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Tilting at Windmills

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July 1, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CHART OF THE DAY.... This one is a bit of navel gazing. It comes from Henry Farrell et. al. and shows the ideological makeup of the audience for various news outlets. As you can seem "blog readers are politically very polarized. They tend to clump around either the 'strong liberal' or the 'strong conservative' pole; there aren't many blog readers in the center. This contrasts with consumers of various TV news channels."

This is hardly a surprise, but still sort of interesting to see in this kind of graphical format. In other not-too-surprising news, there's this:

Blog readers seem to exhibit strong homophily. That is to say, they overwhelmingly choose blogs that are written by people who are roughly in accordance with their political views. Left wingers read left wing blogs, right wingers read right wing blogs, and very few people read both left wing and right wing blogs. Those few people who read both left wing and right wing blogs are considerably more likely to be left wing themselves; interpret this as you like.

The full paper is here.

Kevin Drum 1:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (97)

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Comments

The sad thing is that outlets like NBC Nightly News tailor their broadcasts for a more conservative audience.

Posted by: GP on July 1, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know or care about his methodology, but his results showing most television news to be liberal is a joke. Were this true, Bush never would have been elected to a second term.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 1, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Which all just goes to show you that there's a market of millions of hungry, dissatisfied and underserved "liberal types" who are stuck with the crap of ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS and NBC. And you can add MSNBC in there, too, minus Keith Olbermann's show.

The only "real" news is on the blogs.

I remember years ago hearing somebody say that they didn't watch the TV news anymore because they got all their news online and I was incredulous. Now, all these years later, I "get it".

Posted by: gyxno on July 1, 2008 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only one wondering about the shape of these graphs? It seems like the distributions should be normal (i.e. "bell-shaped"), but they all seem to have these strange nodes in the distro. For example, for NBC Nightly, really strong liberals watch it, but as you move more to the right, the number watching decreases, then increases, then decreases... forming several distinct segments. Why is this? I read the linked article, but I didn't really see the answer there either.

Posted by: Sean Peters on July 1, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

gyxno hits the nail on the head.

if there was a left wing version of fox, the major players would see their ratings evaporate. overnight.

Posted by: Mary Contrary on July 1, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

i'm more interested, though, in why left-wingers feel the need to self-flagellate by reading right wing sites.

and who are they reading? the corner? townhall? hot air? free republic? little green footballs?

i believe in being open-minded sure, but i also believe in not hitting myself in the face with a hammer on a regular basis...

Posted by: Mary Contrary on July 1, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

I think the most fascinating aspect of these charts is the finding that, of those who read both left and right blogs, those who are strongly liberal vastly outnumber those who are strongly conservative. Indeed, it would appear that those blog readers who are strongly conservative do not like to venture far from the safe waters they know. In contrast, those blog readers who are strongly liberal like to keep an eye on what the "enemy" is doing, and aren't afraid that they will melt if they read something they might disagree with. I would submit that this demonstrates, contrary to common wisdom, it is the left most willing to confront ideas which challenge their own views.

Oh, and Jeff, the charts show the ideological make-up of the indicated networks' audience--not, as you suppose, the ideological content of the news that network is broadcasting.

Posted by: Bruce on July 1, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think that as people migrate from their traditional news outlets to the blogs they settle on those that resonate with them simply because they aren't exactly balanced. I also think that as they read and learn more,the more polarized they become. ( Like me) Blogs by far carry much more information from alkl the various sources which I consider golden. I've said many times that news generally hit the blogs sometimes weeks before a story breaks in the Media. I can no more revert back to the news media than a gay back to a straight.

Posted by: DA on July 1, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think that as people migrate from their traditional news outlets to the blogs they settle on those that resonate with them simply because they aren't exactly balanced. I also think that as they read and learn more,the more polarized they become. ( Like me) Blogs by far carry much more information from alkl the various sources which I consider golden. I've said many times that news generally hit the blogs sometimes weeks before a story breaks in the Media. I can no more revert back to the news media than a gay back to a straight.

