Liberal Media?

A recent analysis done by Media Matters took a look at the editorial columns carried in American newspapers. Interestingly, it found:

“Sixty percent of the nation’s daily newspapers print more conservative syndicated columnists every week than progressive syndicated columnists. Only 20 percent run more progressives than conservatives, while the remaining 20 percent are evenly balanced.”

and

“The top 10 columnists as ranked by the number of papers in which they are carried include five conservatives, two centrists, and only three progressives.”

and

“In three out of the four broad regions of the country — the West, the South, and the Midwest — conservative syndicated columnists reach more readers than progressive syndicated columnists. Only in the Northeast do progressives reach more readers, and only by a margin of 2 percent.”

Media Matters is a self-described “progressive” organization, but this seems to be just a matter of contacting papers and keeping a tally. Some might say that columnists like David Broder and Cokie Roberts should be categorized a liberals instead of moderates. I agree with their categorization on that, but even if you counted every single “moderate” as a “liberal,” it looks like conservative columns would still enjoy a heavy 60% to 40% advantage.

And what about Minnesota? The analysis found that we have the 9th most liberal editorial pages in the nation. However, the conservative voice on Minnesota editorial pages was still slightly more dominant than the liberal voice.

– Loveland

14 thoughts on “Liberal Media?

  1. Joaquim says:

    This data isn’t valid or useful. They obfuscate by restricting the research to nationally ‘syndicated’ columns, which everyone knows is a minimal aspect of every newspaper’s editorial section.

    How about a metric that honestly categorizes editorial page content (conservative, moderate or liberal) and measures column inches of all editorial page content (including guest columns, house editorials, letters to the editor), which is then multiplied by total circulation?

    The results would be lopsided in one direction. And we all know which way. More junk science.

  2. These studies always reinforce the left’s theories that bias is in favor of the conservatives in the media. Yet if taken with the NEWS sections and how stories are conceived and framed let alone what is covered and you will see the total leftist control of newspapers.

  3. Michael says:

    Media Matters? That is hilarious. Everyone is America knows it’s bias. All one has to do is go to the site and click on any of its links to commentators and read their routine bashing of anything even remotely conservative. MM has been a joke for years, the fact that you put it on your blog and expect people to think its unbiased, makes you and your blog an even bigger joke. You might as well just link to Moveon.org and go spend your time of something else. I’m sorry I even stopped to read this.

  4. GB says:

    Liberal media? Or media liberals? Earlier this summer, MSNBC did an analysis that found journalists donated to liberal politicians and causes at a rate of something like 9 to 1 over conservative politicians. From the report: “Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes. Only 16 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.” The report is still available at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19113485/page/3/.

  5. Joseph Buttafuoco says:

    Hey – why all the potshots at Channel 9’s morning anchor and a Strib DFL operativer, er, editor?

    (D) Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Barbara Haugen, copy editor, $250 to Sen. Amy Klobucher, a Democrat, in October 2006.

    Haugen did not return phone calls. The paper’s managing editor, Scott Gillespie, said, “We have a conflict of interest policy. We ask that people who are involved in political coverage — we dissuade them — we actually dissuade the entire staff. We haven’t banned it outright for the entire newsroom. Our policy says that people should avoid doing any partisan politics on their own, avoid any politics. It’s especially emphasized for people who do political coverage.”

    (D) Fox affiliate in Minneapolis, KMSP, Alix Kendall, morning anchor, $250 in September 2006 to Midwest Values PAC, which gave to Democratic candidates.

    Kendall said she opposes the war and thought that her donation was anonymous.

    “I also believe that the station doesn’t own my political views and values. Did I make the contribution? I did. We all have political opinions in this business. A lot of us want to be politically active. But marching in a war protest isn’t an option, being a recognizable person, so we give with our checkbook. I don’t think that working for a news organization I give up my rights. I interview plenty of people that I don’t agree with, but I also ask questions to get the other side. I think it’s actually an advantage — in a news organization we have people of many political views. We have healthy debates. I think it’s my civic duty to be involved in what matters to me. I think it’s ridiculous that anyone who’s sitting in front of a camera doesn’t have an opinion — come on, we all do. Did I think about that at the time? No, I didn’t. Maybe I should have. But I still feel I have a right to my civic duties.”

