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Monday, November 16, 2015
MRC 'Study' Says It's 'Labeling Bias' To Refer To Conservatives As 'Conservatives'
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center has long had a very strange and ridiculous quirk in its "liberal media bias" business model: it regularly complains that it's somehow biased for media organizations to refer to "conservatives  when reporting on conservatives.

Now, it claims to have an entire study based on complaining that it's "labeling bias" to call a conservative a conservative, at one point even complaining that it's "heavy-handed" to do so.

Rich Noyes wrote about this so-called study in an Oct. 28 NewsBusters post, to which he referred in a Nov. 7 post:

From September 25 to October 23, MRC analysts reviewed all 82 ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news stories about John Boehner’s resignation as House Speaker and the race to succeed him. CBS provided the most coverage (31 stories, totaling 54 minutes of airtime). NBC was next (30 stories, 38 minutes), followed by ABC, which aired just 21 stories (24 minutes) on its morning and evening newscasts during this period.

In these stories, MRC analysts documented how network reporters assigned a whopping 106 ideological labels to House Republicans — either to individual members of Congress, or factions within the GOP.

Overwhelmingly, the networks used “conservative” tags to talk about Republicans. Fully 98 percent of these labels (104) talked about “conservatives” or those “on the right;” just two referred to either “moderate” Republicans or a “mainstream” Republican (that would be Representative Kevin McCarthy, according to ABC’s Martha Raddatz on the September 27 Good Morning America).

One-third of the conservative labels (35) painted the targets as somehow extreme: “far right,” “hardline,” “very conservative” or “ultra-conservative.” Such deliberate labeling is designed to stigmatize conservatives, casting them as outside-of-the-mainstream ideologues, as compared to their (usually unlabeled) adversaries.

Noyes, however, fails to concede that such ideological labeling is relevant, given that Boehner's resignation was driven by conservative Republicans, who cheered the news. He also can't be bothered to review, say, Fox News to offer a comparison of how the word "conservative" is used on a conservative-friendly network. Which makes this about as meaningless as most other MRC studies.

Noyes whined that the House Freedom Caucus of farther-right conservativfes were, in fact, described as being farther right:

According to its mission statement, the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives stands for “limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law.” While the group has clearly generated a debate among conservatives about specific political tactics, there’s nothing radical about the group’s obviously mainstream conservative positions.

Network reporters also assured audiences that, despite the misgivings of some conservatives, there is no reason to doubt Paul Ryan’s conservative credentials. On the October 9 Today show, NBC’s Willie Geist said Ryan was “highly respected among conservatives and Republicans on the Hill.” Then on the October 21 Evening News, CBS’s Cordes insisted Ryan “should be a conservative’s dream Speaker.”

Noyes didn't mention that Ryan couldn't get the 80 percent support from the Freedom Caucus that would have generated an automatic endorsement from the group. Nor does he explain why Freedom Caucus members are justified in rejecting him as speaker.

Noyes bizarrely decries use of the word "conservative" in the media as away to "marginalize conservatives." It's very confused logic. At no point does he offer a term that would be somehow less marginalizing -- perhaps because he's using the word himself.

Posted by Terry K. at 7:01 PM EST

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