Study says conservatives more negative
August 5, 2003 10:21 AM   Subscribe

This WP commentary discusses a new Harvard study says the conservative editorial pages are more intensely partisan, and far less willing to criticize a Republican administration than the liberal pages are to take on a Democratic administration. Of course a liberal reporter did the study, but Mr Kurtz of the WP thinks his findings are well-balanced. I'm liberal, too, so I've got my biases, but I've felt this way for a while. I mean where's the liberal equivalent of Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Sullivan, Bill O'Reilly, or Anne Coulter? People full of vindictiveness, name-calling, and outright hatred and condemnation?
posted by Red58 (43 comments total)

 
Wow.

Yeah. Wow. Ummm..... pass.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:30 AM on August 5, 2003


Fark Tag = Obvious. Where's the surprise that the bloodthirsty neanderthal maggots that like in the rotted woodwork of the far-right would be far faster to accuse, condemn, and character-assasinate those who would oppose them? Goose-stepping little no-nothing cenobites that they are, it doesn't surprise me one bit that their vapid, poisonous lying dogma is predicated on world domination and oppression.

Us lefties, on the other hand are nice people.

(Yes. There is a joke inherent...)
posted by Perigee at 10:34 AM on August 5, 2003


Here is a New Yorker commentary from this week on roughly the same issue.

Good to think about. . .And I would love to listen to an Al Franken call-in talk show, but I have too much of a life to listen to much radio. . .
posted by Danf at 10:36 AM on August 5, 2003


Doonesbury's take.
posted by ednopantz at 10:40 AM on August 5, 2003


When your position makes no sense and indeed is contradicted by the events of daily life, you have to tune in to your regular ration of spew to be reassurred. When the lies on which you base your existence are readily knocked loose by facts, you need to have them reasserted at regular intervals. It's basically the same approach they use in North Korea.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2003


Metafilter: we report, you decide.

*crickets*

C'mon, I'm kidding!

*louder crickets*
posted by UncleFes at 10:45 AM on August 5, 2003


Um, Michael Moore?
posted by twsf at 10:57 AM on August 5, 2003


Um, twsf?
posted by Space Coyote at 10:58 AM on August 5, 2003


twsf, this is neither the place nor the time to post observations on the state of the emperor's wardrobe.

A little decorum, man!
posted by UncleFes at 11:01 AM on August 5, 2003


George_Spiggott - ... and fundementalist Christians. Your point is well taken.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:02 AM on August 5, 2003


I mean where's the liberal equivalent of Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Sullivan, Bill O'Reilly, or Anne Coulter? People full of vindictiveness, name-calling, and outright hatred and condemnation?

Have you never read MetaFilter?
posted by gd779 at 11:03 AM on August 5, 2003


Michael Moore, Maureen "I won't post a correction when I misrepresent something the president said" Dowd, Paul "Enron" Krugman, etc. etc. etc.
posted by swerdloff at 11:04 AM on August 5, 2003


I tease because I love.
posted by gd779 at 11:04 AM on August 5, 2003


Paul "Enron" Krugman

Krugman is as accusatory and hateful as O'Reilly and Limbaugh? Or were you just taking a swipe at him? I'll tell you what, let's lock up everyody who has ties to enron, mkay?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:07 AM on August 5, 2003


Somebody say something Godwinny, so somebody else can say something about saying something Godwinny, and really get this un-ball rolling.
posted by kablam at 11:07 AM on August 5, 2003


twsf, this is neither the place nor the time to post observations on the state of the emperor's wardrobe.

A little decorum, man!


When Michael Moore gets a newspaper maybe one could take that comment as having a point. Otherwise it's just the first item drawn out of the easy-red-herring gift basket.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:07 AM on August 5, 2003


To paraphrase Dave Barry, I realize the following is a gross generalization. But as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care.

This study's findings don't surprise me, though I'd certainly shy away from labeling them authoritative. And in fact I think there is a definite connection between conservative publications' unwillingness to criticize a conservative administration and the ascendency of right-wing pundits.

And that is the conservative/Republican ability and willingness to remain united and on-message. It's that the movement, such that it is, is united on many key issues and realizes that even when there are differences, even less would be accomplished by throwing stones at a leadership that will go to bat for most or much of what the movement as a whole wants or believes in.

