Are Perceptions of Newsworthiness Contaminated by a Political Usefulness Bias?

Ha! Science now has a non-shocking answer that question: Yes, of course, they are.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Do individuals tend to rate a story as more "newsworthy" if it backs up their side of a controversial issue? UC-San Diego's Hal Pashler and I thought such a bias was likely. But to assess this question more objectively, we created six pairs of hypothetical news stories, each describing an event that seemed likely to encourage people to adopt attitudes on the opposite side of a particular controversial issue (e.g. affirmative action and gay marriage). Here's an example of one of the pairs:

*A story about a hearing held by the police board in your city at which citizens expressed concern that police tactics used in the African-American community are counterproductive.

*A story reporting an 18% increase in robberies over the last 5 years in the downtown area of your city.

In total, 569 subjects were asked to evaluate the importance of these stories (and a number of "filler" stories) "to the readership of a general-circulation newspaper." They were specifically asked to disregard how interesting they themselves happened to find the event. After rating the stories, they were asked to indicate their own personal attitudes to the underlying six issues.

How did it turn out? You can guess, can't you? For all six issues, subjects rated stories as possessing greater intrinsic newsworthiness when they offered ammunition for "their side" of a controversy.

The article is entitled "Perceptions of Newsworthiness Are Contaminated by a Political Usefulness Bias," and it was published a week or two ago in Royal Society Open Science.

Is the point obvious? Evidently not to everybody. When it is pointed out that news staffs at newspapers across the country tend to be monolithically left of center, the response is often that this is not a problem, since the job of a news reporter is simply to report the truth, and truth is just truth. Well, that's not quite true … news reporters have to decide what stories are newsworthy (and what facts within stories are newsworthy).

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  1. “. . . tend to be monolithically left of center. . . .”

    Isn’t that the same as saying kinda pregnant?

    Something is either monolithic or it isn’t.

    It can’t ‘tend’ to be monolithic.

    Additionally, the number (or percentage) of left- or right-leaning news organizations didn’t matter in this study.

    It was about readers’ perceptions.

    1. Isn’t that the same as saying kinda pregnant?

      Something is either monolithic or it isn’t.

      It can’t ‘tend’ to be monolithic.

      No, it’s true, a single organization cannot “tend to be monolithic”, but a group of organizations, should it be the case that a majority of them are in fact monolithic, and most of the rest are working their way towards becoming monolithic, it would certainly be perfectly reasonable to speak of the group of organizations as tending towards being monolithic.

      Additionally, the number (or percentage) of left- or right-leaning news organizations didn’t matter in this study.

      It was about readers’ perceptions.

      I believe his point was that newspapermen are “readers”, too. And so they are likely to select articles for publication in accordance with their own bias as to what is considered “newsworthy”.

      1. Actually the , “. . . current study examined an unselected sample of US adults, instructing them to rate the
        importance of hypothetical news stories as if they were the editor of a city newspaper.”

        Not sure what an ‘unselected sample of US adults’ is (does that mean randomly chosen?), but it seems like they asked non-editors to act like an editor.

        Doesn’t seem to very scientific.

        One would hope that professional editors employ a few more filters than just personal bias.

        1. “One would hope that professional editors employ a few more filters than just personal bias.”

          That is a hope that is doomed to disappointment.

          1. Once you cease to assume professionalism and good faith in other people, you have a lot of room to pick and choose only those who agree with you as upstanding enough to believe.

            1. Leaving aside reasons why an initial assumption of professionalism and good faith may have suffered from evidence to the contrary.

              1. That works fine for individuals; does not work so well when you generalize to an entire institution, for the reason I noted above.

        2. They were specifically asked to disregard how interesting they themselves happened to find the event.

          The study asked its particpants to “employ a few more filters than just personal bias”. Yes, they weren’t professional editors, and the study would have been more interesting if they had been. But I’d guess that most people think editors are properly biased, or wrongly biased, but not unbiased; so the study is mostly a waste of time.

  2. Although I don’t doubt that the substance of what Professor Herriot describes is true, it also seems to me that the idea that people have interests, and find things in line with their interests more interesting than things that aren’t, is not merely unremarkable, it is almost a tautology.

    So to me, it is describing this unremarkable fact about human nature in terms like “bias,” “contamination,” etc. that’s remarkable. Why is the unremarkable fact that people are limited and imperfect, their viewpoints connected to their experiences and neither supremely omniscient nor supremely neutral, so horrifying?

    After all, from my point of view, political theory would be a lot more useful if it was more about how imperfect people can form an imperfect government, mostly keeping the peace and not doing too many travesties of justice to each other, rather than how perfect people can form a perfect one.

    1. “… it also seems to me that the idea that people have interests, and find things in line with their interests more interesting than things that aren’t, is not merely unremarkable, it is almost a tautology.”

      There’s an important difference between being uninterested in a topic generally vs finding information not newsworthy when it tends to make your side look bad and to lend support to your political opponents. So, conservatives found a hypothetical story about increased crime to be newsworthy and progressives did not. But what if the story was about a *decrease* in crime? Same general topic matter, but in that case, the newsworthiness ratings would likely have been reversed.

  3. The news I breathlessly await is the outcome of the Paul Manafort trial. From the get-go I have viewed Manafort as the male, Republican version of Hillary C.

    If Manafort were Hillary C., he would never had to endure more than a pro-forma investigation. Heck, if he were Tony Podesta or Hunter Biden or maybe a thousand otherant Hillary associates any potential witness against him would have been so assured of immunity out of the gate there would have been no real pressure at all on those witnesses to be forthcoming (that is assuming that the prosecutors would even ask them tough questions.)

    Paul was stuck being the Trump associate Manafort. Witnesses against him were not offered deals until they had been repeatedly threatened with life-changing legal action against themselves on anything that could be dredged up.

    Were Paul Manafort only Hillary C. he could don his ostrich coat and dance on the top of the world’s glass ceilings. It would not matter a whit if every business arrangement he had ever done was smothered in the appearance of impropriety. It wouldn’t matter how many Russian speakers he had talked to, even done business or solicited contributions from.

    The heavily Dem Media monopoly doesn’t even have to love you. They just have to need you.

    The tragedy for democracy is how willing prosecutors and others in the federal bureaucracies are willing, even eager, to dance to whatever tune they think anticipate the national media is going to whistle.

    1. The news I breathlessly await is the outcome of the Paul Manafort trial. From the get-go I have viewed Manafort as the male, Republican version of Hillary C.

      How is your strange damaged obsession with Hillary Clinton even remotely relevant to this article?

      1. The mainstream national media Democrat propaganda network tried to shove this corrupt criminal (Hillary) down our throats after decades of covering for her. They failed. Now they are trying with all the intensity and madness-driven sincerity they can muster to undo the result of a monumental election.

