A report from UCLA has the amazing news: “Media Bias Is Real”! Who would have thought it? A press release from the university summarizes the painstaking research of Tim Groseclose, a political scientist at UCLA, and Jeffrey Milyo, an economist from the University of Missouri. These two scholars, aided by twenty-one research assistants, spent ten years combing through U.S. media coverage. Their findings, due out momentarily in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, reveal the extraordinary scoop: there is “a systematic liberal bias” in U.S. media! “I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican,” Mr. Groseclose said. “But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are.” Compared to members of Congress, Mr. Milyo added, major media outlets are “quite moderate, … but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left.” Extraordinary! We never would have guessed.

There were a few surprises in Messrs. Groseclose and Milyo’s findings. For example, out of twenty “major media outlets” they studied, the news pages—as distinct from the editorial columns—of The Wall Street Journal ranked number one as the most liberal, beating out even CBS’s Evening News (remember Dan Rather?) and The New York Times, which took second and third place respectively in this dubious sweepstakes. It is unclear how Messrs. Groseclose and Milyo managed to distinguish between the news and the opinion columns of The New York Times. It’s become a specialized talent. We can’t do it, nor do we know anyone who can, though perhaps with twenty-one research assistants we could make a creditable try. In any event, although the results of this study were hardly earthshaking, we are glad to see them published under the aegis of a university—hitherto an institution unremarkable for acknowledging liberal bias. Perhaps Messrs. Groseclose and Milyo will now turn their attention to the university itself. U.S. media revealed a liberal bias by a factor of eighteen to twenty; what do you suppose the numbers would be if the subject were the university?

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 24 Number 5, on page 1
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