For about 20 years, I have been teaching a course at
The claims of liberal bias in the mainstream media go back at least as far as Barry Goldwater's campaign for the presidential nomination in 1964. Perceiving repeated negative interpretations contained in "news reports" on his candidacy, he pleaded with major newspapers to put at least one reporter on his campaign who would just report what he said.
It is difficult to make a convincing case to many people regarding ideological bias in the mainstream media. This is because not all of such media are on the left:
Moreover, how does one conclusively prove the charges of left-wing bias or right-wing bias in textual analysis? For every instance cited, there can be a response that it is atypical or just anecdotal. Empirical measures of bias will always be subject to dispute.
What about opinion polls? Invariably, these show that the public perceives a leftward tilt on the part of major media. The response, of course, is that perception doesn't make for reality.
Let's try an indisputable example: In 2006, The Baltimore Sun, in a gubernatorial election year, published not one op-ed page sentence — much less an entire article — that supported incumbent Republican Gov.
When I mention this to conservatives, their expressions indicate, "Well, what do you expect?" Liberals say, "That cannot be."
In recent years, some liberals have argued that not only is a charge of left-leaning news media bias false but that there is, in fact, a prevailing conservative bias in the media. Prominent among the supporters of this view are journalists E.J. Dionne and Eric Alterman.
Mr. Dionne, a
Let's get one argument out of the way: Yes, there are conservative media and conservative individuals therein. They lack, by far, the influence of liberals on most major networks and major newspapers. Most of the major news media that maintain that they are disinterested (though Fox maintains the same) are biased in favor of liberal agendas and liberal spins.
The news coverage of candidate and then-President
Most mainstream media maintain a prevailing progressive bias in their selection of what to cover and how to cover it. This does not mean all media coverage is liberal, or even that all liberal outlets are always liberal. One of the fairest sources of news is
Regardless, the tendencies of most major news media trend left. There is no serious dispute.
Richard E. Vatz, a professor at Towson University, is author of "The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion." His email is email@example.com.