Daily Kos: The 'Myth' of Liberal Media Bias Is 'Killing Journalism'

At the Daily Kos, Mark E. Andersen stumbled through an attack on the “myth of liberal bias in the media,” propagated by the Media Research Center. This “myth” only “makes our nation weaker and creates a nation of dunces—which is just what the right wants.”

The MRC is apparently one factor in “what's killing journalism” in America, because it thinks that surveys showing journalists vote for liberals and journalists tell pollsters they are liberals might be considered evidence of a liberal tilt:

The driving force behind the false equivalency in reporting is the myth that there is a liberal bias in the media.... mainstream media outlets have gone out of their way not to be accused of having a liberal bias (Gillmor, 2010). Where did the myth of liberal bias in the media come from?

The answer to that question lies within a right-wing think tank called The Media Research Center that has been pushing the liberal bias in the media meme for over twenty years. The Media Research Center has done a series of studies that they say proves that there is a liberal bias in the mainstream media. To many these studies seem reasonable; however, when one dissects them we can see that the analysis put forth by the Media Research Center is skewed in a way that will prove their point of liberal bias in the media regardless of what the facts actually are.

If this seems like a term paper, that's because it was: this is a section of Andersen's masters-degree thesis at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he remembers all the cruel media treatment of what he calls "The Wisconsin Uprising." Apparently, the local and national media gave far too much attention to the claims of conservative Wisconsin Gov. Scott "Hosni Mubarak" Walker. That's certainly not our research on that scene. While the national media raged against anti-Obama signs at Tea Party rallies, they let anti-Walker protesters like Andersen smear Walker as a Nazi or an Arab dictator.

Andersen seems to refer to a series of surveys we have called “Media Bias Basics.” Then he utterly misses the point, and farcically implies that this is the only research MRC does:

The final and fatal flaw with these studies from the Media Research Center is that not once do they actually address what news is being reported. Of course the public recognizes the bias. The right has pushed this meme for over 20 years. It has been repeated so many times that people just assume it is true without regard to the facts. As for whether a journalist votes Democratic or Republican or whether they say they are liberal or conservative has no bearing on the reporting of the news. All of the studies by the right leave out the most important fact; what bias is actually in the news as reported?

The answer is that systematic research has found no consistent partisan or ideological favoritism in news content despite frequent complaints of biases (Lee, 2005).

Our "Basics" page merely sets the stage for analyzing media content. We've never pretended that was the end of an argument, but only an introduction to the subject. If journalists say they are liberal and vote liberal, then perhaps that creates the impression that this liberalism will find its way into the way news is presented. But Andersen and his radical-left "uprisers" believe the MRC is a tool of the corporate plutocracy trying to ruin all that's good about the arrival of American socialism:

To make the right-wing agenda palatable to the general public think tanks like the Media Research Center were created to put forth the idea of the “liberal media elite” (McChesney, 2004), with the sole purpose of re-framing the mainstream media in a way that it could not be trusted or relied upon to tell the truth.

All of the issues discussed above have hobbled mainstream media in reporting on news that impacts us personally and as a country. It makes our nation weaker and creates a nation of dunces—which is just what the right wants. Because as Noam Chomsky said, “you don’t allow the bewildered herd to become participants in action. They’ll just cause trouble” (Chomsky, 2002, p. 18), and the last thing the right wants is trouble from the bewildered herd.

After reading this article, "bewildered" does sound like a good description of the Daily Kos.

Tim Graham's picture