Another Flawed "Media is Liberal" Report
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News outlets including CNN cited a study of several major media outlets by a UCLA political scientist and a University of Missouri-Columbia economist purporting to "show a strong liberal bias." But the study employed a measure of "bias" so problematic that its findings are next to useless, and the authors -- both former fellows at conservative think tanks cited in the study to illustrate liberal bias -- seem unaware of the substantial scholarly work that exists on the topic.
In recent days, news outlets including CNN cited a study of several major media outlets, "A Measure of Media Bias" (pdf) by political scientist Timothy J. Groseclose of UCLA and economist Jeffrey D. Milyo of the University of Missouri-Columbia, purporting to demonstrate that America's news content has "a strong liberal bias." But the UCLA-led study employed a measure of "bias" so problematic that its findings are next to useless. In addition, the authors -- apparently new to media content analysis -- seem unaware of the substantial scholarly work that exists on the topic, yet they do cite a number of right-wing sources to provide support for their claims.
Given the study's conclusions (that the media is replete with liberal bias) and the study's failure to acknowledge its authors' conservative pedigree, it is not surprising that a number of conservative news outlets picked up the story, as did a few mainstream outlets. Conservative MSNBC host Tucker Carlson interviewed Milyo about the study on the December 19 edition of MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson. The study was also cited by anchor Jack Cafferty during the December 20 edition of CNN's The Situation Room; on the December 19 editions of Fox News' Fox & Friends and Special Report with Brit Hume; in a December 19 article in The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee; and in a December 20 Investor's Business Daily editorial by Edward R. Stephanopoulos. CBS News' Public Eye weblog also featured a post about the study.
None of the outlets that reported on the study mentioned that the authors have previously received funding from the three premier conservative think tanks in the United States: the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), The Heritage Foundation, and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.