        If this article is not about that horrendous reality, why both to write it?

        An old Russian saying: “Paper accepts any writing.”

        Glowing screens are even more permissive.

      2. Furthermore, Bill and Hillary did indeed have their own special prosecutor who mercilessly twisted arms until they got him! They got the president! He lied about sex with an intern! Impeach!

        Mercifully he was not removed from office because that would have just exposed the whole shenanigans as a partisan coup attempt.

        Keep this all in mind now that the shoe is on the other foot and, like clockwork, almost everyone swaps situational ethics. The Republicans can hardly complain about a witch hunt.

        1. Partisan coup attempt, check; crime for lying under oath that would get you and me a felony conviction; also check.

          One can’t help but think that if Bill Clinton has just admitted to it that there never would have actually been a crime taking place. We all knew he was banging chicks on the side from the primary, so it makes me wonder why it was so hard to admit.

          I’m keeping an open mind about actual Trump crimes, I’m sure there are, as billionaire real estate moguls usually have to grease the skids.

        2. ” He lied about sex with an intern! Impeach!”

          Under oath, in a trial where it was legally relevant. Lying under oath about relevant matters pretty much has to be a crime, or else you can’t run a legal system.

          But, of course, that wasn’t the only charge available to bring against him. It was just what was left after the House managers caved in the face of Clinton’s “Ellen Rometsch” defense, and threw out most of the available counts.

    2. ” From the get-go I have viewed Manafort as the male, Republican version of Hillary C.”

      You mean he’s got a public record of corruption dating back decades? Nope, sorry, Hillary stands alone among living corrupt politicians.

      Manafort is a typical D.C. player; If you subjected half of the people working at his level in Washington to the same level of scrutiny, you could put them away for life. But he’s not in Hillary’s league.

      1. This is a good echo-chamber debate.

        ‘Manifort did nothing wrong!’
        ‘Manifort is like Hillary, and therefore maximally evil!’

        Enjoy, you two.

        1. Good Lord, did you even both reading what I wrote? How does “You could put them away for life” translate into “did nothing wrong”?

          Nor is Hillary anything like “maximally” evil; I doubt she’s got it in her to be a Jeffery Dalmer, let along a Pol Pot or Stalin. She’s just extremely corrupt, and good at obstructing justice.

          Manafort is corrupt, but more middle of scale corrupt, and not at all practiced at obstruction, because he’s stuck to the sort of corruption D.C. normally lets slide. He’d be in no trouble at all if he weren’t a convenient stepping stone to getting at Trump.

          But that doesn’t make him remotely innocent.

          1. Yeah, I call it absolving someone when you say ‘he’s the same as literally everyone else in his (legal) business.
            When you say everyone could be in jail, that’s another way of saying no one should be, no?

            Glad you’re not going full-Q with Hillary literally eating children, hehe.

            But you continue to hit the superlatives pretty amusingly hard when it comes to her. Eh, I’ll probably be the same in 20 years with this guy.

            1. Now half is literally everyone?

              His business might be legal, but that doesn’t mean most people in it conduct it legally. Or else Podesta wouldn’t have needed to be immunized to be a witness against Manafort.

              D.C. Makes Mos Eisley look clean. Hillary makes DC look clean. That’s my view.

              1. Do you think my position is any different if it’s changed to
                ‘when you say half the population should be in jail, that’s a another way of saying no one should be.’

                Getting immunity is just good policy even if you’re innocent – you know that.

                DC has lots of issues, some inevitable some avoidable, but people positing superlative corruption are just unthinking drama queens pushing an agenda that ignores US history and comparisons to most of the rest of the world and oftentimes actual evidence.

                Your brand is crisis. Too big a crisis to actually try and fix, but big enough to blame the swamp and deep state whenever you don’t like something.

                1. I don’t think half “the population” should be in jail. Half the people in Manafort’s circle? Maybe half of THAT population.

                  The problem here, I think, is that you keep stripping off my qualifiers, and then complaining that I’m not qualifying things enough. Half becomes literally everyone. “Half the people working at his level in Washington” becomes “half the population”.

                  If you have to change what somebody says to criticize it, maybe your case against what they’re saying is weak?

                  1. I don’t see a material difference between half and everyone in terms of the normalization of the deviance.

                    But now you’ve changed from ‘typical D.C. player’ to ‘Manifort’s circle.’ I find that a significant qualification.

                    On this site, we all seem to have some trouble with reading our own partisan desires into what others have said. You less than some, I will note. I dunno how my initial rate is, but I try to at least circle back and address such criticism.

      2. “Hillary stands alone among living corrupt politicians.”

        In hysteria against her? Yes.

        A “typical D.C. player” doesn’t have the level of illegality and corruption that Manafort has, at least in regard to his foreign connections, which is a basic issue at hand.

        But, you know, “both sides do it” but my guy is special … except when I don’t want him to be, then he’s boring. Anyway, “half of the people” weren’t big guys in the campaign of the guy now in the White House.

        Sorta matters.

        1. “In hysteria against her? Yes.”

          And there you have a good deal of why Trump is President today. Because Democrats have worked themselves into a place where they couldn’t admit what sort of person they were handing their nomination to, because admitting it would have been admitting that Republicans are capable of having legitimate complaints about a Democrat.

          1. Conversely, the right has worked themselves into a state where they smell all their self-generated smoke and are sure there’s a fire around every single Democrat alive, but a bit more towards Hillary.

            As I’ve said before, we’re in a crisis of epistemology, and I dunno how you reason your way outta that one.

          2. Hillary Clinton surely isn’t above reproach but if “legitimate complaints about” her include the murder of Vince Foster, that’s hysteria. Where did she touch you?

            1. So, simple question: Do you believe she was a natural at cattle futures trading? Turned a thousand dollars into a hundred thousand in a matter of 10 months, and then stopped on a dime, instead of continuing another half a year and being set for life?

              Or was it money laundering via the broker, who was determined to have laundered money to other clients? And she stopped trading because it was only $100k being laundered to her, and she’d have lost her shirt if she’d continued beyond that point?

              This was about 10 years before she ever saw the inside of the White House, mind you.

              1. I believe you need proof of what you believe about cattle futures, but don’t have it.
                Despite every bit of institutional power in the GOP apparatus taking a haaard look at that and turning up only the inadequate guilt-by-association not even circumstantial case you just made.

                Maybe there was illegality; it wouldn’t surprise me. But the burden is on you, and from the amount you’re pounding the table, you don’t seem to have met it.

                Luckily for you, despite your failed case your side won in all practical senses of the word, and now it’s all just fun. Unless you’re Michael Cook and it burns you up at night to this day…

              2. The innocent explanation is she got lucky because her friend James Blair was given favorable trading terms by Refco, and she got out to avoid risk after she had her kid. She’d lost her shirt on the trade, going down >$100K before going back up. That would make me nervous, too.

