Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Barone

Why conservatives aren't hired by mainstream media

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

BRILLIANT!!!

Media hypocrisy revealed...

Now if he only would do a column on bias in academic hiring....

or just link to Toms comments on military history and the academy....

dcat said...

I'm still not certain what we mean by "Mainstream Media," which has become a catchall in lieu of "liberal media" of late. What makes something "mainstream" versus non-mainstream? Is it an inability to compete in the world of ideas? Is the Washington Post mainstream? If so, is the Washington Times? Is the New York Post mainstream? Is the Wall Street Journal? Is the fact that more newspapers in the US are conservative than liberal not a factor at all? That of the top 20 circulation newspapers in the US, there is no clear liberal bias on the editorial page and that things might, if anything, go the other way? Where is the actual evidence in Barone's piece? A couple of unattributed quotations? And of course the major flaw in the Kurtz piece is that whole assertion that no one goes from the National Review to the Times. Well, ok. Whetever that means How many go from the New Republic to the NY Post? When one frames the question and the evidence in one way, of course it is going to come out the way you want it to. That is not proper use of evidence. Barone's post is sloppy and does not even bother to investigate his claims -- better just to assert them ipse dixit than to figure out if he is actually right.

As for academic hiring, no one has shown one scintilla of evidence of hiring bias yet across the academy. A huge part of the problem is one of supply, not necessarily of demand. I am not saying there are not biases. But show me the actual evidence -- beyond anecdote, beyond one or two campuses -- before simply making an assertion that might or might not have any actual basis in fact.

I agree with Tom's assessments about the paucity of military historians in the academy, ditto diplomatic and political hsitory. Furthermore, I have worked hard in my own department to make sure that conservative candidates, if we can divine their politics, which anyone who has ever sat on a search committee and read dozens of applications knows is almost impossible to do anyway, get a more than fair shot. Then again, the power nexus in our department is conservative, so I have seen no bias at all here, and where I have, it could just as easily run the other way. (One of my colleagues is on a search committee in another discipline and one of the candidates is gay. One of the members of the committee, an avowed and loud conservative, used anti-gay slurs after the candidates phone interview ended. that is hardly representative of my university, but it is still out there.)

But it is a dramatic overstatement both to assert that there are not conservatives all over academia and to maintain that there is systematic bias in hiring conservatives. The fact that Duke and Brown (the two most common examples pulled out by those who maintain that the academy is biased) are filled with liberals is of no moment -- what do you suppose the political situation is at Liberty and Oral Roberts? Do we know the politics at texas tech? What about at Texas Tech's branch campuses? The University of Wyoming? The North Dakota college and university system? Sul Ross State? keene State College? The answer is, we do not know these things. And we sure as hell do not know that there is hiring BIAS, a pretty ballsy accusation to make unless you have any idea what goes on during the university hiring process. If you are going to impugn people's professional integrity, you ought to have the facts to back it up.

dcat

Paul said...

It seems pointless to have this debate again, but here are four things the mainstream media do that annoys conservatives: (mainstream media- outlets that claim to be objective, but demonstrate liberal bias)
1. wording of headlines that try to lead readers to a certain conclusion
2. passing polls off as news in an attempt to influence public opinion
3. misuse of the language and use of PC language in an attempt to influence public opinion (domestic spying, undocumented workers, insurgents)
4. those idiotic, accusatory questions that the DC press corps reporters ask during news conferences

I think Barone was just trying to add to the evidence of liberal bias, not pass off one anecdotal 'gotcha' story as evidence.

Atlas said...

Dcat,

Here is one piece of evidence. Is this really all made up?
http://www.mrc.org/biasbasics/biasbasics3.asp

dcat said...

Paul --

I'll address your points one by one:

First off, your definition of "mainstream media" leaves a good deal to be desired, as it automatically disqualifies any conservative paper or network from being in the mainstream. So are you saying that the Wall Street Journal, which has a circulation signbificantly higher than that of the Times and washington Post (higher combined, in fact) is somehow not mainstream where the Times is? Your definition itself is so ideological that it is nothing more than an accusation.

1. wording of headlines that try to lead readers to a certain conclusion

beyond not being certain of what you mean, this is neither evidence for or against media bias one way or the other. ASre you honestly saying that the washington post is worse in this respect than the washington Times? It is not. headline writers are notoriously bad at capturing the essence of their stories -- if you have ever written a piece for the media and have included a headline for it, they ALWAYS change it, and rarely for the better. i agree that this is a problem with journalism. It has nothing to do with libetalism or conservatism.