Democrats/liberals, on the other hand, perceive themselves more as individuals, tend to be revolted by anything reeking of the herd mentality, tend to want to make their own decisions on all issues, no matter how incongruous, and definitely want to avoid labels. Democrats are more likely to criticize Democratic policies with which they differ, even if only by miniscule degrees. And the inability to keep public disagreement under the rug, ultimately, weakens the policy.
posted by kgasmart at 11:09 AM on August 5, 2003


Michael Moore comes out with a book every 7 years and a movie every 4. He can hardly be considered a commentator on politics with that kind of output. He has no TV show. He has no radio show.
Of course, when he does speak, or write, or direct, it is liberal propoganda at it's (best) worst.
posted by graventy at 11:09 AM on August 5, 2003


Add Carville to Moore. Also, when writing an FPP, it's best to include some semblance of balance. You might wish to link here, or here, to remove the agenda from this agendafilter post.
posted by trharlan at 11:11 AM on August 5, 2003


You were all warned.

Oooh, agenda! Agenda! Agenda!! Someone has an Agenda!! Someone said something that makes me feel uncomfortable and uneasy, I'd better put a stop to that.. I'll bet he's got some hidden motive, that's it.. I'd better jump up and down and shout him down just in case!

Honestly, The Leader in Documenting, Exposing and
Neutralizing Liberal Media Bias
is supposed to be an appropriate balance to a study which merely counted columns in either 'positive' or 'negative' columns? Please get off the computer and go buy some perspective for a quarter.

If the so-called 'agenda' was to get newspapers to examine their own editorial positions, then good for them. I'm sure it has more do do with that and less to do with bringing about world communism or whatever it is that keeps good conservatives up at night.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:21 AM on August 5, 2003


I mean where's the liberal equivalent of Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Sullivan, Bill O'Reilly, or Anne Coulter?

How about Robert Scheer, Paul Krugman, and Molly Ivins?

For a start, take a look at Lying in Ponds, which tries to assess the partisanship of political columnists on both liberal and conservative sides. It finds lots of idiots on both sides, who can't seem to say anything bad about their own side, or anything good about the other.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:38 AM on August 5, 2003


I remember reading someplace that liberal thinking tended to be more consensus-driven, while conservative thought tended to rely on empiricism and historical precedent. Since many media pundits are far out of the bell-curve of their respective ideologies, this tendency is probably exaggerated. So the survey doesn't surprise me.

The liberal tendency to value consensus over clarity is, in my view, one of the worst things afflicting the Democratic party these days. It relates directly to the problems the Dems are having in elucidating a message: a quick, no-nonsense "this is what we're about" message that voters can understand.
posted by mrmanley at 11:39 AM on August 5, 2003


Space Coyote: Who, exactly is "jump(ing) up and down" here? If perspective can be had for a paltry two bits, then maybe a kindly merchant in your neighborhood would be pleased to trade you some decorum for an exclamation point or two. You have them to spare, apparently.

While there's a bit of "agenda" in the linked article, Red58's commentary has it in spades.

Honestly, The Leader in Documenting, Exposing and Neutralizing Liberal Media Bias is supposed to be an appropriate balance to a study which merely counted columns in either 'positive' or 'negative' columns?

I think it's a perfectly acceptable counterweight to the poster's contention that the pundits he cites are "People full of vindictiveness, name-calling, and outright hatred and condemnation".
posted by trharlan at 11:54 AM on August 5, 2003


Gore Vidal, once a voice of reason, has turned into a loon. Alexander Cockburn is too concerned with being clever to make legitimate points. Noam Chomsky will put any reasonable person to sleep. Hen Hertzberg is only playing the devil's advocate. Jim Hightower, a smart man, sounds like an illiterate chipmunk. Phil Donahue and Studs Turkel are worn out. Michael Moore is a polemicist, not a thinker. Garry Trudeau hasn't been funny since 1978. Molly Ivins is only a part-time political writer. Christopher Hitchens sold out after years ago. And Al Franken and Bill Maher are about as centrist as you can get.

Sucks, doesn't it? At least Krugman's still writing cogently.
posted by ed at 11:55 AM on August 5, 2003


And Arianna Huffington.
posted by ed at 11:56 AM on August 5, 2003


I mean where's the liberal equivalent of Rush Limbaugh, Andrew Sullivan, Bill O'Reilly, or Anne Coulter?

I wish you hadn't asked this question, Red58, because it's completely unrelated to the article or the study, and now it's the only thing being disussed.