                What makes you think it was money laundering?

                1. Her broker was later suspended for various trading violations? The transactions were structured to not leave detailed records? She just abruptly stopped while making money hand over fist? The whole thing looks just like a known money laundering technique that was popular at the time?

                  This is a test: if you can’t see money laundering when it’s right in your face, you’re hopeless.

                  1. A bunch of prosecutors also couldn’t. Neither could Republican Congressional investigators.

                    Your appeal to incredulity shows the emptiness of your actual case.

                    1. Being able to prove it in a court of law is a higher bar, you should know that.

                    2. I do know better, and if I’d said that I’d be wrong. Luckily I did not.

                      1) I’m not arguing Hillary is innocent, I’m arguing Brett didn’t make his case.

                      1) Though in general if you’re going to argue someone is guilty of crimes some sort of result after endless investigations is required.

                      2) Brett’s main argument is hand-waiving followed by ‘if you don’t agree with me, you’re hopeless.’ Which fails any evidentiary bar you care to set.

                      3) Criminal liability sure isn’t the threshold in Congress, and yet there was no results from any of the investigations except for one weak-as impeachment on a doubly collateral issue.
                      That, and people like Brett who are rock-solid convinced of this unproved reality.

                    3. Hillary’s suspicious cattle futures aren’t my forte, I regarded them as unimportant back in the 90s when nothing came of it, and you are correct in your points in your rejoinder.

                      But just because nothing resulted after the investigation, or more likely they couldn’t prove it, doesn’t mean anything illegal didn’t happen, especially when the mathematical odds of that profit margin was, shall we say, more than three standard deviations from the mean, and we have high standards of evidence to pronounce guilt (at least when the media doesn’t run the trial). She got away with it, as many smart or lucky criminals do, so it’s almost like it never happened. Brett’s problem, if you could call it that, is calling a spade a spade when it takes a joint consensus as to “spade-dom.”

                    4. The leap both you and Brett are making is from ‘it doesn’t mean anything illegal didn’t happen’ to ‘she got away with it.

                      Possible does not mean actual.

                    5. I dunno, when I hear hoofbeats, I think of horses, not zebras. If the mathematical probability of X event makes it almost impossible to occur, and reasoned analysis based on a large array of facts (though missing key subjective insights) shows that Y is more likely explanation, in a world where we cannot measure objective truth on a range of topics, is it acceptable to consider Y over X.

                    6. And so you, too, are appealing to incredulity. Which is, of course, as open to bias as an argument can be.

                      Adding a layer of speculative quantitative-but-not-really probabilities does not make the case stronger, it shows how much you wish you had something concrete but don’t.

        2. It’s not “hysteria” when her business partners, her law partners, and her commodities broker all went to jail for her crimes, while she skated

          1. That’s some weak-ass guilt by association and cherry picking, dude. And even so not anything like proof of a crime.

          2. Could you get more specific?

    3. The coverage of the Manafort trial compared to the coverage of the Menendez trial is actually a good example. If you look at media coverage, it would seem like nobody really cared about the criminal trial of a sitting US Senator. Meanwhile we’re bombarded with daily updates on a tax evasion trial of some guy who once spent a few weeks on Trump’s campaign team.

  4. It is interesting how liberals, and the liberal media, can see the mote of Fox News and Breitbart, and ignore the beam of the major networks, the NY Times, the Washington Post, et. al.

    1. Assuming ‘liberal media’ is proven for the sake of argument, right back at you – what about Fix News, Brietbart, and talk radio? Are they good sources of news to you, or are they beams in your eye?

      1. I’m not sure about Jerry B., but no, they aren’t good sources.

        I also think it’s a bit disingenuous to compare Breitbart and talk radio with newspapers or national and local news programs. Both are known to be biased; that’s often why their readers go there. I don’t complain about bias from Huffington Post or the Daily Show (inconsistency or hypocrisy maybe, but not bias). That’s because I know what we’ve got going into it.

        As for Fox, I look at them much like I think of MSNBC at this point. Its watchers know what it is and go to it for those purposes. So most of their viewers know the bias, even if they think the bias is deserved.

        The real objections to media bias concern outlets that claim to be neutral or simply reporting the facts, when in fact they are exhibiting bias in how they approach those stories.

        1. I think that’s fair enough – I certainly make about the same judgement when someone has on MSNBC as when they have on FOX. And CNN…oh, buy. Just stay away from Cable News entirely for your default TV – only Food Network and History Channel and Sports!

          I just think there’s a big ‘if’ regarding how liberally biased all that media you guys yell about is, whether that bias be unconscious or some bad-faith conspiracy.

          The media sucks, but just like our government, it’s giving us what we want. And what we want is tribalism to the point of self-harm.

      2. “what about Fix News, Brietbart, and talk radio?”

        It is insane to think that these three match the 3 broadcast networks, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, WaPo, 300 other newspapers, Huffington Post, Yahoo News, all the “non political” monthlys [like The Atlantic] in scope or influence.

        1. Hey, Jerry’s the one that made the comparison, and now you guys are arguing it’s not the comparison to make because there isn’t one – all the right wing media is David and all the mainstream media is Goliath, and they should be judged under different standards.

          I think I agree that the standards should be different. I’m not sure I buy the influence differential you’re assuming though.

        2. How do you measure scope and influence? Given your side’s “it’s so unfair,” premises, I suggest the right measure would be political outcomes. On that basis, stop whining. Fox, Breitbart and talk radio have been extraordinarily politically influential. Traditional media have not.

  5. First, either unconscious bias is a thing or it isn’t. How the good Prof. consistently uses it as a sword against the liberal media protestation that it isn’t biased and a shield against liberal attempts to prevent unconscious bias is beyond me.

    But even ignoring all her past posts about unconscious racial bias not being a thing, the leap from random people to professionals with procedures, and increasingly involved big-corporate publishers, is nowhere near supported.

    Unless, of course, your bias is to assume stuff that provides ammo for your side is too good to bother nailing down…

    1. Throw enough people with the same bias together, and procedure doesn’t prevent bias from taking its toll. Procedure makes sure bias takes its toll, by rendering it extremely unlikely that something can get by the bias without multiple people having the same bias letting it. Multiple gatekeepers multiply bias, if it’s shared.

      So the biased decision that something isn’t worthy of reporting is made certain by procedure, not prevented.

      1. But liberalism isn’t monolithic, and neither are it’s biases. And of course newsrooms are hardly universally liberal.
        Add in the controlling incentive to sell papers, as well as the affirmative efforts to hire conservative writers (to varying levels of them not being racists).