Posted by: DA on July 1, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think that as people migrate from their traditional news outlets to the blogs they settle on those that resonate with them simply because they aren't exactly balanced. I also think that as they read and learn more,the more polarized they become. ( Like me) Blogs by far carry much more information from alkl the various sources which I consider golden. I've said many times that news generally hit the blogs sometimes weeks before a story breaks in the Media. I can no more revert back to the news media than a gay back to a straight.

Posted by: DA on July 1, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and Jeff, the charts show the ideological make-up of the indicated networks' audience--not, as you suppose, the ideological content of the news that network is broadcasting. Posted by: Bruce

Even if that's the case, it's a bogus study as I would say most liberals don't get their news from or even spend much time watching television news because of its overwhelming conservative bias. I can't remember that last time I watched a national nightly newscast, and I doubt I'm in the minority on this. I can't even watch the PBS NewsHour any longer.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 1, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II,

I agree that many liberal have stopped watching the nightly news for just the reasons you state. Hence, the much lower ratings for the nets. That doesn't make the study bogus. They're just sampling a smaller audience.

Posted by: howie on July 1, 2008 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff:

Once again, I think you are misinterpreting the charts. The charts do not show where most liberals or conservatives obtain their news. Rather, they show that, of the people watching MSNBC for example, what distribution of that audience can be identified as strongly liberal, and what distribution can be identified as strongly conservative.

Posted by: Bruce on July 1, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's interesting that the majority of viewers of all the news shows except Fox are heavily on the liberal side. Re-enforces my belief that most conservatives only watch what they agree with while liberals tend to watch a variety sources, not depending on just one in their effort to get the facts right.

Posted by: Dan O on July 1, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

To Mary Contrary: I read the right wing blogs for the laughs and to keep an eye on what the enemy is thinking/saying. The Corner is always good for a laugh (can you say sixteen year old high school prom princess school newspaper writing?) And does Katherine Lopez have a job/hobby/anything? The Corner is all she does all day! And, come on, Jonah is so embarressing he's cute. And HUMAN EVENTS!! Are they legal? I also keep up with the hate sites. But then I've always been a sci fi fan. Am I hitting my self in the face with a hammer? What the hell; keeps me alert and voting.

Posted by: smartelephant on July 1, 2008 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Rather, they show that, of the people watching MSNBC for example, what distribution of that audience can be identified as strongly liberal, and what distribution can be identified as strongly conservative. Posted by: Bruce

Bruce,

I can't state why I believe this study to worthless in any simpler terms: I don't believe liberals watch television news in numbers enough to even show up on such a study. So where he is getting his number is the mystery.

Let's start here - how many of you watch the national evening news? Perhaps I'll find that a lot more of you watch television news than I imagined.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 1, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Indeed, it would appear that those blog readers who are strongly conservative do not like to venture far from the safe waters they know.
Posted by: Bruce on July 1, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

If they're like my father-in-law, they just don't want to hear from people who don't agree with them. I think it's an intellectual curiosity thing - most conservatives I know are happy with the way things 'were' and not too interested progress.

Posted by: rusrus on July 1, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Bruce, I think you are right on both points. I do not know if I am strongly liberal but certainly have liberal tendencies and when I get the chance I listen to right wing talk shows. My view is not so much keeping an eye on the enemy, but in constantly testing my values against what the right puts up. If I do not die of apoplexy, I figure it makes me stronger

Posted by: terry on July 1, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

It is difficult to believe the majority of viewers of all the news programming, except for FOX, are liberals. Most Americans are not liberal, but according to these charts most American news program viewers are liberal. Perhaps liberal now means moderate conservative in America.

Many conservatives' political participation takes place on Sunday mornings, partly explaining why they don't use blogs to express their political views. Churches are not generally places for deliberative exchanges, but places for like minded people to share in their beliefs.

All of this suggests that blog readership is unlikely to be associated with the kinds of deliberative exchange between different points of view that some political theorists would like to see.

