Free Markets, Free People

Media bias? Majority of likely voters say yes

This can’t help the mainstream media’s already battered reputation or it’s constant claim of objective political reporting:

Likely voters, by a five-to-one margin, believe that America’s media is in President Obama’s pocket and will treat his candidacy better than challenger Mitt Romney’s as the election nears, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll.

The startling numbers point to an even more disturbing trend for the media: Reporters just aren’t trusted to deliver the news in an unbiased fashion. The proof: Rasmussen found that when it comes to information about the presidential campaign, 48 percent of likely voters trust friends and family while just 26 percent trust reporters.

In fact, it’s even worse than those two lead paragraphs in the story:

The poll found that 59 percent of likely voters believe that the media has given Obama better treatment than Romney, a view Team Obama doesn’t agree with. Just 18 percent believe the media has treated Romney better.

Whether or not “Team Obama” agrees is irrelevant.  In politics, perception is reality.  And the reality is a large majority of likely voters (the key demographic) find the media both bias and wanting in terms of fair, objective and balanced political reporting.

So what is the impact of this?

Well, for one, tuning the media out.  Few people are likely to keep listening to or watching coverage don’t trust.  One of the reasons for the rise of the new media is it provides an important “other side” to the coverage of politics.

Despite their protestations to the contrary, the mainstream media has been unable to convince almost 60% of the likely voters they’re unbiased and trustworthy.  That has to come from somewhere when you talk those numbers.  And it is unlikely it is only a figment of that 60%’s imagination.  They see the bias as real and they don’t like it or trust what they consider the biased outlets.

If you’re wondering why CNN’s numbers are at an all time low or why newspapers are failing this is part of it.  Meanwhile the new media is thriving.  It may not be objective, but readers and viewers know that, because new media outlets make no bones about it.  What these outlets provide is “the rest of the story”.  And when the rest of the story comes out, and all the facts are on the table, not just what the mainstream media chose to use,  it makes the mainstream medias bias apparent.

Another reason the mainstream media is considered to be in Obama’s pocket is that instead of asking hard questions and follow up, and researching a story, they’ve become a transcription service.  Whatever the campaign or White House put out is dutifully published or announced with little or any questioning.  When that is shot full of holes by blogs and on-line news services and pundits, they again look to be biased (when, in many cases, they’re just not doing their job).

The question, of course, is with almost 60% of likely voters believing that the mainstream media is in Obama’s pocket, what effect will that have on the election.

In the past the media has, of course, played a large role in helping determine who the next president would be.  Will the 60% disregard and ignore the media?   Will they treat it as a propaganda arm of the campaign and seek their information elsewhere?  Because of the perception held by a majority of the likely voters, will the media play a diminished role in this election?

All interesting and entertaining questions which we’ll have to monitor during this election cycle. 

I remember years ago, after QandO got started and blogs began having some visibility and impact, media organizations sniffing down their arrogant noses at these upstarts who dared to question their dominance and reminding everyone the difference between some loser in the basement in his pajamas churning out his stuff and a professional organization, with trained journalists and 3 layers of editors.

Well as it turns out, that difference hasn’t mattered.  The pajama clad are still around (and pretty well established now) and the professional organizations with trained journalists and 3 layers of editors have seen their reputations and followings dwindle.

You’d think, by now, they’d be clued into the ‘why’, but apparently its like economics to the left – it just doesn’t compute.


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22 Responses to Media bias? Majority of likely voters say yes

  • One would almost feel sorry for people who are so doctrinaire they cannot perceive the reality around them.

  • “I don’t think I show bias in my TV show. I think I am aggressive with people about trying to find the facts behind what they say,” [Soledad] O’Brien said. “Am I a liberal or conservative? I’m neither. Like most Americans, I find politics very frustrating. Like most Americans, I’d like to hear from politicians the facts. That is what drives me.”

    Yep.  Straight down the middle.  Like Walter Cronkite.
    Or Erp.  Or Capitanus.  Liars and poseurs, all.

    • Well, I don’t think O’Brien or our resident imbecilic polical science professor are *lying* when they say they are not liberal/leftist/collectivist/whatever. O’Brien isn’t lying when she says she isn’t biased.

      Those things are untruths -the actions and policy preferences of O’Brien and Scottie clearly indicate that what they say about their own attitudes is false to fact. 

      Buy lying implies a conscious attempt to communicate something that the liar knows to be an untruth. These people don’t know they are saying something so false it’s obvious to everyone paying attention. They are capable of rationalization that convinces themselvs they are being fair-minded and moderate. 

      And you can’t tell them any different. Over a span of years, they develop an array of defense mechanisms to “refute” or ignore any criticism or evidence you can bring to bear. This survey, for example, would mean nothing to O’Brien. She would probably either dismiss the respondent as ignorant rubes who didn’t really know the truth, or claim to be in the vanishingly small cohort of journalists to whom the survey does not apply because they really are fair and mostly unbiased. 

      • Well, Billy, it’s a theory…  And you might be right.  Maybe.

      • “She would dismiss the respondents as ignorant rubes who didn’t really know the truth and claim to be in the vanishingly small cohort of journalists to whom the survey does not apply because they really are fair and mostly unbiased. ”
        fixed that a little, removed the either clause and replaced the “or” with an “and”   🙂
        In a way, I envy them their clueless existence, after all it’s gotta be nice to KNOW you’re right all the time don’t you think?

      • She isn’t biased, just vegetable stupid.

      • The term ‘mens rea’ comes to mind.