        I’m not saying it’s a disproven hypothesis, but this weak attempt is the farthest anyone on the right has bothered to go towards proof.
        And why should you? Assuming liberal bias and whipping up the base even as you work the refs has provided some gangbuster results, facts not needed.

        1. His preferred term is “the Left.”

        2. Liberalism, and newsrooms, are close enough to monolithic relative to the normal range of public opinion. When you look at about 95% of coverage of Trump being negative, when he’s got a 40% approval rating with the general public, that’s pretty darned monolithic.

          The controlling incentive to sell papers is obviously not strong enough to cause newspapers to try to cater to about half the range of public opinion.

          And when you’re committed to viewing dissent from liberalism as proof of racism, you end up just claiming that you’re not hiring conservatives because they’re racists. And maybe even believing it.

          1. 95% coverage of Trump being negative is not the correct metric, and I expect you know it. Trump and the media is a weird aberrant thing and should not be used as proof of anything.

            We do not want a media that just reflects public sentiment regardless of reality. We want them marketing truth, not whatever people want to hear.
            But even if truth is not truth, it would be a sentiment of the potential market, not of the public generally.

            As for your ipse-dixit that capitalism doesn’t effect newspapers as much as their bias ‘obviously’ does…not only is the potential market not the public generally, but courting that 40% might not be costless for the other 60%.

            The dismissal of the actual racist quotes that caused a bunch of conservative journalists to get quickly fired isn’t going to be washed away by general handwaiving to ‘but the libs call everything racist.’

            But mostly I was poking fun. There are lots of existant conservatives writing in mainstream publications, it’s just quite a pattern how many turn out to be super into Europeans and against…not that. Dunno if it’s statistically significant, just an amusing anecdote like that blip of gay anti-gay Republicans a few years back. Or, to put the shoe on the other foot, all those anti-Asian black Democrats that we keep hearing about.

            1. What I find amusing is your perception that there are conservatives writing in mainstream publications. They are more like moderates, whose job is to be a foil for the hard right. If being a foil is not in their actual job description, it’s still how they end up. They are accommodationists, who’s daily bread is ever in jeopardy for a wayward tweet. When attempts are made to hire and promote some like Kevin Williamson at the Atlantic, well, they don’t last to long promoting something that is not just a yard to the right of the 50 yard line.

              1. Just because you declare your version of the center is the center doesn’t make it so.

                And your writing off all token conservatives (and I concede they are token) as not really conservative is a neat bit of trickery that will keep the press liberal for ever and ever regardless of their actual ideology.

                1. The token liberal media conservatives have never embraced core concerns of Republicans in the electorate, such as guns, God, and an economic plan that wasn’t a full-throated endorsement of free trade, and immigration restrictions (or at least no amnesty).

                  Two examples;
                  1: endless think pieces about reaching out to Latino voters as “natural conservatives” to include amnesty, with nary a whisper in them about Catholic opposition to abortion. When the hard right was saying “win 3% more of the working class white vote”, which coincidentally, is how Trump won.
                  2: The prominence and predominance of “Never Trumpers” being the token conservatives. Like it or not, Trump’s concerns are the policy preferences of the conservatives in the electorate.

                  I could get fancy and do a deep dive into PEW polling, but this should be enough evidence off the top of my head.

                  1. Both your examples start with squish adjectives that bespeak confirmation bias.

                    And don’t think I didn’t notice the shift inhering in ‘Guns, God, and…an economic plan that isn’t the endorsement of free trade.’ LOL. What a difference five years makes!

                    But I’ll agree with you that conservativism as you define it isn’t getting a voice in the mainstream media. Neither is Bernie-style Democratic Socialism. Neither is Full Space Communism Now.

                    It’s hard out there on the fringe.

                    1. It’s a common understanding that both party’s elites sold the electorate of both parties out on NAFTA, sorry you missed that. You also forget Pat Buchanan’s insurgency in 1992, and how he led the fight against NAFTA. Trump sounds and awful lot like him, or Ross Perot for that matter, and both had a large conservative following. And Jeb Bush wanted to be the first to win the primary without winning the base, and he was going to do that by sucking up the money. He called it “losing the primary to win the general,” lots of articles on it.

                      Republican elites, the ones in the party apparatus and jobs in Alexandria they got through MBA school connections, they would prefer another base if they could. Those goobers who care about guns and bibles, they embarrass them in polite company (cue the Rev here).

                      Token conservatives are mainstream media court midgets, there to remind the populace how big liberalism is, and also the only ones allowed to make fun of the king (nicely, of course).

                      Although it is a two way street, the traffic doesn’t flow equally. Elite preferences do not drive opinions in the hinterlands. Opinions in the hinterlands have to be catered to enough to win elections, and sometimes the peasants revolt.

                    2. It’s a common understanding that both party’s elites sold the electorate of both parties out on NAFTA, sorry you missed that

                      That’s not the understanding of actual economists.Or people who like to buy things.

                      Do you think Pat Buchanan lacked mainstream media platforms?! Or that Trump does?

                      Your narrative of the party elites is the same thing I hear on the left. It’s got nothing to do with the media and everything to do with party fringes thinking they’re the Real Soul of the Party and the Future.

                      Trump winning hasn’t changed your party’s leadership; that’s the nature of institutions. It’s also not the media’s problem.

                    3. I said it’s a common understanding of the electorate that they were sold up the river by NAFTA. I’m not saying that they are right, or wrong, just that it is a common understanding of the masses, left and right, that NAFTA benefited elites and not the average Joe. And even if the masses are not given to much introspection, they are also generally aware that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Cheap stuff a Walmart comes with a different kind of cost, but that’s China you’re getting at anyway.

                      American opinion, on the whole, is actually pretty middle of the road. I’m not disagreeing with you.

                      This is very frustrating, as you keep taking what I write and spin it into something I’ve not said. What I’m saying is that there are no doctrinaire conservatives in liberal media (Rush Limbaugh types), and that the liberal media conservatives are tokens. They do not mirror the opinions of the GOP’s base. When I present evidence that the party base opinion is different from elite opinion (Buchanan/Trump/Perot), you turn into me saying that the party’s base represents ALL of America. It clearly doesn’t, and I didn’t say that. What my examples show is that the GOP electorate’s opinions do not have that much overlap with GOP party members and elected officials, and not with token conservatives at the NY Times.

                    4. OK. For clarity, here is how I see your thesis:
                      ‘The party elites are out of step with the party base. Trade policy is an example of this. Because the only people the mainstream media hires are the party elites, they aren’t hiring truly representative people. Therefore the media is ignoring conservatives.’

                      But mainstream media having a bias towards elites is not at all the same as their having a partisan bias – your same argument applies to Bernie supporters as well. Perhaps more so, given recent events.

