How Do You Measure Media Partiality If the Facts Have a Liberal Bias?

Ivan Carter makes an excellent observation in Media Studies — Including Yesterday's in LA Times, Have Major Flaw which appears at Daily Kos. Here's the start of it:

The study that was widely cited yesterday, and reported in the LA times, is inherently flawed.

It found that the media's coverage of Barack Obama was negatively slanted in comparison to that of John McCain. But to the extent the facts favor McCain, what the study concluded would not necessarily be true.

And to the extent the facts tend to support Obama, the study's conclusion of media bias against Obama (or in favor of McCain) would understate the bias that is in fact present. And, perhaps more importantly, the stronger the case in favor of Obama (and the weaker the actual case in favor of McCain) the more this would be so.  

There is no unwritten rule of politics or sociology  dictating that the objective facts, in the context of every single voting American's personal beliefs, were they to have perfect knowledge, must invariably favor both candidates equally.

In other words, just we should not expect coverage of Osama bin Laden to be 50% positive, so too it does not follow that the two major candidates will be equally truthful, equally coherent, equally sensible, equally gaffe-prone, and so on. Yet that is the baseline which media bias studies such as the LA Times's use.

Even with the 50/50 baseline they find that McCain gets a better press than Obama. But when you consider that facts have a liberal bias, that result is particularly striking.

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2 Responses to How Do You Measure Media Partiality If the Facts Have a Liberal Bias?

  1. Don says:

    What of the other, perhaps more significant flaws in the study or in the way it’s presented:

    1) It didn’t study “the media”: it studied the 3 major TV network prime anchor news programs. No opinion shows, no cable. No press.

    2) Only a minuscule portion of the major news was found by the study to include ANY statements which could be measured for their bias. The study said there were “less than two opinion statements per night on the candidates on all three networks combined.”[!]

    3) Since there were (supposedly) so few examples of biased opinion on the news, isn’t it pretty important for us to know exactly what they were? Maybe we wouldn’t even agree with the studies authors on whether they were biased or toward whom.

    4) If the study is good, on its own limited merits, doesn’t it relatively demonstrate how very little bias there is, one way or the other?

  2. milwaukee says:

    Ok. I followed you just fine until you said that the “facts have a liberal bias”. What?? I guess I need to follow your link to find out what you’re talking about. Grrr…



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