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UCLA study which found "liberal bias" in media was discredited by MMFA

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ck4829 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 10:09 AM
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UCLA study which found "liberal bias" in media was discredited by MMFA
In recent days, news outlets including CNN cited a study of several major media outlets, "A Measure of Media Bias" (pdf) by political scientist Timothy J. Groseclose of UCLA and economist Jeffrey D. Milyo of the University of Missouri-Columbia, purporting to demonstrate that America's news content has "a strong liberal bias." But the UCLA-led study employed a measure of "bias" so problematic that its findings are next to useless. In addition, the authors -- apparently new to media content analysis -- seem unaware of the substantial scholarly work that exists on the topic, yet they do cite a number of right-wing sources to provide support for their claims.

Given the study's conclusions (that the media is replete with liberal bias) and the study's failure to acknowledge its authors' conservative pedigree, it is not surprising that a number of conservative news outlets picked up the story, as did a few mainstream outlets. Conservative MSNBC host Tucker Carlson interviewed Milyo about the study on the December 19 edition of MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson. The study was also cited by anchor Jack Cafferty during the December 20 edition of CNN's The Situation Room; on the December 19 editions of Fox News' Fox & Friends and Special Report with Brit Hume; in a December 19 article in The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee; and in a December 20 Investor's Business Daily editorial by Edward R. Stephanopoulos. CBS News' Public Eye weblog also featured a post about the study.

None of the outlets that reported on the study mentioned that the authors have previously received funding from the three premier conservative think tanks in the United States: the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), The Heritage Foundation, and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Groseclose was a Hoover Institution 2000-2001 national fellow; Milyo, according to his CV (pdf), received a $40,500 grant from AEI; and, according to The Philanthropy Roundtable, Groseclose and Milyo were named by Heritage as Salvatori fellows in 1997. In 1996, Groseclose and Milyo co-authored a piece for the right-wing magazine The American Spectator, titled "Lost Shepherd," criticizing the then-recently defeated member of Congress Karen Shepherd (D-UT) and defending her successor, Enid Greene (R-UT); when the piece was published, Greene was in the midst of a campaign contribution scandal and later agreed to pay a civil penalty after the Federal Election Commission found (pdf) that she violated campaign finance laws.

If we remember, this study found that the Drudge Report was Liberal. Let's take a look at some other strange things found in the study.

NRA - Barely Conservative (That seems odd to me)

RAND Corporation - A group with ties to the Defense Department was found to be Liberal

ACLU - CONSERVATIVE (This is the nail in the coffin right here, I love the ACLU and all, but something must be wacky if anyone finds it to be "Conservative")

http://mediamatters.org/items/200512220003
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 10:13 AM
Response to Original message
1. Hmmmm.
For the purposes of this study Conservative means "Not on TV Constantly." Hey, no Conservative are on TV constantly. Does this prove a liberal bias? Not necessarily, because, for the purposes of this study, we've defined liberals as "smelling vaguely of avocados."

Bryant
Check it out --> http://politicalcomment.blogspot.com
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 10:14 AM
Response to Original message
2. ACLU = conservative depends on your definition
of "conservative." After all, the ACLU is trying to conserve something, our rights to free speech, a free press, and freedom from religious bullying on the part of the state.

However, his bias was revealed when he cited Pox News as his benchmark for centrism.

This study has also been thoroughly debunked by previous studies at FAIR, studies that provided real names and numbers and didn't rely heavily on anecdote and the personal bias of its observers.
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MannyGoldstein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 10:20 AM
Response to Original message
3. I Wrote A Piece Debunking This..
"Proving" Media Bias - The Right Pretends To Do Science

Courtesy of my good friends at NewsBusters, I see that the crack team of Groseclose and Milyo are once again touting their pretend science project that purports to identify and measure Liberal bias in the news media. Basically, the paper claims to scientifically prove that The Drudge Report is neutral, Fox and the Washington Post are to the Right, and everything else is to the Left.

I was first introduced to this work roughly a year ago, when I was sent a link to their paper by a Right-leaning friend of mine. I actually took the time to read the 29 pages in the hope that I might learn something - instead, it simply confirmed my hypothesis that the Right is science-challenged.

