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Friday, November 23, 2018
MRC Promotes Report on Media Bias That Reflects The MRC's Biases
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Corinne Weaver writes in an Oct. 17 post:

Is Google News neutral? Not according to a new report that studied the issue and determined that its results were skewed liberal.

AllSides, a media technology group, spent two weeks analyzing Google News’ homepage and determined that news outlets with a left-leaning bias were always at the top of the list. The study determined that out of 123 individual measurements, 65% of the news links provided were liberal, while only 16% of the links were conservative. That’s a 4-to-1 ratio. 20% of the links given were considered to be from a middle perspective.

The study pointed out that the positioning of the news was very important. Overall, left-wing news tended to be in the top two results, and right-wing news was always below the fold, 12 positions down.

AllSides wrote, “The numbers are so significantly strong and consistent in favor of news media sources from the left that the overall conclusion of a leftward bias is well justified.” Later on in the study, it stated, “AllSides analyzes the news on a daily basis and have often found it difficult to find perspectives from the right when using Google News.”

In the methodology, AllSides noted that sites like ABC, Buzzfeed, CBS, CNN, NBC, NPR, Politico, Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Huffington Post were heavily favored, while sites like Breitbart, The Blaze, The Daily Caller, Fox News, and the National Review were almost always below the fold. Even some of the news considered to be in the center wasn’t necessarily neutral, as the study included NPR, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, and BBC.

91% of the 123 measurements “indicated at least some preference for news media with a left bias over sources with a right bias.” It went even further: apparently 80 percent of the 123 measurements preferred left-wing news over news from a center source.

First: Note how Weaver conflates "liberal," "left-leaning" and "the left," as if they all mean the same thing. Second, any "report" that buys into the MRC's ideological idea that any news outlet that is not blatantly conservative must be on "the left" is suspect. And this one certainly is.

AllSides claims to be about eliminating "filter bubbles" so people "can better understand the world — and each other." But its media bias rating system questionable. It states that it uses "patented media bias detection and display technology," but it also incorporates public opinion as well. That's problematic in an age when organizations like the MRC spend millions of dollars a year to perpetuate the notion of "liberal bias" in the media and the president denounces anyone who fails to report on him less than positively as "fake news" and "enemies of the people." That sort of propaganda can't help but skew the results.

AllSides' report, like Weaver, occasionally differentiates between "lean left" and "hard left" but more often not  just uses "left," as if there was no difference between the New York Times and Mother Jones. The report apparently did not rate the alleged bias of individual articles highlighted in Google News, just that of the outlet.

AllSides also clearly buys into the right-wing idea that because most journalists are liberal , news outlets are therefore liberal:

There are far more news sources on the left than on the right, and it is well documented that individual journalists (that the Google algorithm might automatically recognize as more credible, and therefore their clicks and linking behavior would have greater-than-average influence on Google’s relevancy score) are much more likely to have views on the left, to the left of the average American. This would likely skew search results toward the left.

Considering the fact that online news consumers tend to be younger and lean farther left than the rest of America, that would also likely skew search results toward the left.

AllSides, like conservative anti-media activists, ignore the idea that liberal journalists working for a mainstream media outlet do generally endeavor to be fair and balanced in their reporting, while conservative journalists working for conservative outlets feel no such constraint.

This report seems to have swallowed whole much of the MRC's guiding anti-media philosophy. No wonder Weaver liked it.

Posted by Terry K. at 11:29 AM EST

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