Political Animal provides a space for a deliberative exchange between different points of view. Those exchanges are both a source of pleasure and annoyance. It has been pointed out by others, and something I experienced at TalkLeft, that so-called liberal blogs ban commenters just like conservative ones do. The FDL borg and Kos require registration, like conservative blogs and many publications that now allow comments. Requiring registration probably has something to do with the political homogeneity of blog communities. I used to comment at the World Magazine blog to engage in political exchanges with mainly evangelical conservatives, but when they changed to a registration format, I stopped. Registration homogenizes comments and blog communities, which is probably why FDL and worldmagblog requires it.

Probably people prefer to communicate with others like themselves. Few want to argue about politics or religion, as those deliberations turn into nominalizing judgements, used to classify and discount deliberative opponents whose company they might otherwise enjoy. Few seek out negation, while most prefer agreement.

Posted by: Brojo on July 1, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a lefty who reads the right-wing blogs. It's like getting a peek at the other team's playbook.

My sense is, the more serious you are about your politics, the more you'd want to know what the enemy is thinking.

But, yeah, some of the right-wing sites are populated by sheering fucking lunatics. Freaks with opinions scarcely fit for polite society.

I'm trying to remember the last time I watched TV news. The cable shows are ubiquitous. It's easy to catch Lou Dobbs defending the nation from free trade and illegals from El Salvadora while working out at the gym.

But the broadcast network news? I thought their audience is all in nursing homes.

Posted by: Auto on July 1, 2008 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff:

So, in essence you agree with both of my points but disagree with the the conclusions of the study because...well, just because.

Again, I don't know how much clearer this can be: the study does NOT show how many people, liberal or conservative are watching a particular network; it shows only, of those watching, what their ideological disposition may be.

So, if 10 people are watching MSNBC, and 8 of them identify as strongly liberal, the "hump" will rest primarily on the left hand side of the chart. Capiche?

Are you sure you're not a Fox News viewer?

Posted by: Bruce on July 1, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who reads both right wing and left wing blogs on a regular basis, and the commments, the numbers of heterophils on either end of the spectrum are miniscule compared to the actual numbers of readers in both camps.

One thing to keep in mind is that conservatives tend to be older and less computer/internet savvy.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 1, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

I can't state why I believe this study to worthless in any simpler terms: I don't believe liberals watch television news in numbers enough to even show up on such a study. So where he is getting his number is the mystery.

And where is your evidence? Saying "I don't watch the evening news or even showing that X people on this blog don't isn't proof - those are anecdotes. This isn't a representative sample, after all, of liberals, much less the populace as a whole. your wanting to believe something doesn't make it so.

Posted by: Josh R. on July 1, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Link deleted. The comments section is not here for you to advertise your own blog.

Posted by: Swan on July 1, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

It should also be pointed out that this tracks with research conducted by Eszter Hargiatti about blog authors.

link 1

link 2

Cross-ideological discussions among conservative and liberal bloggers Eszter Hargittai · Jason Gallo · Matthew Kane

"Abstract: With the increasing spread of information technologies and their potential to filter content, some have argued that people will abandon the reading of dissenting political opinions in favor of material that is closely aligned with their own ideological position. We test this theory empirically by analyzing—both quantitatively and qualitatively—Web links among the writings of top conservative and liberal bloggers. Given our use of novel methods, we discuss in detail our sampling and data collection methodologies. We find that widely read political bloggers are much more likely to link to others who share their political views. However, we find no increase in this pattern over time. We also analyze the content of the links and find that while many of the links are based on straw-man arguments, bloggers across the political spectrum also address each others’ writing substantively, both in agreement and disagreement."

Posted by: Josh R. on July 1, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

I've long read both right and left blogs. Although, I tend to stay away from the rabid ones on both sides - so, no Kos for me and no Free Republic. I don't consider the right wing to be "the enemy" as much as I consider them to have a lot of valid points -- but I certainly disagree on the solutions (although that can be said of an equal number of lefty solutions as well.) RedState used to be fairly vibrant conservative community that I enjoyed reading and found myself regularly agreeing with. Over time it has turned into just another echo chamber as they've run off anyone with divergent viewpoints, which is really a shame because the policy discussions over there used to be exceptional. These days it is barely worth reading since the front page is all more riffs on the same theme of how Obama is going to destroy America as we know it. Yawn.

