Tim Groseclose's New Book on Liberal Media Bias

My good friend and co-author Tim Groseclose has a new book out entitled Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind. As the title suggests, it has a definite conservative slant. It is not, however, a right-wing rant by any means. Rather, it is a carefully researched and amusingly written book by a highly regarded academic.

I’m bored to death by politics. So I didn’t expect to enjoy Groseclose’s book, but I really did. I’m always surprised when an academic can write for a general audience, but Groseclose definitely has that gift.

As I said in my blurb for his book, liberals will not like what Groseclose has to say, but that is all the more reason why liberals should read his book.


JohnS

As someone who is not from the US but regularly consumes mainstream american media, I am always shocked when I see someone accusing it of being left-wing biased.

Deron

Not sure why liberals should care what the book says, but I'm anxious to read it.

Given a spectrum from liberal to conservative "the media" is going to be off center. It's not something for liberals or conservatives to feel burdened by, recognize it perhaps, but not worry over it.

The conclusion, as the title suggests, that the bias distorts our thinking is a bit rich. Unless, one has the biased opinion that there's a view point that's free of distortions.

Mike B

Anything that makes you consider things that run contrary to you're existing world view is bound to alter how you think.

Mike B

The difference between Right Wing and Left Wing media bias is that the Left Wing prosecutes a story to learn the truth, wherein the Right Wing already knows the truth and creates stories to back it up. When I hear the Left Wing media put forth a story that is bias it is usually due to lazy reporting that fails to ask the right questions or makes certain assumptions. When I hear the Right Wing media put forth a story that is bias it is little more than made up or distorted propaganda. Nobody is perfect, but I'll go with soft ignorant bias over hard malicious bias any day of the week.

What is important is a commitment to quality journalism and to accurately reflect reality. The "mainstream" media has this, Fox News and its ilk do not. No one media entity will ever be bias free, but the solution is not to negate perceived bias with intentional bias. Denying reality is not an option, it only causes more pain in the end so if everyone simply looks to gather the facts and present them with as little distortion as possible reality will prevail as we will all be better for it.

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rationalrevolution

Oh lord. Any book that starts out by saying that "without liberal media bias" the average American would hold the views of Ben Stein and Bill O'Reilly is just plain nonsense.

Seriously, you're touting a book that states in the introduction that without "liberal media bias" all of America would be like Texas, Kansas and South Dakota, as well as Orange County California, and that, "to the liberal elite, such places are a nightmare. They are family friendly, largely suburban, and a large fraction of the population go to church on Sundays." And then he goes on to "quote" "someone" from Hollywood (cause ya know that Hollywood is really representative of "liberals" after all) who complains about Orange County. Talk about ivory towers....

Seriously, this is the book you want to throw your recommendation behind? Cause we all know that "liberals" hate families right, that's a real nightmare. I guess I should have ensured my kids were aborted.

So he then goes on to describe how he invented some "slant quotient", and according to his fabricated metric, EVERY SINGLE NEWS OUTLET, EXCEPT FOUR, has a "liberal" bias.

LOL, this is laughable comedy.

If it weren't for the liberal media, John McCain would have defeated Obama he claims! LOL

In our current world, of massive liberal bias, FOX News and the Washington Times "SEEM" conservative, but they really aren't, they are really centrist and objective. If we could eliminate "liberal media bias" these organizations would be seen as the objective centrists they are! LOL

Give me a break, I can't believe anyone would endorse this book....

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Pat

To answer JohnS, 2 points:

First, The media gives plenty of airplay to liberal/democratic politicians who claim to know the true motives of their conservative counterparts and very little if any to the conservative or republican or libertarians.

For example, ask any neutral observer why conservatives favor tax cuts, and my guess is that they'll usually answer "because they're in bed with big business (or the insurance companies or the military industrial complex, etc.)". But the truth is, they believe that lower taxes will increase total revenue (the rising tide which lifts all boats).

Second, typically, liberal positions (not by design, I'm not a conspiracy theorist) tend to be more easily encapsulated into the oft maligned sound bite. "There's a poor person....give him money from a wealthy person". Neat, simple and quick. The lessons taught us by B.F. Skinner and J.K. Galbraith won't make for compelling television, and we need to go to commercial.

Full disclosure: I have NOT read the book. I'm going straight to amazon to order it as soon as this posts!

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JohnS

For the first point, I guess one could make a study checking the amount of time given to conservative/liberal politicians in various media outlets. There would be a number of problems with such an approach, but do you have any study or similar to back up this statement? It sounds very much like a personal anectode otherwise.

I also assume that when you say "neutral observer", you mean "average observer", or something, because it was clearly not a neutral observer in your example. Also, I highly doubt that your point is true - most americans are in favor of low taxes.

I am also not convinced by your second point, that liberal positions are easier to convey. "Tax cuts means more money for you!" also seems like an easy sell, and I'm sure most issues out there are also easy to formulate one way or another.

But more importantly, whether or not it's easy to sell opinions doesn't matter - it's what media actually does which means that they're biased or not. This is really an irrelevant argument, even if it's true.

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rationalrevolution

Studies like this have been done. Here is one example that is done on newspapers:

http://mediamatters.org/reports/oped/

Here is another one that was done on Sunday political talk shows:

http://mediamatters.org/reports/200602140002

Clancy

Whether or not it makes Liberals angry doesn’t say much about it. A well-reasoned rational argument, backed up by irrefutable data that forced me to rethink my entire political philosophy or be forced into irrational denial would make me angry. But a poorly reasoned, poorly written rant by a curmudgeony right-wing hack filled with glaring inaccuracies would also make me angry.

Also, let’s remember that “un-biased” does not necessarily mean “honest” or “factually correct.” Someone giving evolution and intelligent design equal time is being “un-biased.” Someone talking about evolution and ignoring intelligent design is being “factually correct.”

Joshua Northey

It has a pretty strong "left-wing bias" on some economic/social issues where there is legitimate debate. On other economic/social issues the "left-wing bias" is simply its attempt to portray the truth accurately. A unimpressive as a lot of reporting is and as shallow as reporters can be, they are still better educated then the public at large, and better educated people tend to be more "left-wing".

Since the modern political system grew up in the mid 1800s the "left-wing" has always been on the side of history, progressive arguments eventually prevail while the conservatives fight a regard action which has temporary successes, but in the long term inevitably retreats.

The American press is downright jingoistic on foreign policy/nationalism, with American media chronically showing Americans the image of themselves they want to see, being unrelentingly patriotic, and perfectly willing to support offensive warmongering. On some economic issues the media has a pretty "right-wing pro-big business bias". You never see major American media asking hard questions of some basic tenets of our economic system.

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cackalacka

Wow, someone through a rock through the Overton Window.

Jennifer Rubin? Judith Miller? et alia?

Just because most folks find movement conservatism abhorrent, does not make them liberal.

The press has one primary position: to be profitable and deferential to their owners. Full stop.

Vipach

Agreed with Clancy. If the truth favors liberal arguments, and the media report the truth, does that make them biased? Giving both sides equal time is bad reporting if one side of the argument is factually wrong.

Louise

Even as a liberal (quite liberal, even, maybe..), I'm interested in reading another perspective - hate to say it, but the outlets I enjoy are definitely slanted.

that's the point, right?

What sites out there do you find that give an unslanted (or relatively so) perspective?

One of my favorite writers is John Thorpe - and I agree with much of what he has to say (http://bit.ly/qW92AF ) but I recognize the slant.

kingtoots

Dear Dr. Levitt,

http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/blog/2005/12/the_problems_wi.html