  6. jloveland says:

    I absolutely concede this analysis focuses on a subset of newspaper content, rather than all newspaper content. I readily concede that reporters are disproportionately liberal (though I’m thoroughly unconvinced their reporting on the whole is liberal). And I already conceded in the post that Media Matters is liberal, and that organization itself concedes that point.

    But does that automatically make the analysis conclusion false — that newspapers are disproportionately running conservative columnists? If Media Matters said the sun rose in the east this morning, would it automatically be false because Media Matters said it?

    The finding frankly surprised me, because the mix of syndicated columnists seems pretty balanced around here, a suspicion which the Media Matters analysis affirms.

  7. Richard says:

    Hey – anyone out there know when Joel Kramer’s soon-to-fail e-newspaper will launch? The last thing this town needs is a third liberal newspaper.

  8. jloveland says:

    As I look back, my conclusion was not clear in this post. I apologize. Lazy writing. My conclusion is not that American papers are conservative hotbeds. My conclusion is that claims that conservatives are gagged by the liberal media are overstated. Even if the leftist Lucifers at Media Matters have their tally half wrong, publishers are clearly proactively paying a lot of money to bring the nation’s strongest conservative voices to their editorial pages. That runs contary to all the hysteria about liberal suppression of conservative views.

  9. And loveland wrote…

    “…publishers are clearly proactively paying a lot of money to bring the nation’s strongest conservative voices to their editorial pages.”

    Folks, if you don’t like what you’re reading or watching you can always close the book, change the channel or click to the next web page. There is and always will be plenty of left-wing and plenty ‘o right-wing view points out there to read or ignore. The nice thing is we get to CHOOSE what we believe and read.

  10. Well said dailytri. If you don’t like the content, then don’t read it. If you think the content is all one-sided, then go publish something yourself.

    One thing I hate more than anything is when people say a publication is liberal. If you don’t like it, go read a publication with a conservative reputation.

    Just because you complain about too much of one side in a publication doesn’t mean its editorial staff is going to change because you complained. None of us are that special.

  11. GH says:

    I don’t know, Dailytri and Garret. I remain vexed by the obvious, latent Whig bias that permiated most politcal reporting committed to wax cylinder between the late 1880s and the mid-1920s or so. I mean, come on!

    On second thought, I agree entirely with you two. I’d be pleased if we all could simply 1)accept bias in reporting as fact and 2) agree that we’ll all use our thinking caps to take sources into consideration when we’re reading stuff.

    It’s 2007. You’ve got your media now, everyone — all you can eat, any flavor you want. Discern, choose, consume, by all means. But might we please — conservatives, liberals, moderates and Whigs — end this pointless game of “gotcha” every time someone files a story or a journalist confesses to voting or wanting to?

  12. jl says:

    Personally, I prefer to get multiple viewpoints in a single publication, if for no other reason than to save me time. Yes, I can find a variety of viewpoints by shopping around, and I do that when I have time or deeper interest level. But just as I prefer to save time by going to Super Target rather than separate grocery, hardware, clothes, electronics, and sporting goods stores, I like publications that capture multiple viewpoints under a single masthead. Just as I run across things in Super Target I didn’t even know I was interested in, I am exposed to other ideas in publications that carry multiple viewpoints, opinions that I wouldn’t ordinarily seek out.

    My personal preferences aside, if outlets claim to give varied viewpoints — which mainstream media most certainly do — then they should be expected to deliver.

  13. Kinda sucks when one has more than the other.

    I realize that statement sounds almost retarded.
    But if you look at in a serious context it is true in a lot of aspects.
    The question that should be asked is if it is an engineered market or the results of supply and demand in a free market place.
    If its engineered from bias outside sources (Souros) its either a paid advertisement or propoganda. Then there are the products that people actually read because they want to.
    Is it a vast left wing conspiracy to flood the market with liberal press ?
    Do we have to wear tin foil hats around Murdoch ?

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