Tilt? The Search for Media Bias

Tilt? The Search for Media Bias

Tilt? The Search for Media Bias

Tilt? The Search for Media Bias

Synopsis

Nine in ten Americans believe the media are biased. Trust in journalists ranks beneath that in lawyers, and even the media themselves regularly portray their own industry as slanted toward Democrats and liberals. These perceptions, however, do not coincide with reality, as David Niven reveals in his bold new take on an often-debated subject. Tilt? The Search for Media Bias presents the first comprehensive review of the charges, the evidence, and the effects, beginning with a simple but altogether overlooked premise: to measure media bias or fairness, one has to have a fair baseline with which to compare coverage. Using situations in which presidents, governors, mayors, and members of Congress from different political parties have produced the same results in office, Tilt? compares media coverage of Democrats and Republicans in situations in which they clearly deserved equal treatment. Niven's findings, unmistakable and consistent, reveal that when the output of politicians is the same, media coverage follows--a conclusion that is as provocative as it is timely and necessary.

Excerpt

Nurses. Pharmacists. Veterinarians. Doctors. School teachers. Clergy. Professors. Dentists. Engineers. Policemen. Judges. Accountants. Bankers. Funeral directors. Governors. Local officeholders. U.S. Senators. Building contractors. Business executives. Auto mechanics. U.S. Representatives. State officeholders. Stockbrokers. Labor union leaders. Lawyers. Real estate agents.

When the Gallup Poll asked Americans to rate the honesty and ethics of people in various fields, all of these occupations were more trusted than “newspaper reporters.” Americans ranked the honesty and ethics of newspaper reporters ahead of only car salesmen, insurance salesmen, and the advertising industry. In numbers like these, it is clear to observers such as New York Times columnist Frank Rich that “everyone hates the media.”

At the foundation of this problem is distrust and a belief that the media are biased. Alarmingly, almost nine in ten Americans believe members of the media are regularly influenced by their personal views when covering politics.

The problem is so obvious, according to columnist Charles Krauthammer, writing in Newsday, “That it would take a mollusk to miss the pattern.” The exact pattern in question, according to Krauthammer, countless other critics, and much of the American populace, is the media’s liberal bias.

Charges of bias fly, and sociologist Herbert Gans, for one, wor-

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