The point isn't that there aren't liberal equivalents of these people, but that there exists a fairness gap between left and right that (supposedly) can be measured. I'd much rather hear what people think about that.
posted by Hildago at 12:27 PM on August 5, 2003


Hildago: but that there exists a fairness gap between left and right that (supposedly) can be measured. I'd much rather hear what people think about that

I think "10 events" is a very small sample size, and by choosing certain events, the "study" can be (and might be) easily manipulated.
posted by trharlan at 12:30 PM on August 5, 2003


left, right ...that's entertainment
posted by larry_darrell at 12:30 PM on August 5, 2003


Paul Krugman??

Oh, now I get it. So, the more facts, education, awards and prestige the commentator has, the more biased they must be.

For your education (that is, leftist brainwashing), you can read about Krugman's relationship with Enron.

Or perhaps you're more interested in his resume. Here, the important parts are:
Professor: Yale, MIT, Stanford and Princeton
Awards: John Bates Clark Medal, Adam Smith Award, Nikkei Prize, and Alonso Prize.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:32 PM on August 5, 2003


I think "10 events" is a very small sample size, and by choosing certain events, the "study" can be (and might be) easily manipulated.

Actually it would seem taht they fudged their data the other way, given that study was nice enough to exclude the pounding Clinton took from all sides for the BJ he got that time.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:37 PM on August 5, 2003


Christopher Hitchens sold out after years ago.

Um, to whom?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:45 PM on August 5, 2003


God I *hate* having to read the links, dammit.

OK, first: the Washington Times? Hardly national in scope, and virulently partisan, far more so than the Times or Post are. Second, trharlan's right, 10 events to do not a trend make. Third, I would challenge the comparability of the events in the Bush and Clinton administrations - for better or worse, the effects of 9-11 and the Lewinsky investigation are their, and their impact cannot be accurately determined and eliminated (personally, I think that 9-11 affected Bush's editorial position far more than Lewinsky did to Clinton, albeit in opposite directions).

In the end? apples and oranges, and made the worse for the political leaning of the author. And further: so what? I mean, is the point here to say that the Washington Times is unabashedly pro-Bush, while the Post and Times are more covertly pro-Democrat? If so, I believe I first read that study in Duh Magazine. I can only think that, like the Berkeley-produced "psychology of teh conservative" treatise we hashed over a couple weeks ago, that this is simply partisanship and stereotyping dressed up in academic language - the same tar-brush as Limbaugh et al, but with bigger words.

The whole "my team is better/smarter than your team!" game is fun - for a while. But it is not conducive to any sort of considered debate. Reasonable people on both sides can discuss issues reasonably and without rancor - even to the point (yes! it's true!) of conceeding that the other side may indeed have a valid point of view.

Stop that snickering! It could happen!!
posted by UncleFes at 12:48 PM on August 5, 2003


Actually it would seem taht they fudged their data the other way, given that study was nice enough to exclude the pounding Clinton took from all sides for the BJ he got that time.

That's what I was thinking when I read this the first time. The data could perhaps come from more newspapers, but the methodology seems good enought to at least launch discussion/inquiry.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:51 PM on August 5, 2003


Have you never read MetaFilter?

LOL, that was also the first thing to pop into my mind. Noam Chomsky also fits, but he's probably more anti-American than anything else.
posted by gyc at 2:39 PM on August 5, 2003


As for the "have you never read MetaFilter" comment, well, sure there are plenty of liberals here (grin) but since when did we become prominent national pundits? And since when has Chomsky been getting the same coverage Coulter gets? There are no liberal equivalents to the famous vitriolic conservatives. Moore may be a match for slant, but he's not a match for meanness.

Second, there’s “duh” value in Tomasky’s findings only if you already believed that the media include conservative as well as liberal slants and that the conservative slant is often more intense than the liberal slant is. Personally, I know few conservatives that believe that. So when I see analyses that attempt an objective method for assessing slant (which trharlan’s two links lack), I’m interested. I keep trying to persuade my conservative friends that empirical tests show that this “liberal media bias” they decry has an energetic conservative counterpart. They don’t want to hear.

But for those of you who think 10 events are too few to expose a meaningful pattern, follow Slithy_Tove’s Lying in Ponds link, which has come to similar conclusions as Tomasky based on more than a year of daily analysis. I also highly recommend Spinsanity for general slant debunking.
posted by win_k at 2:52 PM on August 5, 2003


I think "10 events" is a very small sample size, and by choosing certain events, the "study" can be (and might be) easily manipulated.

