Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama and Freedom of the Press

Sometimes the attack hits close enough to home that even the liberal main stream media can see Obama's power grabs for what they are.

(HT Gus van Horn)

The irony of Obama's attack on Fox News is that even a study by the liberal Pew Research Center showed that Fox News was the most even-handed during the last presidential campaign.

40 percent of Fox News stories on Obama in the last six weeks of the campaign were negative. Similarly, 40 percent of Fox News' stories on Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, were negative.

On CNN, by contrast, there was a 22-point disparity in the percentage of negative stories on Obama (39 percent) and McCain (61 percent). The disparity was even greater at MSNBC, according to Pew, where just 14 percent of Obama stories were negative, compared to a whopping 73 percent of McCain stories -- a spread of 59 points.

Although the article quoted above does not provide the source for the Pew study it mentions, I did find this through my own search.

"The Color of News : How different media have covered the general election." Oct. 29, 2008

In the original article, various news agencies are compared to the "media overall." Given the strong liberal bias of the general news media, I find this use of it as a "control" biased from the start. To place the focus more directly on comparing one news agency to another, I cropped the graphs from the article and recombined them to come up with the following visuals. It's rather stunning.


MSNBC: Obama-------McCain--------NBC: Obama-------McCain

Newspapers---------------Media Overall:McCain-----Obama

It's a shame they didn't include NPR, PBS and other government-subsidized media. It would have been even more informative.

Looking at the relative sizes of the various color boxes, you can see for yourself which news agency handled the candidates most similarly: FOX.

Obama's recent attempt to exclude Fox News is not just miscalculated hubris but an act of thuggery, and an attack on one of our country's most sacred freedoms.

It is not his only attack on our liberty-- just the one which most directly threatens the media. I am grateful they took the stance they did and rallied in defiance. It is tragic they do not see the other attacks as clearly.

Update 10/25/09: For those interested in reading the detailed methodology of the above study, see here and here.



Sue said...

I don't have TV, but it is sure interesting to hear about the war between the White House and Fox.

Maybe Obama will pull an "alien and sedition act" like Adams and put someone in jail....

Anonymous said...

The study referenced, the primary source of which is oddly missing, apparently looked only at coverage of presidential candidates. One doesn't know if the study, if it exists, examined traditional news shows only, that is, ones with an anchor person and reporters presenting factual stories, or if it also inlcuded non-news shows like O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck and others who have been documented telling blatant falsehoods. (The death panels and the birther movement come to mind.) I think a more interesting and more vital study would look at the percentage of truth presented on various networks over all.


HaynesBE said...

The primary source is NOT missing. I linked it twice!
I will add the direct link to their methodology. The selection of shows and other news sources is quite detailed and not easily summarized. They do discuss the difficulty of distinguishing between news shows and opinion/talk shows and how it was handled.
I like your idea of comparing truth---but who gets to decide what is true?

Anonymous said...

Why are far right wing arguments given to such incendiary language? Where you characterizing the Bush's exclusion of progressive media as thuggery? Have you looked at any studies that actually exmine the liberal/conservative bias of the media, or are you just accepting the right wing assertion that the media is biased?

I find it interesting that the Austrians in general, and Hayek in particular, couch their arguments for minimal government involvement in terms of fairness of opportunity, lack of favor of any one group, and a fear of loss of individual rights. Hayek also points out that the price we pay for freedom may sometimes be a less efficient and perhaps less innovative society due to the inherent inefficiencies in the capitalist system. Of course, he made his comments before the computer was invented by a government program. He also acknowledges that certain activities are best carried out by government, such as roads and education, and he even alluded to national healthcare in that he viewed activities that would help ensure a healthy work force as vital to the government mission of providing the environment for competitive capitalism to fourish.

And for all the eloquent (I've done a hack job of Hayek's beautiful renditiono f the argument fot capitalism and against collectivism, sorry.) discussion and argument that has been around for more than 60 years, the dominant argument on the right these days is simply 'I, me, me, mine.' It comes off as mere selfishness, which is not a virtue, but a base instinct.

And by the way, as far as wealth redistribution goes, it is going both ways. From the bottom to the top in the form of tax breaks for corporations, bailouts, and the like, and from the top to the bottom in the form of entitlement programs. The former concentrates wealth among the elite, the latter disperses it. Given the putocratic nature of our system these days (six lobbyists for every legislator in washington?) the former is more dangerous than the latter.

The situation on tax breaks is particularly troublesome. Following Hayek's approach, the common practice of states and municipalities to offer tax breaks to corporations for locating plants in their jurisdiction, benefits few and spreads the cost among many. The primary beneficiaries of the practice are the corporation and those who get jobs there. The cost is spread to all tax payers, even those who won't see a penny of beneift. This is upward wealth redistribution. Worse, the corporations have learned to play jurisdictions off against one another, and even have been known to move their plant when the tax holiday is over, or to extort an extension of the holiday by threat of leaving.


Anonymous said...

Read 'truth' as factual.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I read your statement that the original wasn't cited but 'I found this,' as indicating 'I couldn't find that study, but I found something else...

Additionally, one election cycle doesn't establish anything. Senator Frankin, in his book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" (prominently featuring Fox personalities on the cover; Fox sued by lost) showed that the media, in general, was biased against Gore in favor of Bush in 2000.

The fundamental problem with media in this country is that it has a horse in every race due to the profit motive.


HaynesBE said...

Media Bias Article #1
from The Public Interest Spring 2001
Media and business elites: still in conflict? - Statistical Data Included
FROM 1979 through 1980, S. Robert Lichter and the senior author of this article surveyed 13 American leadership groups. Two of these groups were businessmen chosen from various Fortune listings and journalists drawn from the country's most important media outlets at that time, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, the three commercial television networks (CBS, NBC, ABC), and public television (PBS). The goal was to compare the attitudes and outlooks of traditional business leaders with those of the elite media.

The results of the study demonstrated that leading journalists were skeptical of business and of traditional American institutions. [1] On economic and political issues, journalists were well to the left of business elites. Although most journalists were not socialists, they strongly sympathized with the left wing of the Democratic party. Thus 45 percent agreed that the American legal system favors the wealthy, more than twice the number of businessmen who held that point of view. And 68 percent of the journalists, compared with only 29 percent of the business leaders, believed that government should substantially reduce the income gap between rich and poor. On social issues, the pattern was much the same. Journalists were more permissive on such issues as abortion, homosexuality, and adultery than were businessmen. Finally, both groups eyed each other with suspicion, believing that the other exercised far more influence over American life than it should.

An analysis of news coverage and other evidence also demonstrated that, despite journalists' best efforts at objectivity, like academic scholars they tend to present the world in ways that reflect their own ideology. No pervasive and pronounced "bias" was found in reporting; rather, the analysis revealed patterns of significant ideological slippage in the treatment of complex and ambiguous issues, patterns which persisted over extensive periods of time. [2]

HaynesBE said...

Media Bias Article #2
From UCLA NewsRoom Dec. 2005
Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist
"While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

HaynesBE said...

Another article on Media Bias:
Professor's Study Shows Liberal Bias in News Media
By Robert B. Bluey Staff Writer
September 17, 2002

RE: Al Frankin's Book, is it based on research? My understanding of the book is that it is a satirical critique (which can be very worthwhile in its own right)but not based on rigorous research. I have only read reviews though and not the book itself.