Media Matters

The Objective Truth

Liberal media still think they own the copyright to it.

By 10.8.10

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In its recent poll of where people get their news, Politico.com offers an apparently new definition of the word "objective."

The poll data show that 81% of respondents receive information and news about the mid-term elections from cable TV, with 71% getting info and news from "national broadcast TV news and their websites." Other major sources were:

Conversations with friends/family: 79%
Local TV news and their websites: 73%
Newspapers: 72%
Radio: 58%
Websites and blogs (other than the national/local news sites): 39%
Political ads: 37%

Much to the dismay of liberals, the cable news breakdown looks like this:

Mainly CNN: 30%
Mainly Fox News: 42%
Mainly MSNBC: 12%
Other cable news channel/website: 9%

Politico, which like most "establishment" news sources staffed by the usual journalism school graduate suspects, feels a need to criticize or insult the obvious dolts who are handing Fox News this media victory:

The results of the poll...also reflect a trend that many commentators and media analysts find disconcerting: Voters are turning to media sources that reinforce their political worldviews rather than present them with more objective reporting that might challenge their assumptions.

Sure, Politico says this trend is "disconcerting" to "many commentators and media analysts"...but that group of course includes Politico, which doesn't attempt to quantify what "many" means and if "many" even represents more than a small percentage of such "analysts."

In any case, the most objectionable part of the article was its use of the word "objective" to imply that if we turned to CBS News or a newspaper or presumably Politico.com we would get "objective" reporting as opposed to whatever it is we get from Fox.

Does anybody really believe that before the advent of Fox News and widespread availability of cable news channels, Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw was giving us "objective" news? Remember Dan Rather, the guy who tried to bury President Bush with a forged document? The earliest major cable news outlet, CNN, was and remains decidedly left-of-center.

A Harvard study of news coverage of the 2008 presidential primary season found CNN to be the most negative toward Republicans among cable news channels: "The CNN programming studied tended to cast a negative light on Republican candidates -- by a margin of three-to-one." Believe it or not, MSNBC had a higher percentage of positive stories about both Democrats and Republicans than either CNN or FOX, as it simply pandered to both parties. As for Fox, the study concluded "any sense here that the news channel was uniformly positive about Republicans or negative about Democrats is not manifest in the data."

Also within cable news channels CNN, Fox, and MSNBC, Fox had the highest percentage of "neutral" stories about Republicans (just slightly above CNN). Also, while Fox had a higher percentage of negative stories about Democrats than either CNN or MSNBC, it had a higher percentage of neutral stories than negative stories. Taking just the difference between positive and negative stories about both parties for all three networks, Fox rated as the most neutral.

As far as the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), "The tone of coverage in the 30-minute evening newscasts was much more positive toward the Democrats than Republicans." And for the networks' morning broadcasts, "the shows produced almost twice as many stories focused on Democratic candidates than on Republicans (51% vs. 27%)."

Also worth noting is that the most pro-Democrat bias among various forms of media was in newspapers: "Fully 59% of all stories about Democrats had a clear, positive message vs. 11% that carried a negative tone. That is roughly double the percentage of positive stories that we found in the media generally."

So, back to "objective": The idea that people should tune into stations (or read other news sources) beyond Fox News in order to get more objective news is, at least according to the Harvard study and the apparent decision of millions of viewers, ridiculous. Fox has shown that it lives by "fair and balanced" which, in the eyes of those only used to seeing liberal propaganda masquerading as news, might seem subjective and conservative. But that's a problem with Politico's perception and that of its quoted "analysts." While the dominant liberal media see Fox as a problem, viewers are obviously seeing it as a solution.

The reason people are flocking to Fox is not, as Politico would have you believe, that they are aiming to reinforce their already-existing views. It's that people recognize, in large part because Fox News has given them something to compare to, the pervasive liberal bias in the media.

Coincidentally, Gallup released a poll just a few days after the Politico poll showing that "distrust in U.S. media [has edged] up to a record high," with a record high 57% now saying "they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly." Forty-eight percent of Americans believe the media is too liberal, tying the previous record, while only 15% believe the media is too conservative (you have to wonder who those people are.) Also, only 33% believe the media's political leanings are "just about right", tying the record low.

Democrats/Liberals trust the media most. Republicans/Conservatives trust it least. Even among Democrats, however, 22% think the media is too liberal with 26% thinking it's too conservative. Among Independent and Republican voters, those numbers are 45%-15% and 76%-6%, respectively.

Only in a world where war is peace and black is white are national broadcast news or newspapers "objective" and Fox News not, but that's the world of Ivy League journalism schools, newspaper editorial boards, and CBS's newsroom. So when you hear the liberal media telling you, Mr. or Mrs. Fox Viewer, to tune in elsewhere for "objective" news, don't be fooled. They're not encouraging you to be better-informed. They're only trying to save their own skins from your overdue recognition of the unforgiveable bias to which they've subjected Americans for at least the past half century. 

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About the Author
Ross Kaminsky is a self-employed trader and investor and is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute. He is the host of The Ross Kaminsky Show on Denver's NewsRadio 850 KOA on Saturday mornings from 6 AM to 9 AM. You can reach Ross by e-mail at rossputin(at)rossputin(dot)com.