Commentary – Where is the liberal bias?The political proclivity of the mainstream media (MSM) has become the subject of much recent discussion in the Echo. I once had a boss noted for his malapropisms – and in this instance he would have said it just depends on “whose axe (ox) is being gored.”
By Tom Obert,
The political proclivity of the mainstream media (MSM) has become the subject of much recent discussion in the Echo. I once had a boss noted for his malapropisms – and in this instance he would have said it just depends on “whose axe (ox) is being gored.”
The alleged liberalism of the MSM has been a conservative issue for decades. Fifty years ago no finer source than my father wrote the following in response to such charges in Nieman Reports, June 1961: “Both dailies and weeklies (newspapers) supported the Republican candidate for president by a ratio of better than two to one in 1960, and were even more emphatic in their support of the Republican ticket in 1956 and 1952… both weekly and daily editors and publishers polled before the 1960 election confidently predicted, by a margin of better than two to one… that Richard Nixon would be elected by a near landslide.” In spite of that, we know Nixon subsequently went on to believe that the press was his enemy.
The dichotomy of the conservative concern about liberal media bias was truly highlighted after the recent election. Suddenly, the major concern of the right was that the “fairness doctrine” would be re-established, meaning, in their view, that the government would either tell Rush Limbaugh, et al, to stuff a sock in it (all in good humor, of course) or require that liberals have equal access to the public airways. This concern is an acknowledgment by conservatives that the radio is actually dominated by the right. This is borne out by the statistics – in 2007, on 257 news/talk stations, 91 percent of the programming was conservative, 9 percent was liberal – in the top 10 radio markets, 76 percent of the programming is conservative and 24 percent is liberal. So, where is the liberal bias?
The numbers don’t change much when you look at newspapers. Sixty percent of the nation’s daily newspapers print more conservative than liberal columnists – only 20 percent print more liberals than conservatives. Conservative columnists reach 30 million more people daily based on total newspaper circulation. Conservative columnists reach more readers than liberal columnists in 38 states. Even in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, mockingly referred to as the Red Star by Republican friends, the number of guest columnists of the conservative persuasion (Will, Krauthammer, Saunders, May, Gerson, et al) outnumber those from the left. Again, where is the liberal bias?
We can only assume this issue was designed solely to be a permanent Republican campaign slogan. This is similarly true of the “Democrats are for big government” (I am one, and I’m not) and “American colleges and universities are bastions of extreme liberalism.” Regarding the latter, conservative writer David Frum notes college graduates voted for the Republican candidate for president for as long as exit polling existed, until Obama. That means either our colleges and universities don’t proselytize a liberal agenda… or do it very badly, possibly not unlike the liberal MSM?