Monday, October 01, 2007

It's sad to see RK quoting Media Matters as a credible source

when they have no credibility. But here a diarist at RK quotes from a "study" done by Media Matters that even a cursory glance shows is worthless.

the RK Diary is titled "Study finds strong conservative bias in Virginia Media". The title itself is spin, as even if the "study" wasn't hopelessly flawed, it didn't find a strong bias, just a bias.

But here's what RK had to say about the "study":

This is not surprising, but it's disturbing nonetheless: "When it comes to nationally syndicated columnists, Virginia's daily newspapers are dominated by conservatives, leaving progressive voices behind."

You know you are being fed a line when they compare "conservatives" vs "progressives", without even mentioning "liberals". Now, conservatives know that progressives are just liberals too ashamed to admit it, but "progressives" are insistant that there's a difference between "progressive" and "liberal", so therefore there must be a third "liberal" category -- and yet Media Matters couldn't find a SINGLE LIBERAL syndicated columnist.

RK continues:

In sum, Virginia newspapers lean heavily conservative in their editorial slant. So much for any "liberal media bias" in Virginia! Sad to say, this is the case nationally as well:

But wait. We KNOW that there's a lot of liberal editorial writers in Virginia, so how could this be? The secret is in the 1st sentence above: "Nationally Syndicated Columnists".

Yes, they simply compared "nationally syndicated columnists" to determine "editorial slant". In other words, this isn't a study of the editorial BOARD of the papers, or any of the local editorial writers. It's just about NATIONAL writers.

To show how stupid this is, my local paper, Manassas Journal Messenger/Potomac News, is listed twice (because it's kind of two papers). Both show 100% PROGRESSIVE, 0% CONSERVATIVE. Well, I write for that paper, so I know they have SOME conservatives. And in fact liberals are always writing to the paper to complaing about how many conservative opinion pieces there are.

But at this time, the paper apparently only picks up progressive NATIONALLY SYNDICATED columnists. At one time they had Kathleen Lopez, who I would have called conservatives, but I guess she's not being picked up any more.

Now, why is it that the papers showed a bias toward national conservative columnists? There are a lot of possibilities. If a paper wants to be balanced, and their editorial board is liberal, and their own columnists are liberal, they might pay for a well-known national conservative writer to "balance" the paper. Under the Media Matters/Raising Kaine standard, a paper which was entirely progressive, but with only local writers, who decides to pick up George Will, would count as a 100% CONSERVATIVE paper. Not very intellectually honest.

The study also complained that papers with bigger circulation had more conservatives. Well, that's easy to explain -- conservative writers attract more readers, who buy more papers, because they make more sense.

Also, there is a well-known liberal/progressive bias in the news industry. That means that for every conservative writer who could be promoted to the opinion pages, there are 9 liberals.

This means that it is very likely that a newspaper will have a couple of good opinion writers that are progressives, but also very possible they will not have any conservatives.

So they are likely to pick up a nationally syndicated conservative, to make up for their own lack of conservatives on their staff.

This would mean that if you are just measuring NATIONALLY SYNDICATED COLUMNISTS, you'd find more conservatives than liberals, since there are far fewer conservative columnists to go around, so the ones that are good will be syndicated a lot more often.

Let's face it, the New York Times doesn't need to pick up any nationally syndicated progressives, it's got a dozen of it's own to promote.

A real study would have evaluated the editorial BOARD of each paper, and then measured column inches each week devoted to conservative and liberal writings. In the MJM, I'd call the editorial board "progressive", and say about 2/3rds of the columns are biased toward the left, and 1/3rd to the right. Which actually is better than the "study" suggested (100% progressive).

Media Matters is the same group that just published two false claims about talk show hosts, both of which were believed by an all-too-"progressive" media willing to buy anything bad about conservatives. They are the group headed up by a guy who was essentially run out by conservatives after writing the screed "The Real Anita Hill". Liberals knew he was a liar then, but now that he lies for them he's A-OK.

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