  • The good part of it is that the media is rapidly going extinct.  If, as a business you have a major quality problem with your customers then you can either address the issue, or you can stick your head in the sand and pretend the customers don’t know anything.
    The Dinosaur media have long done the latter and are reaping the results.

  • The paradox that faces the network and cable news businesses is that being fair and objective doesn’t keep viewers when there is no big news.   They are faced with the choice of being at least somewhat partisan in order to stake out their niche of the news market or being fair and objective while going out of business.
    In large part, the media we have is a function of what the market has demanded.  The other factors come from the makeup of journalism schools … spawned from the 60’s radicals and anti-war generation.

    • I think your “other factors” outweigh market forces. Otherwise, we would see bias roughly in proportion to the population’s own leanings. But we don’t. There’s Fox, and (if you squint your eyes) WSJ on the right. On the left, there’s NYT, USA Today, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC. Plus Time, Newsweek, Plus, unfortunately, The Economist, as of the early-to-mid 1990s.

      On the local level, for every Chattanooga Free Press that is reasonably fair and gives the right a hearing, there are any number of Nashville Tennesseans – liberal rags whose bias is evident on every front page.

      I’d agree that once a media outlet starts down a bias-strewn path, there are market forces that send them further down that path. As they lose customers on the other side of the political fence, their existing customers exert an influence towards further polarized reporting. But I think it’s the journalism community’s 1960s inspired political philosophy that started many of those outlets down the path in the first place.

    • An alternative is that followed in some other countries, where publications admit their editorial bias and readers choose what they want to peruse. The idea of an unbiased press is kind of idyllic, in many respects.

      • Back in the zenith of American newspapers, there were multiple big city dailies.  They were often unabashedly partisan, and nobody really made any pretense of being objective, though they DID practice a model much more like actual reportage.
        There is “somebody’s law” (my names curse) that holds that Collectivism actively seeks to co-opt all organizations, which I think is simply empirically true.  You can see it everywhere, and certainly in the Mushroom Media that is the consolidated business of “the press”.

        • Haven’t you heard? Having principles (aka ideals) and being prepared to argue for them is evidence of a reptile brain, and like the dinosaurs and the 20th century that business is all extinct. As I am sure any good pol sci grad can tell you it is better to turn on, tune in and drop out. It is so very wise and pragmatic you know.

          • To say nothing of “good and necessary”.  I guess I’ll just have to “watch and learn”.  (sigh)

  • I think a large part of the decline in the MSM’s credibility is due to CSPAN. It doesn’t take too many instances of watching something on CSPAN and then reading the coverage of that event to draw  conclusions about the credibility and/or competence of various news sources, old or new.
    Brian Lamb for sainthood!

  • Keep in mind also that Likely Voter probably = the most informed politically.

  • It all comes into focus when you realize they are The Borg. They’ve been assimilated. They all share in the “Hive-Mind”. There is simply *NO* other point of view. Any data-points that do not conform to Borg-Reality are considered flawed and unreliable; they get tossed aside before they can impinge on Borg-Truth-As-Revealed. (Sort of like the Warmists do with evidence of cooling, or with evidence that the big round glowing thing in the sky that makes what we call “daylight” might actually influence long-term weather on Earth. The “conflicting data” is considered the result of some kind of data-gathering error, it can’t be believed, so it gets discarded.)

    = = = = =

    The other view: When you’re a Believer, you Believe. I have NEVER seen ANYTHING as defiantly faith-based (“things hoped for, and yet unseen”) as our Lib-Prog Left. (Has anybody ever read the Left’s Holy Scriptures? I’m sure there’s a chapter that includes something similar to: “And lo, in those days there shall be rivers of public money, ever-refreshed, and all shall help themselves according to their need; yet in that time of Man’s perfection, none shall take beyond his needs, for Greed and Envy shall have been slain by the sword of Social Justice, and all men will be content with their lot. Neither will Personal Industry fail, for in those times The Producers will still work 70-hour weeks simply for the satisfaction thereof; while the Disadvantaged will happily toil at menial jobs, taking delight in the knowledge that they too are Productive Members of Society.”)

  • There’s such an array of information, and the MSM continues to go to the old well so often, that people who pay even moderate attentin can now see right through it. I think that more and more people see right through Barack as well. They’re not sure about Romney, but if he doesn’t sprout another head, I think that the odds are looking better for him.

  • I was enamored with CNN during the 92 Gulf war, fell in love with FNC later that decade.  But around 2004, I turned all TV new and commentary off.  Biases? yes that was one reason, but the vapid programing was the far more compelling reason.  Why bother with the sensationalized Inside Edition coverage of a story I had already digested the week before?  Moreover, Comedy Central, aside from South Park, lost its allure when Stewart and Colbert had to rely upon misinformation to create ‘punch lines’.
    Legacy media has no clue of their impending demise.  And they have no clue because the live in a bubble – as do most coastal elites.  With many of my friends and family, I stop trying to reason upon realization from where they get their ‘news’.  It is hopeless to talk sense with someone who thinks Rachel Maddow is the smartest person in the news.  What is astounding though, is their presumption that if I don’t like Maddow, I must love O’Reilly… or Hannity.  It is an unbreachable intellectual wall.  My views are not inspired by their favorite hated straw bogymen.  They are ill-equipped to deal with the fact that through extra-MSM sources, I can reach a conclusion at variance with theirs.
    And the utterly dismaying aspect of all this is that they think I live in a bubble – I who reads the NYTimes, the WaPost, who listens to NPR, and they who refuse to pick up a copy of the Weekly Standard or National Review, who would never tune into Hugh Hewitt or Rush Limbaugh.