More On “Media Bias Report 3.1”

It is amazing how many desperate liberals  circulate or defend  the absurd, misleading and incompetent chart purporting to measure the bias of various news sources as if the thing had any integrity at all. First of all, they could not (I hope) have read the creator’s nonsensical criteria for her assessments. Second, it should be obvious that no single individual could possibly examine and compare over 40 news sources with anything approaching thoroughness and accuracy. How would this be possible, even as a full-time endeavor, which it most certainly was not in this case? A research group like Pew might be able to pull such a study off with a large budget, lots of time, and a substantial staff, and even then I’m very dubious.

The chart is a classic example of making fake research—garbage in, garbage out— look impressive through packaging. This is, of course, unethical.

For the record, here are some of the factors someone who was seriously interested in measuring bias objectively (and not primarily determined to show that mainstream media bias is a right-wing myth):

Does the media organization have a code of ethics? Does it follow it, and enforce violations openly and transparently?

Does the organization police conflicts of interest? (NPR allowed  Gwen Ifill to moderate the 2008 Vice-Presidential debate while she was authoring a book about Obama’s candidacy. George Stephanopoulos was permitted by ABC to hold interviews related to the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. On CNN, Chris Cuomo was permitted to interview his brother.)

Does the organization address examples of blatant unprofessional journalism or punditry without waiting to see how the public reacts, or if the controversy will blow over?

Does it react quickly to deal with the displays of bias that create an appearance of impropriety? (see above)

Do reporters signal their opinions through tone, phrasing, and with on-air reporting, expressions and body-language?

Is content equally critical of both political parties and their leading figures?

Are extreme examples of bias and hostility permitted? Are apologies, if they are required, prominent? Carol Costello laughed on the air about Brtsol Palin being frightened and physically threatened. She was neither disciplined or required to apologize.

Are there examples of signature significance, when the organization allows a report or analysis that would never be allowed into print or on the air by an unbiased organization? The New York Times announced during the 2016 Presidential campaign that it would no longer strive for objectivity because it regarded Donald Trump to be an unacceptable candidate. NPR deceptively edited an interview with Ted Cruz.

Are headlines and screen crawls fair, objective and accurate?

Are commentators, experts, guests and panel members from all sides of the political spectrum equally professional and persuasive?

Has the organization delayed, omitted or buried stories that are unflattering to a particular party or politician? (The New York Times went to great lengths to frame President’s Obama’s false assurances regarding the Affordable Care Act as innocent mistakes.)

Does the organization hype or over-report stories that favor a particular party or politician?

Does the organization hype or over-report stories that are potentially damaging to a particular party or politician?

Does the organization apply the same standards to politicians in different parties? (Sarah Palin said stupid things, Joe Biden was just being Joe…)

Does the organization engage in open advocacy for political causes? CNN and other media sources aggressively promoted gun control measures in response to school shootings.

Can one predict with reasonable accuracy how a particular news source is going to cover a particular story?

It’s  long list, and there are many more criteria on it. None of these appear to have played any part in “Vanessa’s” analysis.


8 thoughts on “More On “Media Bias Report 3.1”

  1. Even the best research would not be able to take this on alone. It in itself is a product of bias or only one sampling happens. To research media bias you would need a teamof researcher and a sampling group that was much like the Nielsen ratings and not even then would it be perfect. Bias is a tricky thing. And many people that are biased are blissfully unaware that their views are such. I myself have been shocked when learning some of my realativea down views over the years, I like to think I have learned, but I carried guilt for years about my being gay, cause that was what I was taught. Before I received my Asperger’s diagnosis I was clueless as why people got mad at me. my studies on interpersonal communications, theatre, and logic, has helped. It does not completely stop me or anyone from making snap judgements, one very close friend ones noted that straight acting or more masculine gay men from my generation seamed to have a problem with femme gays. This cisgender straight male made me realize I had work to do in that regard, Thank you Jack, your sly mention of this bias had me really start listening to those people I often dismissed back then and of course that change gave me several wonderful friends, I also learned more of the injustices they faced.

    For those of you who think I am rambling part of my autistic brains way to solve problems is to examine things from different angles, if I a gay man can be biased based on interpretations based on how I see the world then how does anyone person analyze an entire section of our culture for bias, the only we’re to analyze such is with a large enough sampling to compare all there perceptions.
    When I direct a show I never tell my actors or designers exactly what I want I ask questions I tell stories to make them come to their own conclusions I want and get better than what I thought of in the first place. I want to make you think just like my good friend Jack made me think all those years ago.

    • My thoughts exactly, Rip, although I wasn’t around EA “all those” years ago. Thanks for voicing them.

      I agree completely that isn’t so much a matter of studying what constitutes bias to find rules to judge it or the extent of it . . . it is a way of thinking. Thinking critically, working backwards with a cool head from the given conclusion. And not least, to never take statistics (or shorthand models of it) at face value; in fact, never accepting statistics at all if you don’t know enough about the subject to know where they’re coming from.

      I’ve learned from other commenters on this blog as well – those whose experience and expertise come from other parts of the universe (or other lobes of their brains) – that it is possible to come to a different conclusion, and to respect the antithetical conclusion, simply because I can see we began from different valid premises (viz: atheism vs theism). Fortunately, I had learned early on to be aware and in control of my gay bias, though it is sometimes a delicate balancing act since I am holding that bias at bay while still observing and analyzing through a queer perspective.

      I regret not coming to a good base in statistics before a college advisor challenged me into it in my final semester. Up to then, I had only a background in logic and “regular” math (and a steadfast distrust of polls and questionnaires) to guide me in questioning statements supported by it. I am still learning.

      Perhaps statistics, like a (more) adequate level of reading and writing English, should be a mandatory high school course.

  2. “Is content equally critical of both political parties and their leading figures?” But Jack, one party is simply objectively more deserving of scorn, so heaping more scorn on it is not evidence of bias.

    Which party is left as an excercise for the reader… 😉

    Anyone who actually tries to deploy such an argument seriously is a symptom of the problem.

  3. Many years ago, I had a professor teach that NO media source is truly, completely unbiased. There will always be some consideration given about who pays the bills or has the power to interfere with the media source’s operation. Corporate sponsors, government regulators, pressure groups, community organizers, and unions all have the ability to shut down a media source, or to help it be much more successful. Few journalists have the integrity (or masochistic streak) needed to “…bite the hand that feeds them”. Self-interest colors their choice of stories, the tone of their coverage, and the sources they see as credible.

    To my frustration, the professor who explained this all so clearly to me also wasn’t very objective. An outspoken socialist, he had the delusion that state-run media were far more objective than corporate media, and advocated that all media sources be run by the government. His unfounded faith in the integrity of government-run media left an indelible impression about the way that each of us has “blind spots”, topics about which we can’t maintain objectivity.

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