2. passing polls off as news in an attempt to influence public opinion

Again, what does this have to do with liberalism, conservatism, or the mainstream media? Fox and the WSJ and the Washington Times and almost every media source relies on polls, as do political candidates. It is simply wrong to assert that this is a problem on one side and on the other. if you want to say that all journalists should be better, i agree. If you are saying that pools are a probolem (I note that Atlas refers to a site based solely on polling data down below -- so i guess you disagree with his post? or do you simply oppose polls when those polls don't bolster your side?)

3. misuse of the language and use of PC language in an attempt to influence public opinion (domestic spying, undocumented workers, insurgents)

I'm not sure what "PC languae" means, and I'm curious what word you would use in lieu of some of those words that would eb LESS biased, as opposed to biased toward your own views. All three of those examples that you cite may be flawed, buit there is nothing inherently liberal about them. If you have been paying attention to the divisions in the republican Party over immigration and the "domestic spying" situations, you would be aware of this. I'm also not certain what word you would prefer instead of "insurgents" in Iraq. So yet again, i am happy to discuss this on the merits, rather than as a hamhanded slap at the media that does not happen to be true.

4. those idiotic, accusatory questions that the DC press corps reporters ask during news conferences

I honestly have no idea what this nearly useless generalization means. Do some reporters ask idiotic questions? Sure. And that includes paid GOP operatives planted by the administration, as we now know. But do we know that idiotic questions are systematic or have proliferated? Not only would I bet that you have no data beyond anecdotal evidence, but I bet that there is no evidence, because the press corps askes tens of thousands of questions a day, most of which, I would surtmise, are in fact not idiotic.

One of the problems I have here is your utter willingness to impugn literally thousands, tens of thousands, of people who are involved in journalism, who work hard, who try their best to be fair and judicious and honest. Who in many cases bend over backward. Which brings me to Atlas --

Yours, however well intended, is the classic example of an ad hominem approach to this issue. Your post attempts to aver bias by the press coorps becuse of who they are. I will forgo, for now, the selective nature of the polling data you cite, the fact that the vast majority of journalists do not work for the places polled, that more people watch and trust their local news than the national networks, that more people read their local papers than the national ones you cite, and that any polls that do not include tham are thus inherently flawed and patently an attempt to skew data. I will instead take you on your own terms -- reporters are democrats, editors as well, but not to the same degree. OK. We know that. Now so what. The question is whether or not the product the media produces is biased, not who is doing the work. Unless you think that someone is incapable of doing their job without manipulating the system so that those biases come out -- unless, again, you are impugning the integrity of those doing the work -- then what you need to prove is that the outcome is liberal, and on top of that, that the outcome is wrong, false, flawed, or whatever. And I find it curious that you do not include publishers -- the people who dictate the policies to begin with. Editors only have as much leeway as their publishers allow, which oftentimes is not as much as we would like. So no one is saying that those results are made up. It is that they do not tell us what we need to know. If someone is biased and cannot do their jobs, then that goes both ways. So, if we change slightly to discussions about academia, and we say that liberal professors are incapable of being fair in the classroom, then the same holds true for conservatives. i would posit that it would be a horribly bad idea for conservatives to try to right wrongs by saying "we are incapable of keeping our biases out of the classrom, and we want to inculcate students." yet that is essentially the claim that you and the website you claim seem to be making when you simply post a lot of data that only shows that in some places reporters and editors are Democrats. That fails the "so what?" test. It does not prove bias, it tells us nothing about the product they produce, it does not say what you think it says.

dcat

Atlas said...

Dcat-


I agree with your logic, but you are missing the larger point. Looking at the facts taken separately, you seem correct. However, if you apply the reasonable man test to the combination of the two generalities, who these people are, who they vote for, and the evaluation of the fairness and objectiveness of their output, say on the pages of the New York Times, or over the airwaves of the big three networks, the results are clear to all but the most myopic. There is a left leaning bias and it permeates the mainstream media. I realize that you are loathe to admit that. I speculate that you rather like it that the news focuses on the Valarie Plame "scandal" or the "unlawfulness" of the NSA wiretapping program, etc. By these news deliverers choosing what is most important and in what light to present it, it makes it easier for those with your political persuasion to take as a given certain facts which are not given, but rather up for debate. This is just my take, let the reader decide for himself. You do a fine job protecting the integrity of this institution, regardless of the quality of that integrity.

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