Talk:Media bias in the United States

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Partisan/Political party bias in the Media[edit]

The intro mentions ideological bias, which is important, but doesn't mention partisan and political bias in the media. When you listen to news and read studies and survey results; what is most often discussed is political, partisan bias in American media. It's what is felt and known by the people in a practical manner. Some media are almost extensions of the Democratic party or the Republican party at various degrees. Fox is known and often discussed as being biased in favor of the Republican party. CNN are considered to be in favor of the Democratic party. It's important to discuss any kind of bias as reflected by news, studies and surveys about it. Said in another way, partisan/political bias is common knowledge, often discussed, it's important to mention to. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:54, 2 June 2019 (UTC)

Archive of prior discussions[edit]

Archive 1 through 2005 Archive 2 through June 2006

media bias in 1930s[edit]

Ford's paper showed very high bias in 1920s. It stopped. The section on 1930s--esp BUND--says zero about the media or its bias. Recommend using sources listed in History of antisemitism in the United States to cover antisemitism in 1930s -- keeping in mind this article is about media bias. Rjensen (talk) 16:41, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

What's missing = RS that analyze the Jewish role in the media bias in 1930s re foreign affairs. RS agree that Jews dominated Hollywood but that they did NOT want to antagonize Berlin and did not support pro-war or anti-Nazi films. For this debate look at Felicia Herman, "Hollywood, Nazism, and the Jews, 1933-41." American Jewish History 89.1 (2001): 61-89. online -- ask me for an email copy at Rjensen (talk) 18:38, 6 February 2019 (UTC)

Some statistics that may be of interest to include in the page[edit]

Only 7.1% of the journalists in the USA identified as Republicans in the year 2013:

According to another survey only 4.4% of all finance journalists in the USA consider themselves right of center:

David A (talk) 11:21, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

"only 4.4% of all finance journalists in the USA consider themselves right of center"

Are the rest purely right-wingers or supporters of the far-right? Because the United States lacks a leftist press. Where are the socialist, communist, anarchist, and social democratic factions of the press? Dimadick (talk) 16:33, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

The rest apparently consider themselves either centrist or left-leaning. Regardless, these seem to be relevant statistical facts to include in the page. David A (talk) 09:45, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Also, journalists can still be leftist, even if they do not embrace Communism/Socialism. David A (talk) 09:55, 20 February 2019 (UTC)

Since Reagan, the moderate right has been branded as "far left", and the extreme right has been branded the "moderate right". Both Democrats and Republicans want the world's richest people and corporations to get richer. The difference between the parties is that the Democrats want at least a little bit of the vast wealth of the United States to go to the workers, while the Republicans call any increase in standard of living for the working class "socialism". The reporters are overwhelmingly Democrats not because they are biased, but because they are paying attention. This article must not confuse telling the truth with bias. Rick Norwood (talk) 13:04, 21 February 2019 (UTC)

This is an important point that is lost in discussion of media bias. The old adage has it that one becomes more right-wing with age. Reading the work of Bob Woodward, he reads more conservatively now than he did in the 70s, and a lot of print journalists are older. Of course it would not be at all surprising to find that the American print media has a liberal editorial bias, but the evidence that this affects factual reporting seems scant to me from my reading. If anything they err on the side of false balance. At the same time, the right wing media has veered dramatically to the right, as shown by, e.g., Network Propaganda. Broadcast media is more polarised - MSNBC to the left, Fox to the right - but all mainstream media distinguish between opinion and fact and, regardless of personal position, attempt to check their biases at the door. This is an asymmetric situation and has contributed towards the rise of things like climate change denial and Christian nationalism. Journalists assume that the people they are talking to are acting in good faith, so have tended to give equal weight to legitimate scholarship and deliberate propaganda. Guy (Help!) 17:13, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

Intro includes some biased language[edit]

The last sentence of the intro appeared as:

"CNN and MSNBC are known by the public to be biased in favor of the Democrats while Fox News is biased in favor of the Republicans."

I made one change I think is uncontroversial, to:

"CNN and MSNBC are considered by the public to be biased in favor of the Democrats while Fox News is considered to be biased in favor of the Republicans."