Here are my comments from my original read of this work a year ago - I'll reread and update my comments if I get a chance:

Some of their methodology is interesting, some is way off, and its conclusions are extremely unsubstantiated by the findings. Based on the quality of the work, if this was an article in a medical journal it would end up in a fourth-rate journal, next to the article that "proves" that amalgam fillings are killing us by demonstrating that mice die when their little heads are submerged beneath the surface of a pool of mercury for an hour.

For starters, the authors didn't even attempt to justify their methodology of somehow mapping news outlets to the ADA rating for members of Congress. There are easier and better ways to measure bias, so why was this chosen? Given that the authors are from the fringe-right (betrayed by their adoption of the bizarre affectation of substituting "Democrat" when "Democratic" would be correct), I'll bet we know why - it simply "proved" their point better than any reasonable methods they tried.

Second, they don't include any data that tells us whether the differences observed between media outlets were statistically significant or not. Even when when one is measuring what one purports to be measuring, a test of statistical significance is needed to know if any measured differences were likely due to a real affect or dumb luck - this measurement is a fixture of all actual scientific papers. The really stupid thing is that their probably was statistically significant, but they probably couldn't figure out how to do the math.

As far as I can tell, here are the only conclusions that one might possibly draw from this work:

1. Most media outlets studied are pretty close to one-another, bias wise. (Seems correct)
2. Drudge is significantly to the right of "the pack". (Seems correct)
3. Fox is significantly to the right of the Drudge. (Seems correct)
4. So, either all outlets are biased, or only one of the above three groups is unbiased.
5. Based on ADA ratings, Republicans in Congress are far further to the Right than Democrats are to the Left. (This supports the observation that the Republicans have become an extremist fringe element.)

The article utterly flys off the rails when it somehow claims that it can measure absolute bias (i.e., deviation from reality) rather than relative bias (i.e., deviation from each other). Unless I'm missing something, there's no way to measure absolute bias without having a measure of the absolute truth to compare to. Being from the fringe-right, these fellows won't let reality get in the way (no sir!), and they proceed to wander off into Wonderland.

A very simple example will show how far off these muttonheads are. Suppose that, in aggregate, the "Liberal" think tanks issue twice as many press releases per year as do the fringe-Right think tanks. One would expect that the responsible news media, whose duty is to simply report the news, will have something like twice as many references to "Liberal" think tanks as compared to Right-wing think tanks. This would simply be accurate reporting. However, based on this "scientific" paper's methodology, the press would be rated as extremely "liberal" for just reporting the straight truth.

Feh.

(from my site, http://www.blueworksbetter.com)
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
4. They've really got a hard-on for UCLA, don't they? A couple of
weeks ago they were offering to pay Benjamins for students to spy and report on the "leftie" profs, now their funding these shills. What's next? If I were a dept. head or President, I'd hire a con student to start my car every day.
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
5. "its findings are next to useless..."
Edited on Mon Feb-20-06 10:35 AM by depakid
Gee, do ya think? LOL.

Question is- why would a guy like this so transparently skew his data to come up with what was obviously a preconceived conclusion?

I know that dishonesty rules the roost these days, but even so- this guy's reputation in academia is shot.

Someone must have paid him a lot of money (or blackmailed him).

I mean- check out his Curricula Vitae. Not someone you'd expect to behave this way- wingnut or not:

http://www.polisci.ucla.edu/faculty/groseclose/pdfs/vita.pdf
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KoKo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
6. Kick and Recommend. I wasn't aware of this UCLA study, nor that it
was being passed around as "truth" by Tucker Carlson and Jack Cafferty.

I did read the "Media Matters" study and it was actually reported on by NPR on Saturday. I wonder if any of the Cable Shows will touch the Media Matters study since it seems to soundly refute the UCLA Study. Probably not because they prefer to play the "liberal media" game because it covers there taking talking points fromt the Right Wing Think Tanks and this Adminstration.


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kenny blankenship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-20-06 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
7. Sounds like sociology studies that might have been written in Nazi Germany
Drudge report, RAND corporation liberal?
This pair of "researchers" are insane. That's like university sociologists under Hitler surveying the Hitler youth and pronouncing it "not Fascist enough".
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