Chi.Trib: Labeling One Group 'Conservative' But Not IDing the Liberal One

We have here a classic case of liberal bias in the Old Media. It isn't as dramatic as may others that we have seen since The One came onto the national scene, but it is the sort of bias that has been endemic in the Old Media for a very long time. In a February 1 story in the Chicago Tribune, we find the old trick of naming a think tank as a source, but not mentioning that it is a liberal think tank, yet also citing a second group that is, however, labeled as a "conservative" think tank.

This sort of bias is very common in the Old Media. How it works is that the liberal think tank is cited as a source for some statistic or claim but that think tank is not labeled as a liberal group. This way the reader sees the liberal group's advice or stats as unbiased or straight. Then the media will give a counter claim by the conservative think tank. But the conservative group is labeled as a conservative think tank so that the reader is led to be wary of that group's stats or advice because they are biased.

In this way, the Old Media outlet in question can claim they've been "balanced" and were giving "both sides" of the story while still leaning the story to the left and attempting to discredit the right. It's a typical smoke screen of leftward bias that is an old stand by for the liberal media establishment.

The story was all about federal bailouts for the state of Illinois and explores where federal money should be used in the state. Here is where they mention the first think tank, the liberal one: (my bold)

Illinois can expect at least $22.3 billion from the stimulus package passed by the U.S. House last week, including tax breaks, government aid, infrastructure spending and new assistance for everything from school renovations to home weatherization for low-income families, according to the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank closely allied with the Obama administration. The estimate covers only individual tax breaks and spending allocated by formula, about two-thirds of the total funds in the $819 billion stimulus approved by the House. The Senate is considering a similar bill.

Notice that the Center for American Progress, a group well known for its liberal leanings, was not labeled a liberal think tank. Also notice the Tribune tried to help legitimize the Center for American Progress further by telling the reader that it is "closely allied" with popular president Obama!

Then comes the "balance" by citing the conservative group:

But there's another number that conservative critics would like voters to focus on: the increased debt load that will be taken on by the country—$35 billion for Illinois, if the increase in the national debt is considered to be evenly distributed around the country on the basis of population, according to the conservative Cato Institute.

Revealing, isn't it? The Center for American Progress is never labeled as the far, far left group that it is, but Cato is twice in the same paragraph labeled as "conservative."

So, in this case, the Center for American Progress is given the benefit if its liberal ideology left unsaid AND was linked to a popular president to further shore up how trustworthy it is, yet the Cato Institute was labeled as a "conservative" group. In this way the reader can understand that Cato is biased to the right as stated but CAP is not as its ideology is left out of the story.

This one is a classic Old Media trick, fortunately we are here to identify it as such.

(H/T NewsBuster reader Thomas Matheson)

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Media Bias Debate Labeling Bias by Omission Chicago Tribune Journalistic Issues