race-baiting demagogue from New York, netted only 323 hits.

A more detailed study, of the use of language by "the elite press of the nation" (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post), covering an astounding 1500 articles from January 1, 1990 to July 15, 1998, contrasted coverage of the National Rifle Association with Handgun Control, Inc., the NAACP, the ACLU, and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Among the instances of media bias documented by the study were subtle uses of pejorative labels for the NRA, such as "rich and paranoid," loaded verbs of attribution ("claims" or "contends" rather than "said"), and adjectives to discredit sources. He also found that NRA officials were quoted less often than officials in the other organizations in the study; that flattering "feature" stories appeared on Sarah Brady, but never pro-gun advocates, such as NRA President Charleton Heston; and that the press was more likely to write a story solely on a press release or press conference of the AARP, Handgun Control, or the NAACP than the NRA. The author of the study, Brian Patrick of the University of Michigan concluded that the "data supports a conclusion of systematic marginalization of the NRA in the elite newspaper coverage as compared with other interest groups."

Technology has also allowed content analysis studies of issues covered by the mainstream television news. The results reveal blatant leftward bias. For example, guests on morning and evening news-talk shows are more likely to represent a pro-gun-control position by a ratio of 5:1 to 10:1 over anti-gun-control guests. During the debate over the "Brady bill," a gun registration bill, analysis of networks pro- and anti-Brady bill coverage by the Media Research Institute found that 59% of the network reports were "anti-gun" and that only 4% could be considered "pro-gun," and that spokesmen in favor of the Brady Bill outnumbered people opposing the bill on the four major news networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN) by a ratio of three to one.

One reason journalists report with a liberal bias is that they can't help it---it's who they are. Peter Brown, the editor at the Orlando Sentinel, conducted a survey using a professional pollster sent to reporters in five mid-size cities in the U.S., plus the large metro area of Dallas-Ft. Worth. Brown and pollster Bill Hamilton of Bethesda devised two separate surveys. One used 500 residents and 478 journalists in five cities, Dayton, Ohio; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Syracuse, New York; Roanoke, Virginia; and Chico/Redding, California; while the other survey used a massive (by polling standards) database of 3400 home addresses of journalists in 13 news organizations, including the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Washington Post, the Denver Rocky Mountain News, and many other large- to mid-city papers. In the first survey, the pollster phoned residents in those areas at random and asked the same questions posed to the reporters.

Responses to the Brown survey revealed a shocking disparity in lifestyles. Journalists were

more likely to live in upscale neighborhoods, have maids, own Mercedes and trade stocks, and less likely to go to church, do volunteer work or put down roots in a community. Taken together, though, the profile revealed a class of people far outside the lifestyles of "average" Americans: journalists lived in communities where residents "are twice as likely as others to rent foreign movies, drink Chablis, own an espresso maker and read magazine such as Architectural Digest and Food & Wine." Journalists had fewer children (or, more often, none) and lived in expensive urban neighborhoods, but eschewed rural areas, auto races, bowling, whiskey, Wheaties, yard sales, coupons, or Chevrolets. With this patchwork of shared elite values, "advocacy of elite interests comes so easily that it scarcely seems like bias at all," said one media observer.

Journalists are paid substantially more than the American average (42% of journalists earning $50,000 or more, compared to 18% of the public); were almost twice as likely to support abortion (82% to 49%, according to a separate Los Angeles Times survey); and were far less likely to support prayer in schools or attend church. Most important, while the media elites lived more like the rich than they did "average Americans," they nevertheless held a deep-seated hostility to capitalism and conservatism.

Brown's research got to the nub of the old journalism counter to the notion that the there was a "left-wing conspiracy" in the media. Editors and publishers indignantly denied such an allegation, usually, in the process, making the accuser look like a kook. But Brown showed that such clandestine meetings did not need to occur for every daily paper to run almost identical articles with a similar slant on the issues: the journalists operated out of a "conspiracy of shared values"---essentially, the media elites lived so differently from average Americans that it never crossed their minds that they were biased.

Naturally, then, journalists tended to downplay what "ordinary" Americans deem important. Religion, for example, is virtually ignored by the mainstream media's news outlets. One study found that between 1993 and 1996, of 176,000 reports on the major networks' prime news shows, about one percent touched on religion, and in 1996 the television networks all completely ignored the 12 most important religious news stories of the year

By the 1990s, readers had become suspicious of the print media. A national poll taken by Editor and Publisher Magazine showed that 44% of regular readers of newspapers thought that the paper they read "has favored one candidate over the other in their news coverage" and that 2/3ds of those who thought that bias existed thought that the Democratic candidate was favored by this slant. (Perhaps that explains why newspaper circulation has fallen: as of 1998, the New York Times, Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, Arizona Republic, Boston Globe, and even the Wall Street Journal had all seen circulation fall by about .02 to 1.3%).