                      And I also resist your evidence of the GOP elites not being in step with their party. Or at least, not being extraordinarily so as compared to political parties generally. Buchannan lost by a lot. Trump won, and while the initial tentative narrative was that it had something to do with trade policy, the metrics more or less showed that was a misapprehension of what drove Trump voters/stay at home Democrats.

                    5. I’m glad we are not talking past each other anymore…mostly.

                      “But mainstream media having a bias towards elites is not at all the same as their having a partisan bias”

                      I’m not debating the OP’s conclusions that the mainstream media has a partisan bias (I think they clearly do, but there is enough alternative media that it doesn’t matter that much). I’m just taking issue with your assertion that since there are, by your own word “token” conservatives in the media, that the mainstream media are making a sincere effort to bring at least some equanimity in opinion. I’m saying that they are not, because someone like Rush Limbaugh would write for the NYT or the Atlantic if that were the case.

                      And like I said, it’s a two way street, in that elite opinion drives opinion in the GOP electorate and opinions in the GOP electorate drive elite opinions, but also that the flow of traffic is not equal. My assertion is that the party base is not represented well because elites only meet the party’s base so far because they still win the general election.

                      However, if we really want to get particular, it’s not the party’s voters driving polarization (of both parties) it’s the activists, the average Joe only pays attention every once and awhile. The thing is, though, is that they rely on the activist groups to notify them when someone is trying to pull a fast one on them.

                    6. So to you it’s Limbaugh or it doesn’t count as conservative. Which, again, more about your personal ideological universe than it does the NYT’s.

                      My argument is that your connection between elites and not being conservative holds as well on the left. And, I will add, would also hold for every major American political party since the Democratic Republicans.
                      Which shows it’s not an issue of partisan bias, nor is it one of bad faith. It’s a fundamental institutional attribute of the institutions you’re criticizing. Elite media institutions are going to hire elites. Non-elite media institutions are not going to be mainstream.

                    7. Wow! Your blinkered. To the majority of Republicans, someone like Limbaugh more closely represents their views than the token moderates in the NYT. Why is that so tough for you to understand? Rush is popular not because he influences people’s opinions but because he reflects them, and articulates their beliefs in an entertaining way that they cannot. The token moderates in the mainstream media like Joe Scarborough have opinions that do not align with the typical Republican voter. Get it?

                      Further, you can have a bias for elitism and simultaneously a partisan bias, they are not mutually exclusive. Ever further, conservative “elites” who are articulate and camera savvy or who are good writers who *not* being chosen to be the token conservatives. Imagine a Dennis Prager as the token conservative at the NYT or on MSNBC or any other mainstream media outfit. Not really happening.

                      Regardless, again, I’m not debating media bias (it clearly exists), just your misguided assertion that the mainstream media is trying to bring some balance by having tokens, when the tokens, by design or dint of practice, act more as a foil for the harder right than they do for the leftists on the show or at the paper.

                    8. Party. Elites. Are. Never. In. Sync. With. Their. Base.

                      Your Limbaugh/NAFTA argument has not discovered anything new, and your assumption that this is an issue particular to the modern American GOP is myopic as anything.

                      There are interesting discussion to be had about the elite’s general elevation of the status quo versus the radicalism of the mob. But none of these discussions have any partisan valence. Nor do they prove any partisan bad faith in the media for hiring elites on the right as they do on the left and in the center.

                      Just because you see something when you turn right doesn’t mean it’s only true on your right.

                    9. Party elites can be in sync with their base, happens in waves. America during the Era of Good Feelings. America roughly 1948-1970ish. How big is the difference of opinion between elites and the base, that depends on the topic, but in general in the immediate post war era there wasn’t “a dime’s worth of difference” between the parties because there wan’t much of a difference between public opinion on a range of salient issues. For example, 1960s leftist radicalism was a fringe movement, the typical Democrat voter wanted to go slower on race integration, and didn’t want forced busing. Don’t confuse activist and activist group’s opinions with the voting base, which is what you appear to be doing, while simultaneously saying (and agreeing with me) that public opinion is moderate.

                      You didn’t address my point that being an elite and being a rock-ribbed conservative happens, and we don’t see such conservatives at the NYT or on MSNBC. Stephen Moore at CNN is about the closet example you could find, and Media Matters went after them for hiring the guy. Nope, instead we get accomodationists or never-Trumpers.

                      So again, the token conservatives in the mainstream media are to act as a foil for the hard(er) right. Perhaps it’s because elites (a term we ought to define) are birds of a feather flocking together (as you imply), but more likely, considering the animus with which the mainstream regards standard base conservative voters, it is not.

                    10. The post-war era is not a great example. check out 1962. Or Johnson and the Dixiecrats. Or McCarthy vs. Eisenhower. Or MacArthur.
                      All of those are misalignments between the party leadership and their base in some shape or form.

                      The Era of Good Feelings was a well known failure papering over internal strife. Or at least so I learned in high school history, though that is often reductive and now probably out of date.

                      The main reason for the disagreement and why it is so broad is differing incentives and information. That’s not a solvable problem.

                      If you want to split hairs between activists and the base, I don’t know how you would distinguish between the fringe and Buchannan or anti-NAFTA sentiment for most of the 2000.

                      Elites are the lifetime politicians running the party apparatus. Populists make their bones by setting themselves against the elites to the base…until they begin running the party apparatus.

                    11. To reiterate your thesis:
                      By hiring only elites, that regardless of the putative ideology of their hires, the media is engaged in partisan bias against conservatives.

                      We’ve ventured far afield. Fun afield, but far.

                    12. Whether you realize it, you’re arguing against yourself. Either the public on the whole is moderate (and the public consists of the base) or the base is full of fringe types. All I am saying, at base, is that the “conservatives” hired by liberal media end up (on accident or on purpose) reinforcing the status quo.

                      And you’re subjectively enlarging the size of the disagreements that you refer too. McAuthor vs Ike? C’mon, that was a personality conflict.

                      There is a huge amount of difference between activists and the base. Political Science in a rare feat has done some good work on how activists are behind a lot of the party polarization. Activists show up to NRA conventions, the base is just a member of the NRA, and the moderate public is a member of neither but likes one side a bit more. It is in the vested monetary and psychological interests of activist groups to stir the pot.

                      Until I see someone like Daniel Horowitz at the NYT, rubbing shoulders with their new racist editor, then their tokenism is actually worse than Juan Williams being the whipping boy on The Five on Fox. At least Juan Williams is a old school JFK doctrinaire liberal and is allowed to respectfully present his version of reality and is a mainstay, not just a talking head brought in from time to time. Have you seen any of the clips with Rick Sanatorum as a talking head for CNN…it’s like he’s telling them the sky is orange (right after he is done disavowing a Trump tweet or some such).

