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Monday, December 27, 2010
NewsBusters Leans on Discredited Media Bias Study
Topic: NewsBusters

The Media Research Center's idea of good research is any work that confirms its anti-"liberal media" worldview (as its own shoddy research demonstrates).

Mark Finkelstein, in the midst of using a Dec. 24 NewsBusters post to insult the New York Times' Paul Krugman over his description fo a "well-developed right-wing media infrastructure" to "rapidly disseminate bogus analysis to a wide audience" and that there is "nothing comparable on the left" (he bashes the Times as the "Humbug Express" and that "cider bowl at the New York Times Christmas party" was "spiked with some wacky wassail weed, and that Paul Krugman drank deep—very deep—from it"), drops this bit of logic:

On the port side, we'd start of course with none other than Krugman's own home base of the New York Times.  Include every other major newspaper with the exception of the Wall Street Journal [and even there its non-opinion pages point left].

Finkelstein's evidence that the Journal's news pages "point left" is a 2005 study by Timothy Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo. Finkelstein doesn't mention, however, that the Groseclose-Milyo uses some highly questionable reasoning that skews its results.

As Media Matters pointed out at the time, Groseclose and Milyo's bizarre methodology was to examine the floor speeches of selected members to Congress to see which think tanks were referenced, then analyzed whether news coverage of the speeches mentioned the think tanks. If a news organization quoted a think tank mentioned by conservative members of Congress, then it was said to have a conservative "bias." Needless to say, this generates some strange results, including that the ACLU was categorized as conservative.

Groseclose and Milyo have previously received funding from right-wing think tanks like the Hoover Institution, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. Further, their study is replete with citations from right-wing sources like the MRC and Accuracy in Media and virtually none from scholarly research on media studies.

But Finkelstein is too enamored of the fact that the Groseclose-Milyo study confirms his own biases to do any substantive analysis of the results. He continues:

Add in the three broadcast networks, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, academia, Hollywood, most major foundations, and countless liberal blogs—and you have a mighty media infrastructure indeed.

And on the right? Fox News, talk radio, and some websites.  Pretty puny in comparison.

He offers no evidence to back any of this up -- if he asserts it, it must be true. He concludes: "To allay his startling symptoms, we'd prescribe for Paul a dose of reading NewsBusters for a week.  Call us after New Years if the illusions of a lack of left-wing media haven't subsided."

Yes, he seems to think cherry-picked quotes devoid of context are always evidence. It seems Finkelstein has taken the shoddy research methods of his employer to heart.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:45 PM EST
Updated: Monday, December 27, 2010 1:14 PM EST

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