The "Liberal Media" claim
Source Dave Anderson
Date 99/05/01/21:52

/* Written 5:10 PM Jun 23, 1998 by in igc:labr.all */
/* ---------- "The "Liberal Media" claim" ---------- */
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 13:02:50 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: The "Liberal Media" claim (fwd)

> Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
> Media analysis, critiques and news reports
> ------------------------------------------
>June 18, 1998
>FAIR Press Release
>( read the full report at:
> )
> A new survey of 141 journalists indicates that the Washington
>press corps is more conservative than the general public on a range of
>economic issues from taxes to trade to health care to Social Security.
>The survey -- conducted for FAIR by Professor David Croteau of Virginia
>Commonwealth University -- reveals that while most national journalists
>identify themselves as "centrists," their views on bread-and-butter
>issues are often to the right of public opinion.*
> In a questionnaire targeted primarily at America's most powerful
>news outlets, journalists were asked policy questions modeled on ones
>mainstream polling firms had previously asked of the general public.
>Among the findings:
>STATE OF THE ECONOMY: The Washington press corps is far more bullish
>than the public: Only 5% of the surveyed journalists said that economic
>conditions today in the U.S. are "fair" or "poor" -- compared to 34% of
>the general public who chose "only fair" or "poor" in a recent
>nationwide poll. Most of the journalists declared household incomes at
>$100,000 or more, with 31% at $150,000 or more. (The median U.S.
>household income is roughly $36,000.)
>CORPORATE POWER: Washington journalists are more conservative than the
>public on the question of concentrated corporate power. Asked whether
>"a few large corporations" have "too much power," journalists were much
>more evenly divided than the public, with 57% to 43% responding
>affirmatively. Nationwide polls have consistently found the public to
>be quite one-sided on the question, with 77% (vs. 18%) responding in
>the affirmative in a 1995 poll.
>TAXING THE WEALTHY: The general public appears to be more populist than
>the press corps on taxation. Asked about President Clinton's 1993
>economic plan, journalists responded fairly evenly as to whether the
>plan "went too far" (14%) or "not far enough" (18%) in raising taxes on
>the rich. This contrasts with the results of a similar 1993 poll
>question in which 72% of the public chose "not far enough" and only 15%
>chose "too far."
>TRADE TREATIES: As fervent free-traders, most of the Washington press
>corps are strongly at odds with the American public. Most polls reveal
>a public that is negative or dubious about NAFTA's impact on the U.S.
>But in overwhelming numbers (65% vs. 8%), journalists assess NAFTA as
>having had a positive impact.
> Also, the public opposes giving the President "fast-track"
>authority to negotiate new trade treaties almost as vehemently (67%
>opposed in a recent poll) as the surveyed journalists support "fast
>track" (71% in favor).
>ECONOMIC PRIORITIES: Asked to prioritize various issues for the
>President and Congress, journalists and the public are often at odds.
> On entitlements, journalists overwhelmingly chose "reform
>entitlements," by slowing growth in Medicare and Social Security, as one
>of the top few priorities. In contrast, most of the public chose
>"protect Medicare and Social Security against major cuts."
> On NAFTA expansion, 24% of journalists chose expansion of NAFTA
>to other Latin American countries as one of the top few priorities, but
>only 7 % of the public did. It was actually put "toward bottom of list"
>by 44% of the public.
> On health care, only 32 % of journalists chose "require that
>employers provide health insurance to employees" as one of the top few
>priorities, while 47% of the public did.
>GUARANTEED MEDICAL CARE: The general public is more emphatic that it is
>Washington's responsibility to guarantee medical care for all people
>without health insurance. While journalists were somewhat split on this
>proposition (43% pro, 35% con), the public supported it in a 1996 poll
>by a 2-to-1 majority (64% to 29%).
>ENVIRONMENT: The only survey question in which journalists appeared to
>the left of the public asked respondents to choose whether stricter
>environmental laws "cost too many jobs and hurt the economy" or "are
>worth the cost." Journalists responded 79%-21% in favor of "worth the
>cost"; in a 1996 poll, the public also heavily favored that option, but
>by a lesser majority (63% to 30%).
>"I'M A CENTRIST": When asked to characterize their political orientation
>on social issues as "left," "center" or "right," 57% of surveyed
>journalists chose center, 30% left and 9% right. When asked to
>characterize their orientation on economic issues, 64% of the
>journalists chose center, 19% right and 11% left.
> "There appear to be very few national journalists," concluded
>Croteau, "with left views on economic questions like corporate power and
>trade -- issues that may well matter more to media owners and
>advertisers than social issues like gay rights and affirmative action."
> In the debate over media bias, FAIR has always argued that
>journalists' private views are less important than their public
>performance - for example, who they rely on as sources and experts.
>"While this survey deflates the conservative caricature of a leftist
>press corps," said FAIR executive director Jeff Cohen, "it should not be
>used to reinforce the notion that journalists' views are the primary
>factor in news bias. The studies that best illuminate bias are FAIR's
>content examinations of Nightline, PBS's NewsHour, NPR and major
>TAKE ACTION: Contact your local news outlets and ask them to cover the
>study, which is available in its entirety on FAIR's web site

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