Is there Media Bias?

November 1, 2008 10:31 – 10:31

A study says “yes”:

My own view of this is that it’s due to the fact that there is more positive to cover regarding Obama than there is to cover about McCain. The percentages reflect reality–not bias.

Comments made by sources, voters, reporters and anchors that aired on ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts over the past two months reflected positively on Obama in 65 percent of cases, compared to 31 percent of cases with regards to McCain, according to the Center for Media and Public Affairs.


The center analyzed 979 separate news stories shown between Aug. 23 and Oct. 24, and excluded evaluations based on the campaign horse race, including mention of how the candidates were doing in polls. For instance, when a voter was interviewed on CBS Oct. 14 saying he thought Obama brought a freshness to Washington, that was chalked up as a pro-Obama comment.

When NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported Oct. 1 that some conservatives say that Sarah Palin is not ready for prime-time, that’s marked in the negative column for McCain.

You can cherry-pick stories so that 50% of what you report favors Obama and 50% favors McCain. But, what if that does not reflect reality? Suppose a ship sinks, and 900 people drown while 100 survive.

If you report that 10 survived and 10 died, is that balance? Or, does it skew reality by creating the impression that there’s just as much good news as there is bad?

Fox claims to be Fair and Balance because it carefully cherry-picks and counts its stories and the numbers of liberal and conservative commentators. This creates the illusion that both sides are equally balanced. But, plucking the one lone wildflower and one clump of crabgrass from an acre of weeds and saying “Look at what’s growing in my garden!” does not change the fact that what you really have is an acre of weeds with one stray wildflower. As a result of its approach, Fox ends up with some pretty strange stories in its collection. Also… it doesn’t stop there, because the “bad” stories about Obama are much worse than the “bad” stories about McCain, on average. And the good stories are not equally good… just as Fox’s so-called “liberals” aren’t exactly the sharpest tools in the shed, while their conservatives generally are best of breed.

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