It is getting harder and harder to find centerist blogging where all sides of policy are discussed with limited distraction by trolls.

Posted by: Art Eclectic on July 1, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

I wanna know how they managed to get such strong Liberal positions on that graph for all the major news media - even fox isn't as far right as the graph allowed - when (for instance) NBC was the only one with viewers in all groups.

Weird.

Posted by: Crissa on July 1, 2008 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Why is there a tax-scam banner ad on the site?

Posted by: Crissa on July 1, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

I read a bit of everything.

Wandering mutt with no home. Liked by all but loved by none.

Sniff, tear, sniff.

Heh.

Posted by: Jet on July 1, 2008 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

. . . it shows only, of those watching, what their ideological disposition may be.

So, if 10 people are watching MSNBC, and 8 of them identify as strongly liberal, the "hump" will rest primarily on the left hand side of the chart. Capiche? Posted by: Bruce

I bet you like being able to type "hump" on a blog, huh Bruce? (I would have used "bulge." A nice woody word.) And you speak Italian!

Yes. I understand the rather simple methodology for toting up audience. However, since none of the national networks is vaguely liberal, I'll stick my neck out that much further by positing that the so-called self-identified liberals ain't, unless they are watching the CBS Evening News for the entertainment/outrage value.

Again, I don't believe liberals are, in meaningfully numbers, watching national new broadcasts at all. If they were the supposed majority audience shown in this "study" for all the networks except FOX, and knowing that supposedly most Americans get their news from television and, finally, considering that the majority of Americans watching television news still watch the Big Three in much greater numbers than the cables networks, why are we nearing the end of the most right wing national government we've had in like 75 years if, by ad absurdum distillation of this data, most television news viewers are liberal?

Next, this guy is going to tell us that most of the people who read newspapers are liberal and, ipso facto, most newspapers must be liberal or they wouldn't attract a liberal readership. Hey, either there's a positive correlation here or there isn't.

Eric Alterman is kind of a dick, but he pretty much owns this topic, and I'm sure he could punch bigger holes in this "study" than I can in the small about of company time I can waste. See his What Liberal Media.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 1, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives are always going on about this, so I guess it's fair to question. If they're only reading right wing blogs how, indeed, are asses being fact-checked? Inquiring minds gotta know...

Posted by: The Critic on July 1, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time I used to be able to have conversations (I just can't stomach the nonsense that conservatives spout as truth these days) but as a group they've lost their ability to think objectively or critically and reality just doesn't seem to interest them. Until there's a bit more meat on their arguments, it's a waste of time to listen to them. They need to vet their own argments against the conservative fiasco of the past 30 years, figure out what part is wrong, and then forge ahead. I'm not taking my time to teach them how to deconstruct their own arguments to look for weaknesses. All they got is weaknesses and it's exhausting...

Posted by: Russ on July 1, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time I used to be able to have conversations (I just can't stomach the nonsense that conservatives spout as truth these days) but as a group they've lost their ability to think objectively or critically and reality just doesn't seem to interest them. Until there's a bit more meat on their arguments, it's a waste of time to listen to them. They need to vet their own argments against the conservative fiasco of the past 30 years, figure out what part is wrong, and then forge ahead. I'm not taking my time to teach them how to deconstruct their own arguments to look for weaknesses. All they got is weaknesses and it's exhausting...

Posted by: Russ on July 1, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time I used to be able to have conversations with Republicans but I just can't stomach the nonsense that conservatives spout as truth these days and as a group they've lost their ability to think objectively or critically and reality just doesn't seem to interest them. Until there's a bit more meat on their arguments, it's a waste of time to listen to them. They need to vet their own arguments against the conservative fiasco of the past 30 years, figure out what is wrong, and then forge ahead with some new material. I'm not taking my time to teach them how to deconstruct their own arguments to look for weaknesses. All they got is weaknesses and it's exhausting...

Posted by: Russ on July 1, 2008 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't know there were any right wing blogs. Could someone please name a few? Just kidding.

