Is the news media politically biased?

A viewer asked this question on 6/17/2000:

"It isn't News any more, it's Liberal Propaganda." Agree or Disagree?

madpol gave this response on 6/19/2000:

I disagree. The "Liberal Media," is mostly a myth.

The fact is that Major market outlets, both print and electronic, are concentrating under fewer owners each year--with ownership being overwhelmingly corporate and not at all Liberal.

The overt bias may be Liberal, but what doesn't get reported shapes public opinion every bit as much as what does.

A lot of important stories get spiked or are underreported until the internet or the alternative press circulates them too widely to ignore.

A viewer asked this follow-up question on 6/20/2000:

I am having trouble reconciling your points of view: if the liberal media is a myth, how do you account for the overt bias? I agree that spiking a story is worse than putting a spin on it, but I'd like to know where you go for an unbiased source of the news and whether you are a letter writer to the editors of newspapers and magazines to air a dissenting opinion.

madpol gave this response on 6/21/2000:

The easiest way to tell a lie undetectably is to tell an obvious lie over what you want to hide. The press says it's unbiased and shows and obvious Liberal slant. So nobody looks any deeper.

The best example of this kind of lying is Roswell. The Air Force lost a B-36 outside of Roswell with a nuclear weapon and initiated a Palomares style clean up. There was no way the Government could afford to admit a nuclear accident at that point, there had already been a couple of close calls. There's no way you can hide an operation that big, but you can mislead people as to what the operation is about.

So the Air force planted the "Flying Saucer" story with enough "evidence" to make it credible. In fact, the words "flying saucer" initially appeared in an Air Force press release about the crash. Then they denied it. For more than 50 years, people have been looking for proof of the "saucer crash."

I don't look for an unbiased news source,(Although the straight news sections of the Wall Street Journal is pretty good.) What I do is learn what a paper's or station's slant is, then filter for it.

I do write letters, and have my own website for commentary ( but I haven't been there lately.

npscott gave this response on 6/18/2000:

I agree there's a bias in reporting the news, but whether liberal or conservative depends on the specific media.

In Washington, D.C. there are The Washington Post and The Washington Times newspapers.

The Post is liberal; the Times is conservative.

I subscribe to the Times, and enjoy it. I also write as an independent writer, for it's Civil War Section.

The Times frequently boasts that it has an unbiased news approach. Yet, the newspaper shows it's conservative bias in its placement of the news on the front page, the headlines it writes, and the slant of the news story itself.

If President Clinton delivers a speech, and you pick up the Post and read about it; and then pick up the Times and read about it; you're left wondering if the reporters were in the same room.

The Times also has the inside track to disaffected Pentagon Generals and intelligence officers (they come by the handful in DC). Generals play politics, and the Times goes along with it, under the cover of 'uncovering' security weaknesses.

The Post, of course, does the same as the Times. The popular wisdom, however, is that the Press has an overwhelmingly liberal bias. So I've been specific about the Times to make the point that the media is 'organizational' biased.

Example: Gore's campaign chairman resigns:

Fact: Tony Coelho, VP Gore's campaign chairman resigned this Friday from his hospital bed. He's a sick man, and needs to get well.

The Treatment:

The POST led with a story about William Daley, Coelho's replacement. Beginning in the third paragraph, the Post detailed Gore's recent campaign difficulties.

The POST's first sentence:

"Vice President Gore accepted the resignation of campaign chairman Tony Coelho today, summoning Commerce Secretary and long-time Democratic strategist William Daley to take over stewardship of his Presidential campaign."

The Times led with Coelho's resignation, making reference in the first sentence to Gore's campaign difficulties, using the judgement word "flagging":

"Tony Coelho, chief strategist of Al Gore's flagging presidential campaign resigned yesterday because of ill health and will be replaced by Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, who will take over July 15."

The Post likely focused on Daley because it broke the Coelho resignation story Thursday, before Coelho had announced it.

Nevertheless, contrast the two approaches: One (POST) uses positive words in the first sentence, summoning, stewardship, long-time strategist;

the other (TIMES) uses negative words: ill-health; replacement; flagging.

The POST coverage is upbeat, focusing on the new man and new opportunities; the TIMES coverage is negative, focusing on the resignation and campaign difficulties.

That's coverage in the real world.

Readers have to read widely and diversely to get all 'takes' on the news and then form their own judgements, which perhaps, windup more biased than the news reporters, including myself.

Even with this liberal/conservative bias in presenting the news, today's press is far better than it was even fifty years ago.

100+ years ago, in Lincoln's time, newspapers were little more than the in-house press for either the Republican or Democratic party. In fact, the New York Times was run by the Chairman of the Republican Party.

Summing up: The media is both liberal and conservatively biased, the bias being "media specific", and not generic, or media-wide.

Citizens need to take the bias of the TV station, network, or publication, into account when reading news reports.

A viewer rated this answer:

Thank you for your time and informed opinion.

JesseGordon responded:

...[No Post on Issues2000]

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