That's why I said supposedly.
posted by Hildago at 4:24 PM on August 5, 2003


Yeah, that Noam Chomsky is like all over the radio and television and everything. Can't turn around without him, like, dissin' the red white and blue, or whatever he does that's all like unamerican and shit.

I would venture to guess that 80% of the people who pull Chomsky's name out of some convenient orifice every time they're pressed to name an honest-to-god leftist have never read a word he's written, and about 18 of the remaining 20% have only read select quotes of him in columns by right-wing pundits, and are basically just doing the dittohead thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:46 PM on August 5, 2003


Yeah, that Noam Chomsky is like all over the radio and television and everything. Can't turn around without him, like, dissin' the red white and blue, or whatever he does that's all like unamerican and shit.

Not unless you're a college student, I guess. That and I can't pick up an alternative weekly w/o reading his disciples quoting him at will. I'll say that I've seen more of him on TV than Ann Coulter.
posted by gyc at 8:03 PM on August 5, 2003


I've seen more of him on TV than Ann Coulter.

Well really, why would you expect to see him on Ann Coulter? I wouldn't think she'd be his type at all, or vice-versa for that matter.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:16 PM on August 5, 2003


Excellent point Mr. Spiggott. Its classic conginitive dissonence and a symptom to treat the anxiety and fear is constant indoctrination. Ideology and religion are not that different.

>Not unless you're a college student, I guess.

Oh please. I call bullshit on thee. I goto an urban college with two different campuses (one downtown for CS, law, and business) and a general quad-type campus and I find next to little in terms of Chomsky, Zinn, etc. What I do find is mainstream papers like the Trib or the Sun-times or their free equivalants. Both papers have a free version that is very lowest common denominator friendly. Imagine a watered down Chicago Tribune mixed with People magazine.

Our school paper is about as controversial as a bake sale. The whole notion that college kids are rabid leftists is a ridiculous straw man but I'm sure it gets lots of play on talk radio.

>That and I can't pick up an alternative weekly w/o reading his disciples quoting him at will.

I've seen that, but hardly enough to justify the Chomsky everywhere nonsense. He's easy to quote because there's a lot of foreign policy criticism in his work and if you haven't noticed we're at war, again. Also, I find the rabid anti-Chomskys unable to refute his arguments or evidence. Its just Chomsky Chomsky Chomsky. Its like the name is name calling itself.
posted by skallas at 1:58 AM on August 6, 2003


Our school paper is about as controversial as a bake sale. The whole notion that college kids are rabid leftists is a ridiculous straw man but I'm sure it gets lots of play on talk radio.

The only people who think colleges are breeding grounds for radical lefties have not been to college at all, or at least not in the last 30 years. On previous discussions of this topic here and elsewhere, usually when pressed the person screaming about the liberal bias in higher education can usually point to one professor that they thought was too vocal in their liberal bias. That's one professor out of a likely 40 per college career. (5 classes per term, 8 terms).

Apparently conservatives have never heard of the academic fields of economics, finance, management, accounting, or any of the fields in the Business department, with the possible exception of marketing.

Yeah, all those MBA students, radical liberals that they are, that the schools keep churning out by the hundreds of thousands. How do the conservatives stand a chance?
posted by Ynoxas at 6:48 AM on August 6, 2003


Yeah, all those MBA students, radical liberals that they are, that the schools keep churning out by the hundreds of thousands. How do the conservatives stand a chance?

These MBA students are OK, because they still largely use money as the primary judge of success. It's those fancy-schmancy PhDs in their ivory towers who don't have a proper respect for capitalist classism what with their publications and tenure who are so much trouble. Anytime someone seeks a goal other than financial success it's bound to arouse suspicion. :)
posted by Space Coyote at 9:55 AM on August 6, 2003


George_Spiggott: nice of you to think so. but i think you underestimate your opponents.
Chomsky is a propagandist of the best (worst) sort. A huge factual knowledge coupled with a convenient ability to cover over the facts that don't fit his model (which is the same; the guy haven't really changed his views in 30 years; quite a pity state for a thinker which he markets himself to be and which he is if you ignore his political diatribes). And I cannot move around, politically speaking, without someone pulling Chomsky into the discussion (I don't know of someone stupid enough to quote O'Reilly on the other hand)
(and i've been to plenty of his talks, read 3 of his books, and half-took his class).
posted by bokononito at 11:24 AM on August 6, 2003


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