"If you hooked network news reporters and producers to polygraph machines and asked them, 'Do you think you are guilty of liberal bias?' most would almost certainly answer, 'no.' And they would pass the polygraph test because they're not lying," he wrote. "They honestly believe what they're saying. And that's the biggest problem of all."1
Goldberg did not write anything in his book that most Americans did not already assume to be true. According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 48 percent of Americans believe the media is too liberal, while only 15 percent believe it is too conservative.2 (Ironically enough, the study also showed that both Democrats and liberals are more likely to trust the media and perceive no bias.)
Of course, popular opinion means nothing without evidence to back it up, and fortunately, there is plenty of evidence to support the opinion that the media is liberally biased.
In his well-renowned study "The Media Elite," Professor S. Robert Lichter found that of the 238 journalists he randomly surveyed from the top media outlets, 54 percent identified themselves as liberal while only 17 percent identified as conservative.3 These journalists also tended to vote mostly Democrat and support liberal positions on economic and social issues. While this study may be over 30 years old, subsequent surveys have shown, time and again, that the majority of journalists in the media identify as left-of-center, vote for Democratic candidates, and support liberal positions on economic and social issues.4
In spite of such surveys, liberals have insisted that the media is not really liberal, but conservative. As liberal pundit Keith Olbermann explained on his former MSNBC show Countdown, "the media which is, after all, owned by corporations, naturally leans to the right. Corporations, by definition, lean to the right, towards the status quo."5
Notice how Olbermann insinuates that corporations "by definition" are conservative (which begs the question of which dictionary he used to obtain his "definition"), and therefore, the media is conservative because it is owned by corporations. Never mind that the Top 100 corporations in the Fortune 500 donate more to liberal political groups and candidates than they do to conservative ones.6 Never mind that most mainstream media executives and employees donated heavily to Democratic candidates, especially to Barack Obama, in the 2008 election.7 And never mind, of course, that Olbermann hosts his show on the overtly left-leaning MSNBC (which also hosts fellow liberal pundits including Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Dylan Ratigan, Ed Schulz, and Lawrence O'Donnell) which is owned by General Electrica corporation that donates heavily to Democratic candidates and lobbies mostly for liberal causes.8 (Olbermann now works for Current TV, which is owned by former Democratic vice president Al Gore). No, the media is conservative becausewellOlbermann's dictionary says so.
Olbermann then proceeded in a manner similar to a piece on the left-wing blog BartCop.com to list 25 conservative voices in the mainstream media (28 if you include Bill O'Reilly, Bernard Goldberg, and Glenn Beck, which were not part of the list but mentioned earlier in the segment).9 Four things about the people on Olbermann's list:
1) A few of them (John Stossel, Neal Boortz, and Matt Drudge) identify as libertarian, not conservative (though technically, they are right-wing libertarians).And yet even when confronted with the overwhelming evidence that the majority of journalists in the mainstream media identify as liberal, support liberal causes, vote for liberal candidates, and work for liberal corporations which tilt the news towards a liberal slant, liberals will remain unfazedworse, they will reply with perhaps the most blatantly and willfully ignorant response any supposedly critically-thinking human being can think up: "Reality has a liberal bias!"
2) Most of them are either on Fox News (Sean Hannity, Mike Huckabee, Neil Cavuto, Brian Kilmeade) or talk radio (G. Gordon Liddy, Michael Medved, Laura Ingram, Lou Dobbs)and therefore make up a small portion of the mainstream media (if you consider AM radio "mainstream").
3) The majority of them are commentators, not journalists, who offer opinion, not news. (And they openly admit that their opinion is conservative, which is more than can be said of Olbermann who claims not to be liberal, but American!10)
4) Even if we ignore the top three points and include these 25 people as part of the mainstream media, that still does not negate the fact that the majority of journalists in the media are liberal, thus making the media liberal.
Yes, ever since satirist Stephen Colbert uttered this line at the at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner,11 liberals have been mindlessly regurgitating it (just as they do with their other talking points: "Tax The Rich!" "Bush Lied! Kids Died!" "Keep Your Laws Off My Body!" "Fox Lies! Fox Lies! Fox Lies!"), and it has been plaguing the web in comment sections, discussion threads, and internet memes ever since.
"Reality has a liberal bias."
Sometimes I wonder what drugs liberals heavily abused in order for their malfunctioning brains to think up such a response. Were they shaken by a British Nanny? Were they dropped on the head too many times? Do they drink out of the toilet? Do they honestly live in the same countrynay, the same realityas I do? If so, I fear them driving down a busy highway or operating heavy machineryor worse, running for office!