Some publishers may have dismissed diminishing circulation, but a better indicator that journalists were concerned could be seen in April 2000, when the American Society of Newspaper Editors embarked on its "Journalism Credibility Project." This internal review sought to answer the question "Why do so many Americans distrust what they read in newspapers?" Although panels met and "experts" debated various theories, few got to the essence of the problem. Stuart Garner, CEO of Thomson Newspapers, Inc., lamented that newspapers no longer were "useful" to people: reporters took "ego trips" and he observed that too many reporters "want to save the world, whether the world wants to be saved or not."

In 1976, less than 30% of all Americans had a "great deal of confidence" in the press. By 1983, that number had dropped to a pathetic 13%. A Gallup organization poll in 2000 ranking the top ten confidence-inspiring institutions had "newspapers" and "TV news" coming in at #9 and #10, respectively (the military was #1 and church was #2).

Television news also felt the pressure of FOX News and the Internet: from 24% of the sets in use tuning in to CBS News in 1985, by 2000 that percentage had been cut almost in half. Likewise, ABC, which had 21% of the viewers in 1985, had just 16% fifteen years later, and NBC had dropped from 21% to 16%. Executives had to admit that indeed their market had been shrinking: ABC producer Phyllis McGrady said as early as 1997 the numbers "were really dropping . . . At first I thought it was just sort of a blip. Then I realized it was more than a blip."

Bernard Goldberg's recent bestseller, Bias, opened a few eyes regarding bias in the press. But journalists could (and did) deflect its main criticisms easily enough by contending Goldberg's evidence was anecdotal, hearsay, or even fabricated. While "insider" books can make an important contribution, they are, ultimately, subject to the charge of letting a few experiences shape their own (tilted) reporting.

The good news is that there is now hard data out there, and lots of it. Content-based LEXIS-NEXIS searches and sociological studies such as Brown's have established the liberal bias of the mainstream news organizations without a doubt. Apparently, the readers and viewers have some bias of their own---for truth, fact, and accuracy---when it comes to getting their news.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bias; dncpr; evenmorebias; extremeleft; farleft; leftist; liberal; mediabias; propaganda
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1 posted on 07/17/2002 4:33:11 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
I love it when you talk dirty about the media ; )


2 posted on 07/17/2002 4:46:08 PM PDT by ForGod'sSake
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
To many journalists behave more like activists then they do journalists.
3 posted on 07/17/2002 4:53:25 PM PDT by MsLady
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To: ForGod'sSake
4 posted on 07/17/2002 4:53:50 PM PDT by MsLady
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

This internal review sought to answer the question “Why do so many Americans distrust what they read in newspapers?” Although panels met and “experts” debated various theories, few got to the essence of the problem.

Journalists claim to be on a search for the truth, yet we print the obvious lies of political spokesmen every day. Watch any of the Sunday talk shows and you will see all the political hacks offering up the party line unchallenged by the talking heads who host these vehicles of misinformation. THE RANT A disposable commodity called truth

Mainstream media reporters and journalist are too lazy to put forth the effort. They choose to open doors wherever possible and keep them open. The very people the media should be reporting as crooks, criminals and scoundrels are the ones they praise.

What a colossal hoax it is. For of course the interviewee -- the bigger the better to which politicians and bureaucrats are among the biggest with academics and "specialists" bought by the media mantra of open all doors coming in right behind -- those people (hidden crooks) being interviewed would never open the door if he or she knew that the reporter intended to expose them as frauds.

Put rhetorically: Do you really think a politician or bureaucrat would welcome an interview conducted by a reporter or journalist knowing that he or she was going to expose their participation in government fraud? Do you think mainstream reporters and journalists would expose the politicians and bureaucrats for their frauds knowing that they'd be shutting the door to any future interviews with that politician or bureaucrat and his cronies?

Conversely, there's a large and growing cadre of articulate, well-thought-out writers on the WWW. They are the opposite of the lazy reporters that rely on the easy-to-open doors of covering for crooks. In essence, they are unreal easy-open doors that can slam back shut in their face.

For the articulate writers on the Web, their open doors are among themselves, and their readers. Their essence is that they have to honestly earn an open door policy with their interviewees and they welcome their readers feedback. Often looking for other articulate writers of integrity and honesty among the feedback they get from readers.

