How Media Bias Influences Americans

Professor Tim Groseclose released a book in 2011 with his eight years’ of research into political biases in newsrooms and communities. He pushed for a way to quantify someone’s ideology–to slap a number on it–with as much accuracy as possible. As a result, he developed the political quotient (PQ).

” A person’s PQ indicates the degree to which he is liberal,” Groseclose explains. “For instance, as I have calculated, the PQs of Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) are approximately 100. Meanwhile the PQs of noted conservatives Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) are approximately 0.”

The main point of his book is that most media outlets are liberal, far more liberal than their readers and viewers. Naturally, their PQ comes through in their reporting, and their perspective is moving Americans in a liberal direction. Get a rather detailed overview in this lecture to an audience at the Cato Institute.

Media bias, he says, is largely in what is not reported, “true statements they are leaving out, not false statements they report.” He illustrates this by recalling a report on voter limitations, saying nothing in the article was a lie, but there were several things that should have been stated to give proper context for the truth. Also what the press chooses to report on and what to ignore shows their biases (Van Jones being a communist, for example).

If it were possible to remove the influence of media bias on Americans, what would the result be?

In the preface, he offers this explanation.

In such a world, American political values would mirror those of present-day regions where the average voter has a 25 PQ. Such regions include the states of Kansas, Texas, and South Dakota. They also include Orange County, California and Salt Lake County, Utah.

To the liberal elite, such places are a nightmare. They are family-friendly, largely suburban, and a large fraction of their residents go to church on Sundays. “Ahh, don’t cross the Orange Curtain,” a Hollywood acquaintance once said to another Hollywood acquaitance, referring to a visit to Orange County.

In an episode of the Sopranos, Tony goes into a coma after being shot. He dreams that he is stuck in a hotel in Costa Mesa (a town in Orange County). He and the other guests of the hotel slowly realize that they are not free to leave. The hotel, many believe, was intended by the Sopranos writers to represent Purgatory.

To the liberal elite, that’s the way the world would be if media bias were to disappear—like Orange County, not quite hell, but a step in that direction.

I copied that section from PowerLine, which has the preface, introduction, and all of chapter eight in blog posts.

Update: Case in point, 60 Minutes is still arguing that Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were not spies, largely by the evidence they don’t present.

One thought on “How Media Bias Influences Americans”

  1. When in contact with the media, I try to remember that the media isn’t trying to inform me, it’s simply trying to engage me. So if they can inform me of a boring truth or a controversial theory, they will most likely pick the theory because it is more engaging. I like the point made about how what press chooses to ignore shows their biases.

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