Media Bias


Here's more on conservative media bias, courtesy the New York Times.
(Ron Bailey noted the bellyaching about right-wing media a few weeks ago.)

And then there's this piece in the new issue of The American Prospect which asks, "Why is the media—assumed by many to start with a liberal bias—applying the liberal label so readily to [incoming House Democratic leader Nancy] Pelosi but not the conservative tag to [incoming House Republican leader Tom] DeLay?"

The piece blames the supposed uneven treatment on "journalists who treat 'liberal' as a dirty word, the rise of the conservative media and even an element of sexism."

Now I don't have a dog in this fight. Like Ron, I think the real problem is that libertarian ideas rarely get any shake, let alone a fair one. But the allegation that the major media are tougher on liberals like Pelosi than on conservatives like DeLay is silly.

Here's some of the research on which the Prospect piece is based:

"A recent LexisNexis search revealed that 'Nancy Pelosi' and 'liberal' yielded more than 1,000 documents… A LexisNexis search of 'Tom DeLay' and 'conservative' returned only 534 documents from the last 90 days."

Whatever. I just did a LexisNexis search which revealed that "Nancy Pelosi" and "conservative" yielded more than 1,000 documents for the last 90 days. A search on "Tom Delay" and "liberal" produces 443. What the hell does this mean? Nothing, except that Nancy Pelosi is getting more press than Tom Delay. Sure enough, "Nancy Pelosi" alone gets 522 results over the past month compared to 255 for "Tom DeLay." And liberals are complaining? More telling: Of the 522 results for Pelosi, 151 (29%) include the word "liberal." Of the 255 results for DeLay, 112 (44%) include the word "conservative."

And systematic anti-Pelosi bias is hard to find looking through a sampling of the actual articles that turn up in the search on "Nancy Pelosi" and "liberal." Many of the results are either commentary pieces or transcripts from yak shows that featured pundits on the left and the right.

A December 7 AP story reads in part: "Democrats moved to their left in selecting liberal Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to succeed Dick Gephardt of Missouri. Republicans mirrored that by inching further right in picking Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas to succeed retiring Rep. Dick Armey of Texas as majority leader."

And from a November 14 AP story: "Democrats settled on the 62-year-old liberal to succeed Dick Gephardt of Missouri… As Democratic leader, Pelosi is certain to be at odds with the hard-driving conservative Tom DeLay, the current Republican whip and newly elected majority leader, succeeding fellow Texan Dick Armey, who is retiring."

Enough of these dumb labels. By the way, a Lexis search on "libertarian" returns more than 1,000 documents for the past 90 days. That's not bad. Maybe I should stop complaining too.