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Thursday, June 12, 2008
New MRC Report Can't Back Up Its Claims
Topic: Media Research Center

A new report by the Media Research Center and the MRC's Culture and Media Institute purports to argue against a return of the Fairness Doctrine by claiming it's a myth that, among other things, "major corporations are muzzling liberal opinion on the radio, so Americans are not hearing both sides of issues." But this argument lacks any real evidence to support it.

The report counters claims about the dominance of conservatives on talk radio by asserting that "Public radio offers consistently liberal news/talk programming produced by four separate networks." The report offers no evidence that public radio is "consistently liberal," even though it's not shy about end-noting things (there are 54).

These kinds of baseless claims permeate the report. It similarly insists that "every major broadcasting network leans to the left," and that "No major conservative-leaning broadcast television network exists," without offering any evidence to back it up. It also claims that CNN, CNN Headline News and MSNBC are "liberal-leaning"; supririsingly, it does state that Fox News is "conservative-leaning," contrary to the MRC's longtime efforts to pretend otherwise.

It further claims that the "weekly news magazine medium," as represented by Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, "is composed exclusively of liberal-leaning sources." That's unsupported as well -- in fact, it's wrong. U.S. News has historically tilted conservative, and doesn't George Will have a column at Newsweek?

Regarding newspapers, the report claims:

America’s leading newspapers overwhelmingly tilt to the left. Twenty-one of the 25 newspapers with the highest daily circulation lean liberal, three lean conservative, and one paper fits in neither category.  The paper with the second greatest circulation, The Wall Street Journal, has a famously conservative editorial page, but the Journal’s news pages are among the nation’s most liberal, so we list the WSJ as “mixed.”

Again, no evidence is provided to back up these assertions of newspapers' political "tilt." Indeed, evidence shows the report's classifications of the "tilt" of the top 25 papers is not accurate at all:

  • The Washington Post is described as "liberal" even though it shares numerous editorial positions with the admittedly conservative Wall Street Journal.
  • The Orange County Register is described as "conservative" even though it considers itself to be libertarian
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune is described as "conservative" for reasons known only to the report's authors. The Union-Tribune was the paper that broke the story of the corruption scandal involving Republican congressman Duke Cunningham.

It's not a report, it's a polemic with a hole at the center of it -- claims about political slant it can't factually back up. Which makes it par for the course of overall MRC "research."


Posted by Terry K. at 1:02 AM EDT

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