                    13. You are conflating party population with general population. For your thesis, you are trying to argue that conservatives are disserved because the media bias towards elites hurts them especially, and purposefully (though we haven’t really touched on the media intent part of your argument)

                      McArthur vs. Ike was freaking huge. McArthur was ridiculously popular for a while there. There was concern he was going to declare a military dictatorship – and succeed. Source.

                      Sorry, I do get caught up in history. I still do think that party leadership is very rarely serving their base very well – just enough to keep legitimacy. But that tension is as much a feature as a bug much of the time.

                      The line between activist and base doesn’t seem an easy one to draw. And abstracting to which events are activist-led drama and which are base dissatisfaction driven would add another layer of obfuscation.

                      In the end, I continue to hold that your demands for angry Internet pot-stirrers to get into the NYT misunderstands the NYT as an institution, and what separates it from Breitbart (for better or worse).

          2. “When you look at about 95% of coverage of Trump being negative, when he’s got a 40% approval rating…”

            What do these things have to do with each other?

            1. What they’ve got to do with each other is that they demonstrate that the media aren’t remotely representative of the population in their politics.

              1. So what? Do you think it should be?

          3. “The controlling incentive to sell papers is obviously not strong enough to cause newspapers to try to cater to about half the range of public opinion.”

            Doesn’t this disprove the hypothesis that they’re hopelessly biased? News reporting is not intended to “cater” to anyone. Facts aren’t partisan.

            1. It’s like you didn’t read the OP, which discussed this exact point: No, facts don’t have a partisan bias. But partisans are biased about which facts to report. (Assuming, purely for the sake of argument, that people are 100% reliable about distinguishing facts from mere suppositions, which is actually BS.)

              1. No, facts don’t have a partisan bias. But partisans are biased about which facts to report.

                You may be tacking close to insight there, Brett. As a reporter or editor, I would be at a loss to feature many stories movement conservatives want to see?because so many don’t have much newsworthy factual basis to refer to.

                That’s not a coincidence. Folks who think of themselves as movement conservatives mostly haven’t got any politics of their own, nor any policies they prefer?except to oppose the left. Whether left or right, that’s not a good fit for newspaper-type activity.

                It explains why token conservatives who show up in liberal journals are the people they are. They differ from movement conservatives. They do have politics of their own, and do favor policies based on motives more complicated than anti-leftism. So they offer political ideas which can be discussed in terms of newsworthy facts.

                Movement conservatism’s demands to be taken seriously by mainstream media boil down to demands that mainstream media stop trying to prioritize news, and instead join movement conservatives in anti-leftist jihad.

                If you know of some media-ignored fact that seems to support an anti-leftist conclusion, ask yourself which is most important about it?is it the fact itself, or is it the anti-leftist import? If it’s the latter, then consider that maybe what you see as exclusion is actually preference for facts-based reporting.

            2. Yes, hard hitting journalism like “what has most enchanted you about the oval office” is what people are looking for when they’re tuning in to a white house press conference. How we’ve missed that kind of truth seeking intensity with the current President.

          4. When you look at about 95% of coverage of Trump being negative,

            Does seem kind of low, yes.

        3. “(to varying levels of them not being racists).”

          We have an example this month of a writer being hired by the NY Times who is both racist toward whites and a misandrist.

          Is that a mote or a beam?

          1. It’s almost as though most other people can tell the difference between sincere tweets and trolling.

            It’s the same sense that’s why when conservatives try to backtrack via ‘I was just trolling’ no one buys it.

            1. “that’s why when conservatives try to backtrack via ‘I was just trolling’ no one buys it.”

              Correct, that excuse only works for liberals.

              Hundreds of male and white hating tweets is not “trolling”, its sincerely held beliefs.

              1. Or…maybe…it’s because the conservatives who are caught are usually not younger trolls, and are older actual racists trying to backtrack.

                Ironic racist tolling exists (and sucks). That PewDiePie guy had a problem with it back in the day, and the magic excuse worked for him.

                I don’t think volume implies lack of trolling at all. I read a sampling of that lady’s tweets; if you think someone actually believes all that and functions in society normally…your the one with an issue, since you believe liberals are the cartoons you wish they were.

                1. Talk about confirmation bias.

                  1. Burden’s on Bob – he’s the one trying to argue this lady is sincere, with the only evidence that she posted a lot and that liberals are totally that crazy.

                    1. No, his evidence is that she posted a lot of racist and misandrist stuff. You are the one trying to excuse it.

                    2. “only evidence that she posted a lot”

                      My only evidence is her actual words.

                    3. I said she was trolling. This is supported by 1) the cartoonish nature of her posts, 2) the general understanding of everyone except a few conservative partisans.

                      Bob and you have both failed to rebut, just insisting that we take her literally because…she posted a lot.

                    4. As I said, confirmation bias. You see what you want to see. Liberals are good, and conservatives are evil.

                    5. “Bob and you have both failed to rebut”

                      Her literal words rebut you.

                      Objective words versus subjective “trolling” interpretation.

                      “general understanding of everyone ”

                      Bandwagon fallacy.

                    6. I say her words should not be taken literally. You say ‘but yes they should.’ That’s not rebuttal dude.

                      jph12, I have a lot of people going along with me across the partisan spectrum. You and Bob have only conservative gadflies. I’m not for argument ad popularum but since both of our arguments are at core perceptual, that’s the best evidence we’re going to get.

                    7. “I have a lot of people going along with me across the partisan spectrum. ”

                      Bandwagon fallacy again.

                      And name 5 conservatives “going along with” you?

                    8. You are attempting to reverse the burden of proof.

                      She posted a lot of racist and sexist things.
                      She initiated many of these posts, rather than posting in response to others.
                      She gave academic presentations during which she espouses the same racist and sexist views.

                      So, purely objectively, Sarah Jeong has said racist and sexist things. She has said them in a casual environment, voluntarily. She said them in a professional environment, voluntarily. She said them in an academic environment, voluntarily.

                      Why do you claim it is better to introduce, in the absence of any evidence, the complicated circumstances that would be needed to explain why she was trolling for years, in casual, professional, and academic environments?

                      And tell me – do you apply those same rules to any one else’s Tweets and speeches?

                    9. “jph12, I have a lot of people going along with me across the partisan spectrum. You and Bob have only conservative gadflies.”

                      Bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit.

                    10. Then post people who take issues with her posts that are not conservative gadflies.

                      Or explain how one can carry the burden of proof when the issue is one of interpretation and the good faith of the writer’s later claims.

                    11. Give me a list of conservative gadflies and explain why I should trust your evaluation.

                    12. By your dumb standard it is logically impossible to convince you. Which should show you how dumb you are being.

                      Jeong tweeted a crude graph claiming that as whiteness increased so did awful. Do you think that graph was meant as a serious commentary?