But, firstly, I'm not sure if that's actually true. There's no source cited. Second, it seems like a non-productive way to frame the question. US media bias isn't just a bifurcated, partisan split, as the rest of the entry documents.

I say find reputable survey support or strike the entire line entirely.

The problem isn't that there wasn't a source. The problem is that this line and its references to specific networks is not important enough to include in the lead. This article is about the broad topic of media bias in the United States. We discuss Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC in the article, but only as components of conservative and liberal bias. The lead already states "Claims of media bias in the United States include claims of liberal bias and conservative bias," which accurately summarizes the article. Dyrnych (talk) 00:53, 2 June 2019 (UTC)

Far too much focus on opinion pieces.[edit]

This article places far, far too much focus on opinion pieces, think-tanks, and cites to WP:BIASED sources. We can cite those to illustrate an opinion, yes, but opinions and responses ought to be confined to one section - the bulk of the article needs to focus more on what reliable secondary sources that we can cite for facts say about bias. It's something that has extensive research, so there's really no reason why we should devote so much of the article to opinions. --Aquillion (talk) 21:10, 13 August 2019 (UTC)

A closely related problem (such as at #Claims of Censorship of Conservative Content) is that the article is a compilation of examples of supposed bias, which is not a workable approach. This is selective. Why would we emphasize supposed examples of censorship while ignoring incidents which directly undermine this narrative? The example that comes to mind is this recent story of Youtube paying, profiting from, and promoting a literal neo-Nazi? If borderline outrage journalism pieces (like the The Washington Times) get entire paragraphs, should we also lard the article with counter examples?
Obviously, I don't think this would work. As Aquillion says, we need to summarize reliable, independent sources, not add breaking news as it happens, based on our particular preferences as editors. Grayfell (talk) 00:08, 14 August 2019 (UTC)
@Aquillion and Grayfell: many apologies, I took that section to WP:RSN yesterday and there's been several useful comments. I meant to post here but forgot. Doug Weller talk 11:53, 14 August 2019 (UTC)
  • Agree. The opinion pieces all discount the more parsimonious explanation that platforms ban racism, homophobia, islamophobia and fake news neutrally, but there is a purely coincidental disparity between left and right in promoting those views. Wikipedia does not succumb tot he fallacy of "many fine people on both sides", I think. we know that Nazis are objectively bad. Guy (Help!) 17:05, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

A "study"[edit]

We have this:

A 2005 study by political scientists Tim Groseclose of UCLA and Jeff Milyo of the University of Missouri at Columbia attempted to quantify bias among news outlets using statistical models, and found a liberal bias.[1][2] The authors wrote that "all of the news outlets we examine[d], except Fox News's Special Report and the Washington Times, received scores to the left of the average member of Congress." The study concluded that news pages of The Wall Street Journal were more liberal than The New York Times, and the news reporting of PBS was to the right of most mainstream media. The report also stated that the news media showed a fair degree of centrism, since all but one of the outlets studied were, from an ideological point of view, between the average Democrat and average Republican in Congress.[3] In a blog post, Mark Liberman, professor of computer science and the director of Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania, critiqued the statistical model used in this study.[4][5] The model used by Groseclose and Milyo assumed that conservative politicians do not care about the ideological position of think tanks they cite, while liberal politicians do. Liberman characterized the unsupported assumption as preposterous and argued that it led to implausible conclusions.[4][6]


  1. ^ Tim Groseclose; Jeffrey Milyo. "A Measure of Media Bias" (PDF). UCLA. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 28, 2006. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
  2. ^ Groseclose, Tim; Milyo, Jeffrey (2005). "A Measure of Media Bias" (PDF). The Quarterly Journal of Economics. CXX (4): 1191–1237. doi:10.1162/003355305775097542. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 8, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  3. ^ Sullivan, Meg (December 14, 2005). "Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist / UCLA Newsroom". UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved March 28, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Liberman, Mark (December 23, 2005). "Multiplying ideologies considered harmful". Language Log. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  5. ^ Liberman, Mark (December 22, 2005). "Linguistics, politics, mathematics". Language Log. Retrieved November 6, 2006.
  6. ^ Nunberg, Geoff (July 5, 2004). "Language Log: "Liberal Bias," Noch Einmal". Retrieved November 12, 2013.

