Pairing "biased" media

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Mon Jul 13 16:40:53 UTC 2009

It would be well to make a distinction between "biased" and "having a point of view".  In my vocabulary, "biased" means dishonest reporting -- willfully omission of material information, disregard or misrepresentation of dissenting opinion, falsification. . . .
The curs who yelp about the bias in liberal media are much more likely to maintain their point of view on poverty, climate change, evolution, and other topics the right wing holds in scorn, with dishonest reporting than is the Times or NPR.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>
Date: Sunday, July 12, 2009 1:49 am
Subject: Re: Pairing "biased" media

> I think it's hard to find really good matched pairs, especially if
> you're just looking at reporting and not opinion.  For one thing,
> although many conservative news sources make no bones that they are
> using their perspective in giving priority and context to news
> reports, liberal news sources typically take the position that they
> present the news straight and restrict editorializing to the editorial
> pages.  (The Wall Street Journal does this too, and Fox News says it
> does, but nobody believes them.)  In reality, news sources that take
> this approach have biases to their reports too, but they typically are
> for institutional rather than conventional political reasons (e.g., to
> protect a news source or improve access) and tend to be more subtle.
> Another problem is that many news sources deliberately run a mix of
> conservative and liberal reports; MSNBC is the most prominent example
> of this.
> The best current newspaper example I've seen is the one below, the
> Boston Globe (liberal) v. the Boston Herald (conservative).  If you
> want a counterexample of newspapers that have a political view but
> minimize the effect on the news pages, you could cite the New York
> Times (liberal) and the Wall Street Journal.  For a greater contrast
> (but less obvious pair), you could use the St. Petersburg Times
> (liberal) and the Washington Times (conservative).
> On television, I don't think there really is a liberal channel.
> However, the Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow shows on MSNBC
> (liberal) would be good matches to the Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly
> shows on Fox News (conservative).
> On the radio, Air America is explicitly liberal and could be
> contrasted to Premiere Radio Networks.
> John Baker
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Joel S. Berson
> Sent: Sat 7/11/2009 2:25 PM
> Subject: Re: Pairing "biased" media
> Victor's suggestions are useful.  And I must remember the Boston
> Herald, the newspaper of record in my (and my friend's) metropolitan
> area, and accessible--at least the day's issue--to her
> students.  (It's remarkable how few libraries hold copies of the
> Herald beyond a few days or weeks.)
> But I'm hoping first of all for bias, apparent or hidden, in
> "reporting"; I'll turn to "opinion" second.
> The simplest assignment might be to say "Find the same event reported
> in the Herald and the Globe, and compare".  Or maybe PM (alas;
> although there's a new biography of I. F. Stone) and the Daily News.
> Joel
> At 7/11/2009 01:17 PM, Victor wrote:
> >Hmmm... Fox vs. CNN is not really a fair comparison of *bias*. CNN may
> >appear neutral on average, but that does not mean that that they are
> >uniformly neutral. Lou Dobbs is always a great source of xenophobic
> >bias, so it's not exactly "opposite" from Fox. The same is true of
> >NYT--depends on topic and human subject, although columns usually show
> >bias (see below). For the most part, however, CNN may appear biased (to
> >the left) only to those who regularly watch Fox News.
> >
> >On the other hand, if print sources are desired, Washington Times and
> >WSJ editorial page are great sources of bias in one direction. Boston
> >Herald and NYPost columnists are also a good source of bias on the
> >right. On the other side, most (but not all) columnists in the Boston
> >Globe. NYT is one of many who try to balance their editorial content.
> >Once you know who the conservative columnists are (and exclude Maureen
> >Dowd from consideration), the rest can be used for left-leaning bias.
> >
> >Generally, there are several sources that collect "conservative"
> >columnists. The two largest (and largely overlapping) are
> >and regurgitation receptacle. I can't really
> >think of a comparable source on the left. Of course, if you really want
> >deteriorating prose and constant insults, there are always blogs.
> >
> >    VS-)
> >
> >Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> >>Also Fox vs. CNN.  Fo also goes out of its way to bash the N.Y. Times
> >>whenever possible.
> >>
> >>You have to be very observant to ascertain that Fox and CNN are
> reporting on
> >>the same country.
> >>
> >>JL
> >>
> >>On Sat, Jul 11, 2009 at 9:05 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at> wrote:
> >>
> >>A friend wants to teach a session on bias in the media in her ESL
> >>class.  She would like to have pairs (one or more on each side) of
> >>media outlets (or whatever they're called) that have diametrically
> >>opposed biases/slants/opinions -- television, newspaper, and magazine
> >>pairs.  Particularly outlets that let bias creep into their
> >>reporting, as opposed to those that try to keep opinion separated and
> >>identified.
> >>
> >>For example, Fox News vs. (I think, but I do not watch it) MSNBC.
> >>
> >>Suggestions welcomed.
> >>
> >>Joel
> >
> >------------------------------------------------------------
> >The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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