That the mainstream media is liberal biased is not a reflection of congress or the alphabet bureaucracies. It is with both Republicans and Democrats that the government is what it is. The whole good-guy-bad-guy betwixt political parties is a ruse. For voting for the lesser of evils still begets evil.

As Mr. Brown used to jokingly ask us neighborhood kids, "Do you want a fat lip or a busted eyebrow?" That was not lost on me. From Democrats you get one, from Republicans you get the other. There are no winners and losers in politics for they (reps and dems) are two sides of the same coin. The only losers are the citizens, their prosperity and well-being which is mostly represented by the business community. The only winners are parasitical politicians and self-serving bureaucrats. ...Hot on their heels the mainstream media and academics catering to government crooks.

What reporters and journalists never tell their audience
 about crooks, criminals and frauds in government.

The Genie is Out of the Bottle

"They [government] demand strict accounting regulations to prevent billion dollar business frauds while they evade responsibility for a trillion-dollar government fraud," he added. Social Security Called A Bigger Fraud Than Corporate Scandals

He said it's ironic that no one in Washington is demanding an end to Social Security. Social Security Called A Bigger Fraud Than Corporate Scandals

It's only ironic if the person thinks the government has high standards of ethics, integrity and honesty. Or, ironic because that's the image they want people to perceive. That's where the mainstream media and academia join the party -- a government party. Honest, hard-working citizens need not apply.

Congress has created so many laws that virtually every person is assured of breaking more than just traffic laws. Surely with all this supposed lawlessness people and society should have long ago run head long into destruction. But it has not.

Instead, people and society have progressively prospered. Doing so despite politicians creating on average, 3,000 new laws each year which self-serving alphabet-agency bureaucrats implement/utilize to justify their usurped power and unearned paychecks. They both proclaim from on high -- with complicit endorsement from the media and academia -- that all those laws are "must-have" laws to thwart people and society from running headlong into self-destruction.

Again, despite not having this year's 3,000 must-have laws people and society increased prosperity for years and decades prior. How can it be that suddenly the people and the society they form has managed to be so prosperous for so long but suddenly they will run such great risk of destroying their self-created prosperity?

The government is the all time champion of cooking the books and it has the gall to point fingers at the whole business community because of a few bad apples. The entire business community and employees that support it should stand tall against a government feigning to protect the little guy from organizations that cook their books.

If there was ever a prime example of the fox guarding the hen house it is the government claiming to protect the little guy from organizations that cook their books. President Bush will have to militarily smash down terrorism. For that is his job. It's not the President's, congress' or the government's job to manipulate the economy.

The business community with their employees will have to stand tall against the PC-status-quo fox -- self-proclaimed authorities claiming/feigning they'll use the government to protect the little guy and a complicit media and academia that supports them; for they are all the fox -- to regain their rightful place as the champions of honest business that has always increased the well-being of people.

The government, having already manipulated the economy to almost no-end, President Bush can play the unbeatable five-ace hand of replacing the threat-of-force IRS and graduated income tax with a don't-pay-the-tax-if-you-don't-want-to consumption tax. For example, implement the proposed national retail sales tax (NRST). Not only would that win votes for Bush and republicans in congress it would boom the economy.

Where will it lead?

War of Two Worlds
Value Creators versus Value Destroyers

Politics is not the solution. It's the problem!

The first thing civilization must have is business/science. It's what the family needs so that its members can live creative, productive, happy lives. Business/science can survive, even thrive without government/bureaucracy.

Government/bureaucracy cannot survive without business/science. In general, business/science and family is the host and government/bureaucracy is a parasite.

Aside from that, keep valid government services that protect individual rights and property. Military defense, FBI, CIA, police and courts. With the rest of government striped away those few valid services would be several fold more efficient and effective than they are today. 

Underwriters Laboratory is a private sector business that has to compete in a capitalist market. Underwriters laboratory is a good example of success where government fails.

Any government agency that is a value to the people and society -- which there are but a few -- could better serve the people by being in the private sector where competition demands maximum performance.

Wake up! They are the parasites. We are the host. We don't need them. They need us.

* * *

After all, in calling for the resignation of Securities and Exchange Commissioner Harvey Pitt, McCain declares, “Government’s demands for corporate accountability are only credible if government executives are held accountable as well." Does that mean U.S. senators? Congress, Accounting, and the Free Market (McCain is grandstanding again)

"Too often, we have cooked the books, exploited off-balance sheet accounting, fudged budget numbers and failed to disclose fully the nation's assets and liabilities. If we in Washington are to have credibility in the public eye as we address the corporate accounting mess, we must reform our own fiscal practices," said McCain. Social Security Called A Bigger Fraud Than Corporate Scandals

Prove it first. It's not like it's a new discovery or problem. It's a seventy-year-old problem. It's just that now politicians and bureaucrats have trapped themselves and the general public is becoming increasingly aware. They've been caught and McCain is getting interview time to peddle gussied-up compassionate government.

