Some Research on Media Bias in the US

This article documents some research on media bias in the US.

The media in the US leans ideologically left. Let’s clarify what that means and show some evidence.

The media includes:

  • TV News
  • Print News
  • Pop culture and non-news TV
  • Pop culture movies
  • Pop culture music
  • Major institutions of pop culture and mass communication

Ideological leftism includes:

  • Progressivism
  • Liberalism (in the modern, American sense)
  • Socialism
  • Communism
  • Political and economic ideologies which favor an increased role, size or scope of the formal political state or public sector, such as variants of Keynesianism, Marxism, variants of Monetarism and so on.

Other ideologies may be considered by only some as leftist or liberal, including:

Leftism is such a wide coalition that it may be easier to describe conservatism and note that leftism the collection of other ideologies. Explore After Economics for a variety of material on conservativism.

That the media is said to lean left means that the media more often and/or more favorably discusses ideologically leftist issues compared to others, less often or less favorably discusses ideologically right issues compared to others, or a combination.

On to the research:

Cited over 450 times: Groseclose and Milyo, “A Measure of Media Bias.” Quarterly Journal of Economics (2005).

  • “Our results show a strong liberal bias: all of the news outlets we examine, except Fox News’ Special Report and the Washington Times, received scores to the left of the average member of Congress. Consistent with claims made by conservative critics, CBS Evening News and the New York Times received scores far to the left of center. The most centrist media outlets were PBS NewsHour, CNN’s Newsnight, and ABC’s Good Morning America; among print outlets, USA Today was closest to the center.”
  • “We measure media bias by estimating ideological scores for several major media outlets. To compute this, we count the times that a particular media outlet cites various think tanks and policy groups, and then compare this with the times that members of Congress cite the same groups.”
  • My criticism: The standard of comparing to usage by members of Congress is fundamentally skewed because the Congressional baseline is fundamentally pro-state and pro-growth in the role, size and scope of government. In conclusion, the groups labeled by the article as centrist are slight-left.

Cited over 500 times: Gentzkow and Shapiro, “Media Bias and Reputation.” Journal of Political Economy (2006).

  • Our first set of results shows that firms will tend to distort information to make it conform with consumers’ prior beliefs.”
  • Our second main result is that when consumers have access to a source that can provide ex post verification of the true state of the world, firms’ incentives to distort information are weakened.”
  • The analysis of feedback foreshadows our third result: Competition in the news market can lead to lower bias.”
  • We also show that if all firms in a market are jointly owned, bias can remain unchanged even as the number of firms gets large.”
  • The article also demonstrates that media firm action is largely consistent with a profit motive rational actor model.
  • The article doesn’t draw on particular media firms much, but it does demonstrate right-bias by Fox and left-bias by PBS.
  • My conclusion: Consider how much money government has. It even controls the money supply itself. Because it conforms to a rational actor model, a government-favoring media is a small step. Pro-government media, ceteris paribus = at least slightly left of center media. Furthermore, media ops by govt intelligence agencies are common knowledge. I could do a whole other article on this or you could Google it.

More Research

Wikipedia Articles

Non-News Media Bias

  • I would recommend two comprehensive books on the negative aspects of feminism in media and pop culture. The books are both by Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young and are called Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture and Legalizing Misandry: From Public Shame to Systemic Discrimination Against Men. I like certain aspects of feminism but I do not like the misandristic, or man hating, aspects of it. I argue that those aspects of feminism are tied to liberalism in a paper I did in my undergraduate studies that I will upload if I ever quit being lazy, but the same point is made more comprehensively in those two insufficiently recognized books.
  • Why is Hollywood So Liberal?
  • How Conservative Hollywood Became a Liberal Town

I would conclude by saying that I realize that not ALL media is biased. Media as a whole is biased, but there are factions and microcultures on either side. I have written this article on Conservatism in Media, for example.


1 thought on “Some Research on Media Bias in the US”

Leave a Comment