                      She said that white people smell like dogs. Sounds legit, and in no way an ironic echo of what people sincerely say about foreigneers!

                      Another Truth Bomb: ‘Are white people genetically predisposed to burn faster in the sun, thus logically being only fit to live underground like groveling goblins>’

                      So quit it with your tautological bullcrap.

                    13. “So quit it with your tautological bullcrap.”

                      Wait, you’re the one who says that anyone who disagrees is just a conservative gadfly and you accuse me of tautological bullcrap? Fuck off douchebag.

                    14. I provided a disprovable position which you have failed to engage.

                      You have demanded nothing except logical impossibilities, and then declared that even if I provided those you wouldn’t agree with me.

                      So yeah, I don’t have a lot of patience with that substanceless debate-class tomfoolery.

    2. Let me help you get right to the point, Sarcastro (I miss the old sarcastic Castro-profile-pic-endowed Sarcastro, BTW):

      Gail Heriot is a disgrace to VC.

      1. Yeah, I’m not a fan, but I try to engage on substance…at least when I’m in a good mood.

        1. That no one has mentioned Prof. Heriot’s whining about ideological diversity was preceded by her disingenuous masquerade as an “independent” to mock a statutory ideological diversity provision indicates the Volokh Conspiracy is more hollow, uninformed polemics than substance.

          1. Kirkland is lying; the statutory provision was about partisan diversity, not ideological diversity.

            1. I haven’t followed this tempest in a teapot, but that’s still some formalist BS (and probably bad faith) if you need to make that distinction.

    3. “First, either unconscious bias is a thing or it isn’t. How the good Prof. consistently uses it as a sword against the liberal media protestation that it isn’t biased and a shield against liberal attempts to prevent unconscious bias is beyond me.”

      Where, exactly, do you see her discussing unconscious bias in this post?

      1. Unconscious bias in perceptions of newsworthiness is the entire point of the study she cited.

        1. No it isn’t. Where, exactly, do you see her discussing unconscious bias in this post?

          1. They were specifically asked to disregard how interesting they themselves happened to find the event.

            How did it turn out? You can guess, can’t you? For all six issues, subjects rated stories as possessing greater intrinsic newsworthiness when they offered ammunition for “their side” of a controversy.

            I’m having trouble understanding how you might interpret this as otherwise than that one’s perception of newsworthiness was colored by partisanship, even when instructed to ignore such things. So it was unconscious, and it was a bias…

            1. Is it bias or unconscious that you don’t understand?

              1. Which don’t YOU understand? I provided support for the study addressing both.

                1. No you haven’t.

                  1. Oh look, this isn’t an argument. It’s just contradiction!

                    1. No, it’s just you repeatedly demonstrating you don’t understand the matter under discussion. Where, exactly, does this post talk about unconscious bias?

                    2. It talks about unconscious bias when it addresses that the selection of newsworthiness corrects for the subject’s bias even when they are instructed not to include their own bias. The subjects are either intentionally disregarding the instruction, or don’t realize (because it is unconscious) that their personal bias sneaks through.

                    3. That’s not unconscious bias. You can’t be asked to disregard unconscious bias because it’s, by definition, unconscious. Unconscious bias is bias that people aren’t aware of at the conscious level (which is why they came up with the seemingly discredited implicit bias tests to measure it). People are aware that they are political partisans, and the people in the study were aware of how they felt about the issues discussed in the fake headlines when they took part in the study. And they were not asked to disregard their own biases. They were merely asked to judge based on newsworthiness rather than their own personal interest. Personal interest is different than partisan bias.

                      This is from the article itself. “The key hypothesis motivating the present study was that people’s views on a given issue will predict differences in their ratings of the two hypothetical news stories associated with that issue. The difference was expected to re?ect a bias towards rating as more newsworthy any story that provides partisan ammunition for the rater’s preferred issue position.” In other words, if I know your expressed position on Issue X, I can predict whether you will find Story A or Story B more newsworthy based on which one supports your position on Issue X. That’s pretty much the opposite of unconscious bias, which argues that your expressed position on an issue does not match your actual belief.

  6. This article is late to the party. Fox News was founded with a stroke of genius — instead of endless harping on how Americans are bad, what if they take the opposite bias, bias being the choice of stories to repeat over and over long after it was “news”.

    CNN finally took the gloves off and is now the opposite.

    1. I don’t think pre-FOX the media was all about how Americans are bad…

      1. Yes, but you have to admit that they called Reagan’s optimism foolish, and then, like now, thought America’s best days were behind her.

        1. I wasn’t really cognizant before about 2003, but I don’t think that the usual ‘crisis and conflict sell’ is the same as saying America is on it’s way down.

          Selling anxiety that America may no longer be at the top is something FOX does too, and quite a bit, they just blame a smaller subset of the country.

        2. Not to mention how Americans were all obese, greedy, racist and sexist.

          1. I think the ‘all’ is making a leap that isn’t supported. Though I’ll admit I was all about cartoons and Star Trek in the pre-FOX time we’re discussing.

    2. Um, CNN was called the ‘Clinton News Network’ work it’s unending support for Bill Clinton back in the early 1990s. Fox News wasn’t even founded until 1996.
      And that ignores Walter Cronkite’s misbehaviors…

      This paper isn’t covering new material, though, that’s true. Groeling, Groseclose/Milyo, and Gentzkow/Shapiro are all researchers that have been covering the topic for 10-20 years.
      A simple test is easy: Just look at how often news sources report on unemployment reports and approval polls, or what media consumers think about how important those numbers are, vs who is in office.

      1. “CNN was called the ‘Clinton News Network’…”

        Tom DeLay also called it the Communism News Network. Does that mean Fox News is really Faux News because that’s what its lamest detractors call it?

        “A simple test is easy: Just look at how often news sources report on unemployment reports…”

        Don’t they report on them every time they are issued?

        1. TV news frequently doesn’t report on the monthly numbers, or shuffles it off to a few second during off-time. In the same way, newspapers may put the report on the front page, or bury it in the back (on a web page, putting no links to the front page is almost as good as not publishing it).

          Groeling shows quite well that there is bias. Fox was far more likely to report negative poll reports about Clinton than any other network and positive about Bush, while CBS, NBC, CNN, and ABC were far more likely to report positive results for Clinton and negatively for Bush.

          Found in my archive another paper that is directly along the lines of the paper in the article.
          Nyhan/Reifler 2011 features this wonderful line:

          Numerous studies have found that people tend to interpret information about politics in a
          manner that is consistent with their predispositions, especially when it is mixed or
          ambiguous (e.g., Lord, Ross, and Lepper 1979; Edwards and Smith 1996; Taber and
          Lodge 2006).

