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Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Shoddy MRC Research Chief Rich Noyes Retires
Topic: Media Research Center

We're a little slow to getting around to this, but Rich Noyes retired at the end of September after 22 years at the Media Research Center, where he most recently served as research director. That means he was the guy behind some of the MRC's most biased "media research" of recent years -- so-called studies that purported to quantify "liberal bias." As we've documented, the studies claimed to document things such as "spin" -- something that lacked any objective definition -- and "positive" or "negative" coverage, particularly during the Trump years, that had numerous flaws:

  1. They focused only on a tiny sliver of news -- the evening newscasts on the three networks -- and falsely suggests it's indicative of all media, even as it ignores the highly Trump-friendly Fox News.
  2. They pretended there was never any neutral coverage of Trump. Indeed, the study explicitly rejects neutral coverage -- even though that's arguable the bulk of news coverage -- dishonestly counting "only explicitly evaluative statements."
  3. They failed to take into account the stories themselves and whether negative coverage is deserved or admit that negative coverage is the most accurate way to cover a given story.
  4. They failed to provide the raw data or the actual statements it evaluated so its work could be evaluated by others. If the MRC's work was genuine and rigorous, wouldn't it be happy to provide the data to back it up?

An organization dedicated to genuine, scientific research would not tolerate such shoddy methods, but that's not the MRC is -- the results are what mattered, and Noyes merely had to tailor a method that would generate those results.

MRC executive Tim Graham did an exit interview or sorts with Noyes on the Oct. 1 edition of his podcast. Noyes got his start working for Robert Lichter, a conservative-leaning researcher who was one of the first people who tried to put an academic sheen on "liberal media bias" -- he and fellow reserarchers co-wrote a book called "The Media Elite," which helped cement that narrative among conservatives -- and whose work is the foundation of the MRC. Noyes huffed that journalists "are not an even-steven group of people. They're not a group of people reflecting the audience they claim to be working for. They are an extremely liberal group of people. As a constituency, they are far more liberal the the most liberal district in California."

From there, it was a rehash of the MRC's greatest hits: Noyes called liberals on TV "flamboyantly aggressive" but referred to nobody in conservartive media that way; Graham described Edward R. Murrow as a "hack"; Noyes referenced his studies on "negative" coverage of Trump without discussing the flaws in those studies; Graham bashed fact-checkers as having too much "arrogance." Noyes then placed responsibility for correcting media bias solely on liberals -- not only any right-wing outlet like Fox News.

In that way, people like Noyes and Graham are the arrogant ones -- they take potshots to further the "liberal media" narrative, but they will never hold their fellow right-wing outlets to the same standards. That shows how the folks at the MRC are merely partisan activists, not actual "media researchers."

Posted by Terry K. at 10:25 PM EST

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