"Reality has a liberal bias."
Yes, to liberals, it does not matter that the media has a liberal bias because, apparently, so does reality. After all, if the media is supposed to report on the facts, and the media reports on a story with a liberal bias, then one can only
"Reality has a liberal bias."
Such was the title of a Huffington Post article by blogger Bill Swadley, who stated that "the reason almost all news outlets other than the most right-wing (you know who you are) can readily be accused of having a liberal bias regardless of how diligently they try to stay in the middle of the road is this simple explanation. Reality has a liberal bias."12 He corroborated his statement with three examples where reality allegedly favored liberals: climate change, healthcare reform, and taxing the wealthy. The saddest part (for Swadley, at least) is that these three examples can be easily debunked with reality.
Let's start with climate change. While it is true that earth's climate has been changing in recent years (as it has been ever since the earth first came into existence), it has yet to be proven with concrete scientific and empirical evidence that the earth's climate has been warming, let alone due to human activity. Contrary to what liberals or the media (or both) will have you believe, climate science has yet to be perfected. This is especially true considering that climate scientists in the 1970s once believed that the earth's climate was cooling, and thus leading to another ice age.13 In fact, three different scientific analyses have suggested that the Earth is heading into a "mini Ice Age" due to recent low solar activity.14 Even NASA scientists, upon discovering that Earth's oceans have significantly cooled since 2003, have admitted that global warming has experienced a "speed bump."15 Add other "inconvenient truths" like how Arctic temperatures were warmer in the 1940s16 and how many glaciers which were once receding have started advancing again,17 and the case for global warming falls short.
But let us assume that global warming is scientifically accurate. Who is to say that it is caused by human beingsother than liberals, the media, and the alleged "scientific consensus" (which doesn't exist, considering many scientists do not believe in man-made global warming, having signed petitions such as the Statement by Atmospheric Scientists on Greenhouse Warming,18 the Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change,19 and the Global Warming Petition Project20)? In order to prove that humans are responsible for global warming, liberals like Al Gore have used temperature charts that show how rising carbon levels in earth's atmosphere (created by human activity, of course) allegedly correlates with earth's rising temperatures; yet closer examination of these charts show that, in many cases, temperature actually rose before carbon had.21 Liberals try to explain this away by claiming that carbon both causes and is caused by rising temperatures, which is sort of like saying that high cholesterol both causes and is caused by heart attacks. Either high cholesterol causes heart attacks, or heart attacks cause high cholesterol. Either carbon causes global warming, or global warming causes carbon. It cannot be both!
The next example Swadley gives is healthcare reform. Liberals claim that universal healthcare is far superior to our current healthcare system, but as with climate change, reality does not agree with them. Obama's Healthcare Reform, rather than help uninsured Americans, will not only leave millions uninsured,22 but will also raise costs and premiums and slash Medicare.23 Speaking of which, not only is Medicare (another example of universal healthcare) on the verge of going broke,24 but it also denies more claims than private insurers25 and is rejected by many medical professionals due to expenses.26 As for European healthcare, while Great Britain's National Health Service is praised by liberals as a shining example of universal healthcare, it is often forced by budget cuts to pass draconian measures such as shutting down hospital wards,27 banning life-prolonging cancer medication,28 and even forcing hospitals to turn over bed sheets rather than clean them.29 Even British Health Secretary Andrew Lansley argues that the NHS faces a financial crisis due to a rising ageing population and rising drug prices: "Put simply, if things carry on unchanged, this would mean real terms health spending more than doubling to £230billion. That is more than £7,000 a second twice as much as we are spending today. This is something we simply cannot afford."30
The last example Swadley gives (and perhaps the easiest to debunk) is taxing the wealthy. Contrary to what liberals claim, the rich do pay their fair share in taxes. The richest one percent pays roughly 40 percent of the country's total income tax31 and nearly 28 percent of the total tax burden,32 while the top 10 percent pay 60 percent of the total income tax and roughly 57 percent of the total tax burden. In contrast, the bottom 2 percent pays less than 3 percent in total income tax and less than a fraction of a percent of the total tax burden. If the rich don't pay their fair share, it is clearly because they pay more, not less.
And that's only three examples of how reality fails to have a liberal bias, contrary to what liberals like Swadley believe. There are many more beliefs liberals have that do not match up with reality (many of which I have debunked in previous essays including "100 Questions For Liberals"33 and "Top 10 Economic MythsBusted!"34).