  7. I think what comes across most strongly to us unwashed deplorables (aka gun-loving, Bible-thumping, military-enlisting, backwoods-loving uneducated throwbacks to simpler times) is how downhill the tone the strongly pro-Democrat national media takes when addressing us.

    It is more than just “of course” we can’t understand why they select and highlight the aspects of the “news” every day that the elites such as they consider to be all the news fit to disseminate. It is that when we manage to find out a whole universe of other facts and interpretations, then meld that often controversial and contrary info into narratives that seem like common sense to us, the media elites really get nasty.

    At that point, all conservatives, traditionalists, and unrepentant nationalists understand that liberal elites really do not see us at all. We are just caricatures. We are referred to in the crudest of strawman characterizations and the stupidest, most extreme voices out there are represented as typical of all of us.

    Frankly, I have never heard my beliefs on immigration, or gun control, or trade policy, or social issues, or climate change, or any other issue represented in a fair and balanced way by any of the following: NPR, PBS, CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, the AP, BBC, or anything with MSN in the title.

    Do we plan on doing anything about this? Well, dad gum, I would wager we are just too dumb to do much except sit on these logs and watch the hounds sleeping in the shade. . .

  8. I’m in a funny position on this thread. I agree with complaints suggesting mainstream media bias?and suggest on my own that I think it has been getting worse. On the other hand, I think most movement conservative objections are out to lunch.

    Problem is this. The bias does indeed operate mostly by the choice of what to cover, and what to ignore. But that doesn’t mean everything covered is covered because of bias, nor that everything ignored is ignored because of bias.

    Before news organizations can exercise biases, they have to find some news to make biased decisions about. And that news has to have import, in and of itself, that news consumers judge to be significant. It has actually got to be news.

    But movement conservatives keep finding mini-news, light-import news, news that’s a snooze?but all of it, stories that electrify movement conservatives, because those stories have some kind of anti-leftist import. That isn’t the way even biased news organizations judge news, so those stories get downplayed for sound reasons. And movement conservatives get outraged.

    To fix that, movement conservatives will have to find bigger news that’s being ignored. Because news gathering is harder than they suppose, that will likely prove harder for movement conservatives to accomplish than they suppose. Also, they will have to stop complaining that stories they heard about from the news media?like Clinton corruption stories?are being suppressed by the news media.

    1. The Clinton corruption stories were lightly, even apologetically, treated by the media, and the proof is Peter Schweizer, who at one time was the darling of the NYT and the WaPo until he wouldn’t back off of Hillary after her inevitability as the Democrat nominee in 2016 loomed.

      At that point, Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash” appeared and the NYT and the rest of the liberal wolfpack felt that they had to discredit it. How to do that? Not easy, because Schweizer had 57 pages of footnotes documenting all of the entities who made large contributions to the Clinton Foundation or exorbitant speaking fees for Bill.

      Did those entities get special access, any special consideration? Oh, no, quid pro quo can not be proved the liberal mainstream media begin to chant in Greek chorus wailing. No smoking gun!

      Quid pro quo would certainly have stunned the world if those 33,000 emails not been destroyed right in the teeth of Congressional sub poenas. This was the whole point of Hillary having the throwaway server to begin with. She knew the day would come everything would have to be wiped, like with a cloth.

      Anyhow, we deplorables have hot new reading material. Gregg Jarrett has written: “The Russia Hoax: the Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump.” Now this work resonates with accusations that, if true, should call for screaming headlines, follow up stories,reviews of evidence, etc.

      What do we get from the Mainstream Media?

      The sound of silence. . .

  9. Now this work resonates with accusations that, if true, should call for screaming headlines, follow up stories,reviews of evidence, etc.

    There’s your problem, right there. You think movement conservatives ought to be able to force mainstream media to break stories by making accusations. Media think, with pretty good cause, that responding the way you want them to would be a fools errand. So they are going to wait for some sign that accusers have a corroborative fact or two?note, not an inference, not a supposition, not something which sounds plausible?but facts someone claims to know for sure already, and that someone else could verify.

    I get that plenty of movement conservatives think that their accusatory mood is a fact worth reporting, and that the accusations they make corroborate that they are in an accusatory mood. But that’s not the way it works.

    I’m telling you this as someone who loathed Hillary Clinton, by the way. And who found plenty of ammunition in mainstream reporting to try to convince friends and acquaintances not to vote for her. By putting the detailed stories about her speaking fees together with stuff she said on TV, I could even point you to a smoking gun quid pro quo.

    But I’m over Hillary, and you should be too. And you would be over her, if you had any politics of your own to promote. That’s a movement conservative problem, they keep saying, “But Hillary . . . ,” because that’s all they’ve got.

    1. Getting Hillary is only half of my ongoing crusade. The other half of Gregg Jarrett’s title is “framing Donald Trump” and that is no where near being old news or a lost cause.

      1. Furthermore, as Rhett Butler said in Gone With The Wind on his last-minute enlistment in the Confederate Army, “Sometimes lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.”

      2. Maybe not a lost cause, but without facts which are newsworthy in themselves?not as mere pointers to potential pay dirt inferences?not yet newsworthy. Have you got any such facts to offer, or are you all about inferences, possibilities, and the certainty of leftist skullduggery?

        Here’s an example of the kind of fact you’re looking for. Some close associate of Mueller suffers a fit of conscience, and confesses he and Mueller got together and discussed a need to find some way to frame Trump. Better, of course, if you have the discussion on tape. See, if you have that, a title which says “Framing Donald Trump,” has something to support it, instead of being an unwarranted partisan rant.

        Look at it another way. You know what Mueller is trying to do right now? He is trying to get that kind of specificity, to support charges and inferences others have suggested. And have you noticed what he isn’t doing? He’s not saying anything yet.

        So maybe movement conservatives ought to shut up, and follow Mueller’s lead. If they did it that way, there would be a lot more media interest in what they were about.

  10. From the article:

    “Well, that’s not quite true … news reporters have to decide what stories are newsworthy (and what facts within stories are newsworthy).”

    And then how to spin the “facts.”

  11. So my debate with Lathrop boils down to: (a) is justice a specificity of fact game which Hillary won because acid washes well and “reasonable prosecutors” in Comey’s mind wouldn’t indict (the glove doesn’t fit, you know!)
    or (b) is the perception of justice what matters in a democracy, which touches on the appearance of impropriety and the life experiences of all jurors which in turn will guide their feelings of sympathy for an accused.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that by a “gotcha” standard of strict nit-picking justice there was no chance whatsoever that Mueller was not going to be able to nail Trump with something. I mean, maybe 4,000 laws to choose from and look at the talent Mueller and Weissman have at strong-arming associates. Brutal! No real surprise something like a campaign finance violation could be unearthed.

    However, gotcha justice may not be what prevails in the end in this strange and volatile land of the free, under a mysterious God.

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