Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Midwest Product's Polite Disagreement

I find polite disagreement on the blogosphere so exciting that I honored it with its own post. "Midwest Product" commented on my recent post about the Center. I don't answer all the objections, because that doesn't seem very conversational. I think I hit the main point.

I am grateful to learn that belief in a left-leaning MSM is now the CW.

It is of course only fair that I identify symptoms before diagnosing a disease. I gave no that the MSM leans liberal, then proceeded to explain why that might be. It’s a bit of shorthand. I have covered evidence for it in earlier posts, and did not attempt a proof of the idea here. I had this UCLA study in my first draft, but I’ve been trying to edit for length after the overlong piece on the religious left a few days ago.

For single instances of bias evidence, go here and here.

For more in depth cataloging of bias, there is, again, the Media Research Center, Accuracy in Media, and Center for Media and Public Affairs, each of which links to other sites.

There are also the books by Bernard Goldberg and Bob Kohn.

The main books taking the opposite POV, that the media does not list left, I mention here, with my objections. And earlier posts here and here touch on similar media issues.

You are correct that location does not necessarily cause belief, nor does having an opinion necessarily mean that one cannot report objectively. My starting point, based on the sources above and my own observations over the last 30 years, was that the slant exists, and I speculated why that might be.


Mark said...

Faith is all you have and hope is not a plan. That's your riddle for the day. Leave the driving to those with reason on their side. You're headed for the ditch.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

That's a helluva mixed metaphor for a professional writer.

katje said...

You kind of have to take the "professional writer" thing with a big grain of salt. I went to his site, and aside from his list o' credentials (which have no apparent bearing on this post), the rest of it is comprised of a lot of bitching and snivelling that no one can see what a genius he is, and the LA Times won't hire him, and how right he is, and that someday they'll learn... and... well, you get the point. A lot of hot air, and not much else except ego.
As to the writer part: well, I saw a lot of typo's and misspellings, some rather awkward constructions and, again, a whole lot of ego.

For that matter, I'm still trying to figure out if his metaphor is supposed to mean anything, or if he's trying to distance himself from his (obviously unsuccessful) attempts to be hired by the LAT, and break out onto the comedy circuit with a new act. If so, it might be interesting - no one's tried the nonsensical approach in years.

Midwest Product said...

Wow, I must say I don't believe my poorly written one-off response deserved a post of its own, but anyway.

I was, of course, remiss in not checking the archive before stating that AVI never provided evidence that the MSM leans left. On the other hand, I think citing the work of someone like Bernie Goldberg seems somewhat unfair, for the same reasons that it would be unfair for me to cite Al Franken or Molly Ivins if I were to try and argue that the media leans right (note - I emphatically am not trying to argue that point).

I would be curious to learn your thoughts on the current discussion (rant?) taking place among liberal bloggers over their perception that the MSM is targeting the left blogosphere's collective foul mouth while ignoring the calls to violence (including those against media participants) that are cropping up on popular right-leaning blogs. Obviously, even if on this point the MSM isn't listing to the left it doesn't refute your larger point. (Link here, apologies to those who don't like Glenn Greenwald but he seems a fair representation of left blogostan)

Midwest Product said...

Oh yeah, at the risk of writing too much, I wanted to comment on the UCLA study - it's nice to see an attempt at real scholarship on the subject and I would hope that this has inspired more research. My main qualm with their technique, and I don't know which direction this would skew the data (if at all), is that it only counts the number of references to left- or right-wing sources without looking at whether the references are approving or not. As an example of what I mean, ABC News might cite the Eagle Forum in a story but say that the Eagle Forum's data is bad. As I understand the UCLA study, this would consitute a point towards the right for ABC even though it should actually be counted as a liberal story. Additionally, a news outlet with real bias might intentionally look for stories from the other side that appear to support their views, even if they are misrepresenting their source.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

katje - I've been commenting on other sites concerning global warming, Mann's hockey stick graph, etc, and I think mark came over and just commented on whatever was first.

mp - I don't expect people to scour my archives when they stop by. It was a good r3eminder to me that sometimes people are coming in on the middle of a conversation.

Re: Ann Coulter, Little Green Footballs, etc. As the national rhetoric has inflated, comments that could in some contexts be considered funny because of their outrageousness are now creepy. Garrison Keillor had a funny routine about how "tasty" vegetarians looked, but I wouldn't tell that joke on the psych unit of the prison. Ann is an intelligent and socially skilled person who should know better. My suspicion is she's become quite fond of being important, and is lowering her standards to keep in the public eye. That's not a good enough excuse, in my mind. Most people know she's not violent. But we shouldn't tempt those who are with any hint of acceptability of their violence.

Blogosphere: this is a fascinating topic, and I wonder where it is all going to fall out. The MSM considers the right blogosphere to be its philosophical opposition, and has used a certain type of dismissive condescension to discredit it. But the left blogosphere is now the competition, and the same tactics may not apply. Most people don't get their news and commentary from the blogosphere, and both the MSM and the bloggers know this. But the hard-news junkies of all political stripes are getting their news and commentary from the net, and the MSM knows this and worries if it's a trend.

At the moment, the traditional conservative publications - NRO, Washington Times, etc - and the conservative bloggers have a good relationship. On the left it's getting nasty. In a few years, that situation may be reversed.

The MSM audience tends to be older, 50-up, so the bloggers think of themselves as the Young Turks. But the political bloggers don't tend to be the twentysomethings - they tend to be 35-60. The generation younger than us also gets its news online, but it tends to be more indirect, and more driven by MySpace and Xanga-type interactions. Where they will eventually settle remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

I'm tickled pink (I've always wondered what that really means) that Mark York has decided to comment here. My friend Katje is correct, York is a failed journalist and a global warming true believer. He has been banned from more sites (including my own) than I have visited. OK, that was a little bit of hyperbole.

As to the main point of your post AVI, I have always wondered, and perhaps you have a particularly accurate insight, as to why the majority of the MSM deny being a little on the left (some would say a lot on the left) side of the political equation. The typical response from bloggers and commenters on the left is that the MSM can't possibly be leftish because they are owned by corporations and all corporations are by definition unreconstructed fascists. However, media corporations are about making money, just as any other corporation and profit is the point from the viewpoint of shareholders. If one indeed looks at the product with a non-prejudiced eye, one will see a definate tilt to the left for a majority of the MSM. If one listens carefully to broadcast news, one definately picks up on the bias towards the left. There are also MSM outlets that tilt to the right and no one can deny that with any degree of creditability, but the majority of MSM outlets have a definitive tilt leftwards.

Good post, thanks too for the links. Good reading all.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

As I mentioned here, the tilt is somewhat from the environment they are in. If you are in a group of people who believe in astrology and root chakras, for example, you will have an impression that "a lot of people" believe in those things, even if you don't yourself.

I remember vividly from high school, college, my years in the Lutheran Church, and especially my years working in mental health, that all the cool kids were liberals. That was simply understood.