The liberal bias of the mainstream media tilts so far left that any outlets not in that political lane, like the Drudge Report and Fox News Channel, look far more conservative than they really are, according to a UCLA professor's new book out next month.
In a crushing body blow to the pushers of the so-called "Fox Effect," which claims the conservative media is dragging the left into the center, UCLA political science professor Tim Groseclose in Left Turn claims that "all" mainstream news outlets have a liberal bias in their reporting that makes even moderate organizations appear out of the mainstream and decidedly right-wing to news consumers who are influenced by the slant. [Read Fox's Huckabee slams MSNBC's Matthews, Scarborough over bias.]
"Fox News is clearly more conservative than ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and National Public Radio. Some will conclude that 'therefore, this means that Fox News has a conservative bias,'" he writes in an advance copy provided to Washington Whispers. "Instead, maybe it is centrist, and possibly even left-leaning, while all the others are far left. It's like concluding that six-three is short just because it is short compared to professional basketball players."
What's more, he says, "this point illustrates a common misconception about the Drudge Report. According to my analysis, the Drudge Report is approximately the most fair, balanced, and centrist news outlet in the United States. Yet, the overwhelming majority of media commentators claim that it has a conservative bias. The problem, I believe, is that such commentators mistake relative bias for absolute bias. Yes, the Drudge Report is more conservative than the average U.S. news outlet. But it is a logical mistake to use that to infer that it is based on an absolute scale."
And in further analysis sure to enrage critics of conservative media, Groseclose determines that Drudge, on a conservative to liberal scale of 0-100, with 50 being centrist, actually leans a bit left of center with a score of 60.4. The reason: Drudge mostly links to the sites of the mainstream media, with just a few written by Matt Drudge himself. "Since these links come from a broad mix of media outlets, and since the news in general is left-leaning, it should not be surprising that the slant quotient of the Drudge Report leans left," he writes. [Read Poll: Fox, O'Reilly most trusted news sources.]
The author developed a calculation to figure out the "political quotient" to find the bias of media outlets and the average slant of an organization.
Groseclose opens his book quoting a well-known poll in which Washington correspondents declared that they vote Democratic 93 percent to 7 percent, while the nation is split about 50-50. As a result, he says, most reporters write with a liberal filter. "Using objective, social-scientific methods, the filtering prevents us from seeing the world as it actually is. Instead, we see only a distorted version of it. It is as if we see the world through a glass—a glass that magnifies the facts that liberals want us to see and shrinks the facts that conservatives want us to see." [Check out political cartoons about the Democratic Party.]
He adds: "That bias makes us more liberal, which makes us less able to detect the bias, which allows the media to get away with more bias, which makes us even more liberal."
Some key points:
"Every mainstream national news outlet in the United States has a liberal bias."
"Supposedly conservative news outlets are not far right. For instance, the conservative bias of [Fox's] Special Report is significantly less than the liberal bias of CBS Evening News."
"Media bias aids Democratic candidates by about 8 to 10 percentage points in a typical election. I find, for instance, that if media bias didn't exist, John McCain would have defeated Barack Obama 56 percent to 42 percent, instead of losing 53-46." [See editorial cartoons about Barack Obama.]
Perhaps the most useful part of his book is the slant ratings of the media. The numbers are based on a conservative-to-liberal 0-100 rating, with 50 being centrist:
Left Turn, How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind, published by St. Martin's Press, is due out July 19.