So: we talk up a single study, then point out that its methodology is crappy and its conclusions are based on an assumption that is clearly preposterous. As an aside, it also fails to note that the "liberal" WSJ runs an editorial line of climate change denial, which is 100% conservative, or that most Democrats in Congress align politically with reagan-era Republicans, and most observers agree that the political centre of gravity in Congress is a long way to the right.

This is a huge article, I don't think we need this section. "Two guys say X! It's probably bullshit!" is unnecessary padding. Guy (Help!) 17:00, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

A larger problem is that the way the bias sections are defined seems to imply that they will only contain studies or polls supporting the biases they allege. Rather than putting undue weight on individual studies or stringing them together to encourage a conclusion, we should probably zoom out and try to find secondary sources summarizing the topic instead. --Aquillion (talk) 17:03, 14 August 2019 (UTC)
I agree. There seem to me to be two separate subtopics: the perceived left-wing bias of mainstream media (partly legitimate and partly an effect of right wing rhetoric encompassing provably incorrect doctrines like climate change denial); and the perceived suppression of conservative voices, which is largely a side-effect of the fact that most of the worst bad actors appear to be conservatives. Guy (Help!) 17:17, 14 August 2019 (UTC)

Project Veritas[edit]

Shouldn't the various whistleblower leaks of considerable amounts of internal policy documents from the various Silicon Valley giants to Project Veritas be mentioned as objective evidence of censorship in the following section?

David A (talk) 06:34, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

See here for example:

David A (talk) 17:12, 16 August 2019 (UTC)

The above link seems to provide very concrete evidence of widespread bias and censorship against anybody who disagrees with any opinions of the Silicon Valley oligarchs, and yet this Wikipedia page falsely claims that there is no existing evidence. Shouldn't this be corrected for the sake of encyclopaedic reliability and neutrality? David A (talk) 18:32, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

Reliable sources are those which demonstrate a reputation for accuracy and fact checking. Project Veritas is not WP:RS by Wikipedia's standards. Project Veritas has a documented history of inaccuracy, deceptive editing, and distortion. Grayfell (talk) 19:31, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
How so and according to who? Publishing leaked whistleblower documents as is seems to be pretty straightforward and reliable. David A (talk) 19:44, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
David A, did you read the linked article? Guy (Help!) 20:29, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Regrettably no. I have only had the time to read summary references as of yet, as I am very overworked. David A (talk) 20:45, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! No.
James O'Keefe is a liar. The Cernekee is a far-right conspiracy theorist with a grudge ([1], [2]). We'd treat his allegations with suspicion even if they appeared in a reliable source instead of a cesspit. Guy (Help!) 20:28, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Okay, that was not a very pleasant tone of voice. Publishing leaked internal documents should not be considered as automatically untrustworthy simply because somebody disagrees with the viewpoints of the one of the people releasing them. I am pretty far left myself in terms of purely economic policy (pro-tax-financed welfare states that support all citizens, pro-heavily progressive taxation, against the concept that anybody should be a billionaire, or that unelected rich people should have a disproportionate amount of power, etcetera), but I do not at all care for any totalitarian censorship tendencies, as they are quickly undermining the concept of democracy itself. David A (talk) 20:45, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
One is not obliged to be polite about liars. O'Keefe is a liar. Check the article. Seriously, you've come here proposing a source as credible without checking it at all? That was... unwise. You seem to think that calling oneself a whistleblower confers immediate credibility, but that's not how Wikipedia works. When the only person blowing the whistle is an alt-right QAnon believer sacked for insubordination and being obnoxious to co-workers, it's safe to assume there is no "there" there.
However, this is a perfect exemplar of the "suppressed for being conservative" narrative. As the New York Times pretty much says, he was only sacked for being conservative if you consider conservative and bigot to be synonymous. Guy (Help!) 21:23, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
Look. Despite my economic views, I am a firm believer in that freedom of speech is the most important human right of all, and that true tolerance means having to put up with views that one personally finds offensive, as long as they do not actively incite violence. After watching quite a lot of Tim Pool Youtube videos, and reading news articles regarding the topic, I am extremely concerned about that Silicon Valley seems to be both systematically manipulating search results and censor anybody that they disagree with. At the end they will dictate everything, and it will be impossible to protest for anybody, as nobody will be able to make their voices heard about anything. Today it is the conservatives, who are generally not bigoted by my experience, and tomorrow the unelected oligarchs could change their minds and shut down the accounts and information of other groups, so we are entering extremely dangerous territory that could quickly turn the free world into a copy of China, social credit system included. David A (talk) 21:58, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
There are a couple of problems with this.
First, the freedom of speech is not absolute and never has been.
Second, the right to say hateful shit confers no obligation on any third party to host said hateful shit, gie it a platform, amplify it, or, especially, facilitate the use of said hateful shit as a means of profit.
Third, this is not about freedom of speech, it's a bout crappy sourcing.
This content fails our content policies. And that's it, really. Your personal belief that conservatives are not bigoted is not really relevant: it's conservatives who are locking children in concentration camps, excusing white supremacism and making it legal to deny the humanity of LGBTQ people. Those are facts, so contrary opinions don't amount to much. Guy (Help!) 22:26, 17 August 2019 (UTC)
After watching quite a lot of Tim Pool Youtube videos... Ah, there we are. Tim Pool is also not a reliable source. For journalists, fact checking and accuracy almost always mean editorial oversight. As an "independent journalist" Pool lacks that attribute and also has a poor reputation among his journalistic peers. As a youtuber, which is mainly what he does now, he's simply one of many, many pundits sharing his opinions. Those videos, as you may have noticed, disproportionately tend to criticize the left, while he goes out for beers with the alt-right on the weekends. I encourage you to find better sources for these topics. Grayfell (talk) 23:07, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