But does this suggest that reality has a conservative bias? Absolutely not. Like liberals, conservatives have plenty of beliefs not based on reality (many of which I have also debunked in "100 Questions For Conservatives"35). Reality itself has no bias. It is simply reality. And the more we learn about reality, the less relevant our older ideas become, making way for new ones. This is why we should keep an open mind, hear both sides of an issue, and then follow the facts to see where they lead us.
I myself, despite being the conservative libertarian I am, have kept an open mind and changed my political beliefs over time. For example, I once believed that prayer should be mandated in public schools; but after reading the Constitution and discovering a little something called the Establishment Clause, I decided mandatory school prayer would be unconstitutional. I once thought that drugs like marijuana should remain illegal and that stricter drug laws should be legislated; but I took a 180-degree turn on the issue after realizing that keeping drugs illegal does not eliminate drugs, but rather pushes them into the black market to be distributed and controlled by drug lords and gang members.
This is why conservatives like myself protest against liberal bias in the media and advocate for a more objective media where all sides can be presented and heard. This is why Fox News, despite its blatant conservative bias in spite of its motto of being "fair and balanced," allows the opinions of liberal commentators like Alan Colmes, Geraldo Rivera, Juan Williams, Greta Van Susteren, Shepherd Smith, Bob Beckel, Kristen Powers, Mara Liasson, Bill Shulz, Susan Estrich, and Ed Henry. Even Bill O'Reilly, whose "No Spin Zone" contains plenty of conservative spin, invites liberal guests onto his show to debate him (though he spends most of the time yelling at them)which is in stark contrast to Keith Olbermann, who prefers his echo chamber where every one of his guests nods in agreement with him.
Because liberals do not care about presenting all sides to an issue. They do not care if the media slants towards the left. They simply do not care about other people's opinions. Why should they? They already believe they are right. (Reality is on their side, after all!) That only means everyone else is wrong. Objectivity would only get in the way of the truthor rather, their truth (which to them is the only truth).
This is why liberals like Keith Olbermann mock the "false god of objectivity," which they believe places facts before truth.36
This is why liberals like Rachel Maddow will stand by their stories,37 even when they are proven to be false by independent fact-checking websites like PolitiFact.38
This is why liberal organizations like Media Matters (which are tax-exempt non-profit organizations39 that are forbidden by law from engaging in partisan political activity ) will run campaigns calling for the overthrow of Fox News.40
This is why liberal researchers release biased studies claiming Fox News viewers are misinformed41 (while said studies themselves are grossly misinformed42).
And this is why so many liberals like Keith Olbermann,43 Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher,44 Glenn Greenwald,45 Daniel Denvir,46 Chris Hedges,47 and Dennis Trainor, Jr.48 chastised (or rather, nearly castrated) Jon Stewart for criticizing both the left and the right (as opposed to the right, and only the right) at his Rally To Restore Sanity for having sensationalized and politicized the media.49
The ironic part is that, according to Roget's Thesaurus, being "liberal" is synonymous with being "broad-minded" and "unbiased"and if their attitude towards bias in the media is any indicator, then liberals are the polar opposite of their synonyms, being "narrow-minded" and "biased."50 What else do you call a group of people who claim reality is on their side, especially when it is not?
And it is a real shame, too, as liberals like the great philosopher John Stuart Mill were once regarded for being open-minded. As Mill once wrote: "In the case of any person whose judgment is really deserving of confidence, how has it become so? Because he has kept his mind open to criticism of his opinions and conduct. Because it has been his practice to listen to all that could be said against him; to profit by as much of it as was just, and expound to himself, and upon occasion to others, the fallacy of what was fallacious. Because he has felt, that the only way in which a human being can make some approach to knowing the whole of a subject, is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind. No wise man ever acquired his wisdom in any mode but this; nor is it in the nature of human intellect to become wise in any other manner."
1. Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News. Bernard Goldberg. (Regency Publishing, 2001)
2. Distrust in U.S. Media Edges Up to Record High. Lymari Morales. (Gallup, Sept. 2010)
3. The Media Elite. S. Robert Lichter. (1981)
4. In the Tank: A Statistical Analysis of Media Bias. John Perazzo. (FrontPage Magazine, Oct 2008)
5. Keith Olbermann Destroys the Myth of Liberal Media Bias. (PoliticusUSA, Dec. 2009)
6. Funding Liberalism With Blue-Chip Profits. Sarah Haney and David Hogberg. (Human Events, Aug 2006)
7. Obama, Democrats got 88 percent of 2008 contributions by TV network execs, writers, reporters UPDATED! (Washington Examiner, Aug 2010)
8. GE employee Olbermann insists corporations are inherently conservative. Timothy P. Carney (Washington Examiner, Dec 2009)
9. The Myth of the "liberal" media. (BartCop, Dec. 2000)
10. Anchor Olbermann counts on commentary to boost MSNBC's ratings. Mackenzie Carpenter. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 2006)
11. Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner (2006)
12. Reality Has a Liberal Bias. Bill Swadley (Huffington Post, Mar 2011)
13. Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 1974)
14. Earth may be headed into a mini Ice Age within a decade. Lewis Page. (The Register, June 2011)
15. Short-Term Ocean Cooling Suggests Global Warming "Speed Bump." Erica Hupp and Dwayne Brown. (Sept. 2006)
16. Would CO2 Emission Cuts Save Arctic Ice and Reduce Sea-Level Rise? Christopher Monckton (Science And Public Policy Institute, Apr. 2009)
17. There Is No 'Consensus' On Global Warming. Prof Richard S. Lindzen. (Wall Street Journal, Dec 2009)
18. 1992 Statement by Atmospheric Scientists on Greenhouse Warming.
19. The Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change
20. Global Warming Petition Project. (Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine)
21. Climate myths: Ice cores show CO2 increases lag behind temperature rises, disproving the link to global warming. Catherine Brahic and Michael Le Page. (New Scientist, May 2007)
22. Senate health-care bill would still leave millions uninsured. Perry Bacon Jr. (Washington Post, Jan 2010)
23. Report: Overhaul would raise health care costs. (Associated Press, Dec 2009)
24. Trustees: Key Medicare Program Will Exhaust in 2024. (C-SPAN, May 2011)
25. 2008 National Health Insurer Report Card. (American Medical Association, 2008)
26. When Doctors Opt Out. Marc Siegel. (Wall Street Journal, Apr 2009)
27. Hospital wards to shut in secret NHS cuts. Jon Swaine and Holly Watt (The Telegraph, Mar 2010)
28. Life prolonging cancer drugs to be banned because they cost too much. (Daily Mail, Mar 2009)
29. Hard-up hospital orders staff: Don't wash sheets - turn them over. Daniel Martin (Daily Mail, Apr 2007
30. Why the health service needs surgery. Andrew Lansley (The Telegraph, Jun 2011)
31. Historical Effective Federal Tax Rates: 1979 to 2005. (Congressional Budget Office, Dec 2007)
32. "Table T07-0294 - Distribution of Federal Taxes Under Pre-EGTRRA Individual Income and Estate Tax Law, By Cash Income Percentiles, 2007." (Tax Policy Center, Aug 2007)
33. 100 Questions For Liberals. (Blame The 1st!, Aug. 2011)
34. Top 10 Economic MythsBUSTED! (Blame The 1st!, Oct. 2011)
35. 100 Questions For Conservatives. (Blame The 1st!, Aug. 2011)
36. False promise of 'objectivity' proves 'truth' superior to 'fact.' Keith Olbermann. (MSNBC, Nov. 2010)
37. Rachel Maddow Defends Her Reporting To Politifact, Takes On Her Anti-Gay Critics. Jack Mirkinson. (Huffington Post, Feb 2011)
38. Rachel Maddow says Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year. (PolitiFact, Feb. 2011)
39. Media Matters Puts Tax-Exempt Status in Jeopardy. Elizabeth MacDonald. (Fox Business, Aug. 2011)
41. Fox News Viewers Are The Most Misinformed: Study. Jack Mirkinson. (Huffington Post, Apr. 2010)
42. Fox News Viewers Are Misinformed Study, The Critique. Lee Doren. (HowTheWorldWorks, Dec 2010)
43. Keith Olbermann Talks About The Rally To Restore Sanity. (Nov. 2010)
44. Bill Maher vs. Jon Stewart: Maher Takes On Rally To Restore Sanity. Alex Leo First. (Huffington Post, Nov. 2010)
45. The perils of false equivalencies and self-proclaimed centrism. Glenn Greenwald. (Salon, Sept. 2010)
46. Jon Stewart, Your Rally Is Laughing-at-You Funny. Daniel Denvir. (Huffington Post, Sept. 2010)
47. The Phantom Left. Chris Hedges. (Truthdig, Nov 2010)
48. An Open Letter To Jon Stewart re: "The Rally To Restore Sanity." Dennis Trainor, Jr. (No Cure For That, Oct. 2010)
49. Jon Stewart Explains The Purpose Of The Rally To Restore Sanity. Frances Martel. (Mediaite, Oct 2010)
50. "liberal." Roget's Thesaurus