How biased is the media?

The short answer is very.

I am giving a paper on this at PCAACA (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association).

Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin said Friday:

“The example that I use, at the end of the campaign, was the two profiles that The New York Times ran of the potential first ladies,” Halperin said. “The story about Cindy McCain was vicious. It looked for every negative thing they could find about her and it case her in an extraordinarily negative light. It didn’t talk about her work, for instance, as a mother for her children, and they cherry-picked every negative thing that’s ever been written about her.”

The story about Michelle Obama, by contrast, was “like a front-page endorsement of what a great person Michelle Obama is,” according to Halperin.

John Ziegler did a poll on what Obama voters knew about the election.

See How Obama Got Elected for more information and furor.

ABC News had this to say on 24 October 2008:

But in the last few days, even Democrats, who have been gloating over the pass — no, make that shameless support — they’ve gotten from the press, are starting to get uncomfortable as they realize that no one wins in the long run when we don’t have a free and fair press.

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side — or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del.

If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography.

That isn’t Sen. Obama’s fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media’s fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so.

Warner Todd Huston wrote on 29 September 2008:

In the crossword puzzles in The New York Times are biased in favor of Obama and Biden finds David Levinson Wilk in Politico. Wilk did a little research to see how many times McCain has been an answer in the NYT puzzle since 2005. He came up with zero entries. When he looked for Obama he found the name “regularly appeared” in the puzzle. Does this prove that the Times is “150 percent in the tank” for Obama…?

Pew Research has graphs on the media bias.

Russians to Monitor US Elections

Russia’s Central Elections Committee has also assigned its Centre for the Study of Election Technology to review the U. S. election campaign.

A preliminary report prepared by the group, after studying U. S. media coverage on the NBC, CBS and ABC television networks since September, has concluded Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, has a “hidden advantage.”

A preliminary report obtained by the Russian daily online newspaper Kommersant concludes the U. S. television networks devoted more time to Republican candidate John McCain, but “the material that makes up that time difference can be assessed as negative.”

Laura at Our Strange Life did a survey of the NY Times.

[for Obama] Recap:::: Positive: 18.23……….Negative: 2.22……………Net: +16.01

[for McCain] Recap:::: Positive: 2.16……….Negative: 11.3……………Net: -9.14

CONCLUSIONS: Obama’s number was +16.01 and McCain’s: -9.14.

This equals net of Obama + 25.15

The media is biased.

So are those who watch the media.

News Audiences More Democratic

The general public has become more Democratic since 2006, and this is reflected in the audiences for leading TV news outlets. The audiences for CNN and MSNBC, which were heavily Democratic two years ago, have become even more so: fully 51% of CNN’s regular viewers are Democrats while only 18% are Republicans. MSNBC’s audience makeup is similar – 45% of regular viewers of MSNBC are Democrats, 18% are Republicans.

The regular audience for nightly network news also is now about two-to-one Democratic (45% vs. 22% Republican). In 2006, 40% of the regular viewers of nightly network news were Democrats compared with 28% who were Republicans.

The regular audience for the Fox News Channel continues to include more Republicans than Democrats. Currently, 39% of regular Fox News viewers are Republicans while 33% are Democrats; in 2006, the margin was 38% to 31%. (15)

There is a table in the original too.

from the complete report
The original article is here.

What is influencing American politics?

The Frontier, says William Tucker in The American Spectator.

In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner published a seminal essay in which he argued that having an open frontier on our westward boundary had been a decisive influence in shaping the American character. The frontier experience had leveled the class traditions from Europe, proffered opportunity to the common individual, and created a spirit of independence that had constantly posed a challenge to entrenched Eastern elites. Populist movements that had continually reinvigorated American politics had all arisen on the frontier.

It is no accident that this year the two Republican candidates come from thinly populated Western frontier states. Sarah Palin perfectly embodies this frontier spirit and both candidates are considered “mavericks,” earning their spurs by taking on entrenched interests. Obama, on the other hand — though he may not realize it — draws his strongest support from Eastern colleges and established hierarchical institutions. He is the candidate of the non-profit sector, that odd hybrid of a capitalist society in which educated people try to claim money from profit-making institutions and “turn it to good use,” usually following their own proclivities.

He discusses many other influences, including race and money.

It is an interesting and, perhaps, foundational read.

Paper Accepted! To PCAACA

I had a proposal for PCAACA’s “Politics in a Mediated World” accepted. It turns out it was accepted during Ike, but I didn’t realize it. Whoo hoo!

My proposal reads (pretty much) as follows (with liberties taken with paragraphs for more bloggable readability): Fair and Balanced?
An Analysis of Pre-convention Presidential Campaign Coverage presents itself as a neutral news source, using slogans such as “fair and balanced” and “We report. You decide.” However, many criticize Fox saying it has a clear right-leaning bias (Slate Magazine, Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post,

Based on a quick perusal of high-traffic sources, it would seem that is biased. However, the anecdotal evidence is insufficient to determine whether or not exhibits a political bias in its reporting.

A rhetorical analysis of four days’ postings from inspected for bias in the coverage of the presidential candidates gives an intriguing perspective. The analysis of digital rhetoric was limited to stories about and pictures of the two major party candidates taken from links on the homepage, the politics front page, and the election coverage main page.

The number of pictures of the two presidential candidates were examined, providing an analysis of bias in visual rhetoric (22 to 14). A simple count of stories, number per candidate, provided a second means of examining bias (35 to 18 with 6 about both).

These straightforward statistics do not take into account negative headlines or unflattering pictures, so to minimize possible skewing, a rhetorical examination of headlines and headline verbs was instigated. Rankings for connotation were determined by trained raters.

Unsurprisingly is biased, but it is not quite as unambiguous as many suppose.

What someone learned from this election:

Big Arm Woman at Tightly Wound:

1. The media is sexist. Well actually this one wasn’t a news flash. I mean, I’m not a big HRC fan, but come on–if you’re gonna criticize a woman for having birthing hips on the campaign trail, then I demand equal time for some analysis of the Biden Comb Over. Because really, that thing is scary.

There are more!