"Allowing Americans to invest responsibly a small part of their payroll taxes will not only save Social Security, but will provide them with greater retirement income than those who no or will soon depend on Social Security checks," said McCain. Social Security Called A Bigger Fraud Than Corporate Scandals

Notice McCain so readily self-proclaims himself and government the authority to allow Americans to invest part of their own money. But he has a condition; it most be done responsibly. And who decides what is responsible? Certainly not the all-time champion, cook-the-books bureaucrats and snake-oil-salesmen politicians.

They -- self-proclaimed authorities -- are running citizens and society headlong into destruction.

5 posted on 07/17/2002 5:01:31 PM PDT by Zon
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: ForGod'sSake
Oooh....that's too easy. (^:

... according to a compilation of recent opinion surveys of "journalists,"

86% don't attend a place of worship,
90% support the "choice" of killing of unborn children,
75% support homosexuality,
53% approve of adultery,
80% support so-called "affirmative action" programs,
56% believe the U.S. exploits "third world" countries,
80% have never voted for a Republican president –
yet only 54% identify themselves as left-of-center.
Go figure!

[reported in the 18 May 2001 Federalist

7 posted on 07/17/2002 5:02:47 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: Zon
Tom Delay was on the radio down here in Houston last Friday. He said that the Republicans are blue in their collective faces trying to get stories like this out to the public. The Washington press corp refuses to publish one wit about such things like this story exposing Terry McAuliffe.

It's the press, the lying, stinking, dirty, no good, blinkity-blank press. (Lucianne poster-July '02)

8 posted on 07/17/2002 5:09:18 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl

Now if only somebody would report this!
9 posted on 07/17/2002 5:10:57 PM PDT by terilyn
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
...yet only 54% identify themselves as left-of-center.

Go figure!

Denial is not a river in Egypt????????


10 posted on 07/17/2002 5:13:33 PM PDT by ForGod'sSake
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To: terilyn
Now if only somebody would report this!

FWIW, a link to this ( and many other stories here ) went winging into cyberspace in a mass email to the usual suspects-- letters to editors and "opinionators." It also appeared in the last update of DUBOB 9-- those stories the media doesn't like to talk about, for fear you will ask them rude questions.

11 posted on 07/17/2002 5:18:27 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: backhoe
...for fear you will ask them rude questions.

Ah yes indeedy. The unwashed can be so uncouth sometimes. The cheekiness of actually wanting unblemished news. tsk, tsk


BTW, more kudos on your DUBOB efforts.

12 posted on 07/17/2002 5:24:31 PM PDT by ForGod'sSake
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Nixon got 62% in '72.
13 posted on 07/17/2002 5:24:41 PM PDT by Kermit
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To: ForGod'sSake
I love it when you talk dirty about the media ; )

Hey, that's my line.;^)

14 posted on 07/17/2002 5:33:18 PM PDT by Kermit
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To: backhoe
Terrific! Good for you!!!
15 posted on 07/17/2002 5:36:38 PM PDT by terilyn
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To: terilyn; ForGod'sSake
Howdy to both of you, and thanks... I have to run, and put the house to bed- back in the AM hours...
16 posted on 07/17/2002 5:42:31 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
It's the press, the lying, stinking, dirty, no good, blinkity-blank press.

Ohhhhhhh!!!!!! YES, YES, YES!!!

FGS ; )

17 posted on 07/17/2002 5:51:17 PM PDT by ForGod'sSake
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To: Ragtime Cowgirl
Journalists were more likely to live in upscale neighborhoods, have maids, own Mercedes and trade stocks...

I don't get it. I was under the impression that most journalists were very poorly paid. How do they afford to live in the style reported above?

18 posted on 07/17/2002 5:54:58 PM PDT by Henrietta
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To: Kermit
Hey, that's my line.



19 posted on 07/17/2002 5:57:07 PM PDT by ForGod'sSake
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To: Henrietta
How do they afford to live in the style reported above?

Good question. I think that there's some confusion between news and entertainment. Americans like their celebrities. What was Katie Couric's new salary? Hmmm...perhaps 17 Senate Committee hearings are in order. (^:

20 posted on 07/17/2002 6:07:23 PM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
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