Musings on Media Bias

Most conservatives are convinced—not without good reason—that the mainstream media (that is, traditional print outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post, as well as the big three television networks) are biased against both conservatives themselves and their ideas.

I’m going to take that bias as a given: there are simply too many examples as documented by the Media Research Center, Newsbusters,  Accuracy in Media, and many other groups.  It has also been documented in books, such as “Left Turn” by Tim Groseclose as well as in other academic studies.  Indeed, as I was writing this piece Gallup released a poll saying that 60% of Americans believe the media is biased.  (A different Pew poll found that 42% of Americans think “the press is immoral” and “hurt[s] democracy”.)

Let me add here that I do not advocate any legislative solution to the problem.  In a republic, the role of a free, independent press is far too important to allow for a legislative solution to a very real problem.  Nor do I favor a press that is equally biased toward a conservative viewpoint.  It might be impossible for a particular journalist to be unbiased, but it is not impossible for any outlet to strive to balance their coverage between conservative and leftist viewpoints—thus serving all of their readers better.

Unfortunately, that is not what is happening.  Instead, we are seeing the major outlets becoming more and more openly leftist, both in their editorials and in their news coverage.

Interestingly, newspapers are seeing an enormous decline in readership, and the big three television networks command only a small fraction of the audience share.  While there are certainly non-political reasons for this, such as people getting their news from other sources, most notably the internet, there are also political reasons.  Is it unreasonable that conservatives don’t want to get their news and information from outlets that openly disparage their views, call them names (like “terrorists” or “hostage-takers”), and smear the characters of their politicians?

Parenthetically, I would note that conservatives and leftists are different in this area: conservatives really can’t avoid reading or watching leftist viewpoints—for we are bombarded with them.  Leftists, however, can and do avoid reading, watching, or thinking about conservative viewpoints.

So I end with a thought for the management of the mainstream media outlets:  If you change your coverage to make a better attempt to cover conservative issues in a much less biased way, it might be possible to win back some of your readers or watchers—which might result in better advertising numbers and thus to better financial bottom-lines.

 

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