Political bias[edit]

I think we need to have a single section on poltiical bias rather than two sections where the claims of each side about the other are presented in isolation. Others have said the same. This is particularly important in the context of Benkler, Faris and Roberts' network analysis of media cross-citations and social media amplification, which shows essentially two separate and distinct media ecosystems: centre and left, which operate on a "reality check dynamic", and the right, which is increasingly isolated and "punish[es] actors – be they media outlets or politicians and pundits – who insist on speaking truths that are inconsistent with partisan frames and narratives dominant within the ecosystem". Criticisms of the mainstream media from within this bubble should be ignored, in favour of serious academic criticisms in reputable sources. Anyone who thinks Ann Coulter, for example, is a valid source for the liberal bias of the media is clearly not firing on all five pillarsGuy (Help!) 21:19, 17 August 2019 (UTC)

A combined section on political bias would be an improvement over the article's current state. The paragraph on Section 230 should also be removed, since it's not particularly relevant here. — Newslinger talk 04:09, 18 August 2019 (UTC)

Trump's "fake news" BS[edit]

Rick Norwood wants to include the following:

In 2018, President Donald Trump described what he called the "fake news" of the American press as "The Enemy of the American people".[1][2]

Aside from the fact that the Daily Beast is a shitty source for this, I think it's WP:UNDUE - yes, he has claimed this, but it's not a reality-based commentary on media bis in the United States, it's just Trump being Trump. I'm not opposed to a more comprehensive treatment fo this "fake news" lie, as that does seem significant in the right's drive to delegitimse fact as a basis for public discourse, but I'm not sure this is the right article for it, and the statement as presented is too devoid of context to be informative in any meaningful way. Guy (Help!) 11:17, 19 August 2019 (UTC)

I agree that it doesn't belong in that particular part of the article (it's not a major event in the broad overarching history of media bias in the United States - though a lot of other stuff in that section should probably be trimmed for similar reasons. All three of the last three paragraphs - Agnew, Obama, and a random poll - all seem disjointed; we should cite historians summarizing the history rather than random events. That said, both Trump and Republican politicians in general making arguments against the press could possibly be mentioned somewhere, though I'd want to cover it from secondary sources, ideally, again, more than just thinkpieces and random quotes. --Aquillion (talk) 02:52, 20 August 2019 (UTC)
  1. ^ "Trump: Media Is 'Enemy of the American People'". The Daily Beast. February 17, 2017.
  2. ^