Monday, October 17, 2011

Pew Finds Extreme Conservative Bias In Media

A study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that, in the past five months, the American main stream media has given Pres. Obama the most unremittingly negative press of any of the presidential candidates by a wide margin, while giving Republican candidates extremely positive press coverage.

Liberal Media Bias -- You’ve probably heard it used to describe the American main stream media hundreds, if not thousands of times. One of the most often made claims of the right-wing messaging machine is that the mainstream media are composed almost entirely of liberals who work in concert to promote progressive viewpoints and elect Democrats, while portraying conservative viewpoints, Republicans, and the Tea Party AstroTurf movement with contempt.

Liberal Media Bias is a useful red herring, in that it fires up the faithful conservative base and provides a convenient scapegoat for when the American public rejects conservative policies and/or politicians. Right wing political pundits regularly regurgitate the term to bully the main stream media into giving evermore air time and print space to conservative messaging, without ever questioning it’s authenticity or reporting alternative viewpoints

Pew's Excellence in Journalism study found a marked conservative bias in coverage the main stream media has given to the presidential candidates over the past five months. The American press gave Pres. Obama unremittingly negative press by a four to one margin, while giving Republican candidates extremely positive press coverage.

Pew found that just 9 percent of the president’s coverage was positive, while 34 percent was negative — a stark contrast to the 32 percent positive coverage and 20 percent negative that it found Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the most covered Republican, received.

The top four most favorably covered candidates, the study found, were all tea party favorites: Perry was followed by Palin, with 31 percent positive coverage and 22 percent negative; Michele Bachmann, with 31 percent positive coverage and 23 percent negative; and Herman Cain, with 28 percent positive coverage and 23 percent negative. Mitt Romney’s positive and negative coverage were almost in a dead heat at 26 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

Jonathan Alter, a columnist for Bloomberg View, observes the main stream media has been overtly critical of Pres. Obama for almost his entire term, not just the last six months covered in the Pew study:
“It hasn’t been the case over just the last six months, it’s been the case over the last 2½ years,” he said. “Obama never got a honeymoon, if you actually look back into the early days of his presidency. He got very positive press on the first day, and he’s been in the scrum ever since.”

He also argues that the old conservative charge of the “liberal media” ceased to be true with the rise of cable news.

“The truth about the American media is that we have gone, over the last 15 years, from something that could accurately be called a dominant liberal media — through the period of American liberalism, from the end of World War II to the founding of Fox News in 1996 — to a dominant conservative media in this country,” he said.
A robust, free press has been viewed by many as an essential check on government and business since the early days of the Republic. “The only security of all is in a free press,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1823. Nearly 60 years ago, the Supreme Court declared that "the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is essential to the condition of a free society."

Unfortunately, media consolidation over the past twenty years has taken its toll on the "widest possible dissemination of information as an essential check on government and business." Through successive corporate acquisitions and mergers a few massive multinational media conglomerate corporations run by conservative mangage control more and more of our vital information sources – including television networks, cable channels, newspaper publishing, radio, and the Internet.

One-third of America's independently-owned television stations have vanished since 1975, while at the same time, three media giants now own all of the major cable news networks in America. Before the The Telecommunications Act of 1996 lifted ownership limits for radio stations one company could own no more than 40 stations nationwide. The Act allowed incredible consolidation of radio station ownership and one company alone, Clear Channel Inc., now owns nearly 1,200 radio stations across the country. Here is what radio media consolidation has wrought:
  • 91% of the programming (2,570 hours per weekday) was hosted by the conservatives, 9% (254 hours) by the progressives.
  • Broken down according to station ownership, the numbers are as follows: Clear Channel: 86% conservative programming. Citadel: 100% conservative programming. Cumulus: 100% conservative programming. Salem: 100% conservative programming. CBS stands out from the rest politically, but still shows a 3:1 conservative-to-progressive ratio.
  • In some markets (most notably, New York and Chicago), the ratio is close to 1:1. In others (Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, it's 100% conservative or very close to it.)
More than two-thirds of independently-owned newspapers have disappeared over the last 35 years with more than 200 publishing companies disappearing over the last 20 years. Vin Crosbie, a noted Syracuse University professor and consultant, has predicted that more than half of the approximately 1,400 daily newspapers publishing in the country today could be out of business by 2020.

Newspaper publishers have reduced daily newsroom staffing of more than 29% from since 2001 as circulation and advertising revenues have plummeted over the last decade. Every year there are fewer and fewer newspaper reporters covering state capitols and city halls, while the number of states with newspapers covering the U.S. Congress full-time has dwindled from 35 in 1985 to just 21 in 2010.

In 1910, nearly 60% of cities had competing daily papers, but today that completion of viewpoints has all but disappeared. Traditional media companies use the ‘lack of objectivity’ excuse as a convenient way to put down citizen journalism. That’s a fair critique, as most people who step up to the roll of citizen journalist are usually biased to some degree.

Fact is, however, everything you see on TV, hear on the radio or read in the paper is colored by the limited knowledge, opinions based on that knowledge and biases of professional journalists and editors working for a few large media corporations. Today, too many managing editors manipulate their editorial decisions to suit a publisher’s agenda, as Fox News, and most of the other News Corp properties well demonstrate.

The amount of filtering and editing that happens from an event occurring to publication of details in the increasingly understaffed and conservative owned traditional media world makes it impossible for voters to receive the full and unbiased information they need from the main stream media.

No comments:

Post a Comment