Posted by: slanted tom on July 1, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II, in most social science studies these days, the safest way to classify people is via self-identification. Rather than assuming people are "African-American" or "Mexican-American" based on their skin color or surname, one simply asks them how they self-identify. The same is true for political persuasion. In this light, it appears that the viewers of said network programs (except for Fox, go figure) have self-identified as liberal. Like you, I find that a bit surprising, but maybe it's encouraging, too. Perhaps the "L" word isn't a dirty word in our country anymore? Maybe Bush has tarnished the conservative brand enough to make liberalism more palatable to a majority of Americans? I'm probably being a bit of a Pollyanna here, but it's just a thought.

Posted by: Trent on July 1, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

I find it interesting that it's almost exclusively lefties reading both conservative and liberal blogs.

Posted by: Orange Crush on July 1, 2008 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Jasper writes: "The newsrooms in the big three still vote 85%+ Democratic" - but I'm willing to wager serious money that the guys who sign their paychecks and who make a lot of editorial decisions "behind the scenes" are ca. 100% Republican.

Posted by: Trent on July 1, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm more interested, though, in why left-wingers feel the need to self-flagellate by reading right wing sites."

There are still a few right wing blogs I can stomach.
rightwingnuthouse.com (close to being apostate though), justoneminute.typepad.com are examples.
On the later, the commenters are willing, and often eager, to attempt to tear apart leftish arguments if the arguments are posed politely. If a leftish argument survives there, it's probably solid.

Posted by: Bill Arnold on July 1, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

"[T]here aren't many blog readers in the center. This contrasts with consumers of various TV news channels."

Right! This is why I'm always complaining the blogs may not be a good enough answer to Fox News et al.

Hopefully I'm wrong and things will be changing shortly, and Fox News will become obsolete.

But in terms of what's happened so far- when I complain about the mainstream media, someone usually shows up and writes "Oh! Well, that's what the blogs are for." So here's why that's just an answer that calms people down, but doesn't help us solve our problem- as much as there have been blogs for a decade or longer, the conservatives have still been getting all their (realistically doable) agenda done.

Posted by: Swan on July 1, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

PBS/NPR and MSNBC in particular are quite left-leaning. Posted by: Jasper

Horse shit. That's like calling the NYT op-ed page liberal because of Paul Krugman and Frank Rich while conveniently ignoring Dowd, Brooks, Friedman, Cohen, and Kristol.

NPR has two on its staff, Mara Liason and Juan Williams, that get regular face time on FOX, and they aren't there like Colmes as token liberals. They'd be out the door if I were running NPR.

And who can forget Tucker Carlson's, mercifully, short stint on PBS after he'd been fired from FOX-wannabe CNN? Then there was Buckley's elitism (the bad kind) trussed up as erudition, Wall Street (wink, wink) Week, Washington (Beltway insider's) Week In Review, and the sub-literate McLaughlin Group.

Keith Olberman may be the current darling at MSNBC, but they've also been broadcasting vile spew and idiocy from the likes of Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough for years.

While certain programs that are broadcast over NPR (some produced by PRI, for example) are liberal, the news division of NPR has actually drifted center-right since the mid-1990s.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 1, 2008 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

That horrible media outlet chart doesn't just suggest viewers of stations other than Fox are liberal, it suggests they're very liberal. Doesn't jive with reality very well.

To Jasper above - the other sides blogs always sound like an echo chamber. That's a Rorschach test to tell you which side you're on if you want to be 'intellectually honest' about it. p.s. I don't read Drudge. Really.

Posted by: Jack H. on July 1, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

For the past six months my spouse has been watching the news so she can be better informed, despite my protestations network news is propaganda. I have watched some of it. Advertisers, better than anyone, know who are watching the evening network news programs, and they have concluded they are old people.

Posted by: Brojo on July 1, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

NPR - nice polite republicans.

I stopped donating 3 years ago when I realized that they were becoming shills for the republican party.

But I do tune in on Saturdays to listen to Car Talk!

Posted by: optical weenie on July 1, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

A majority of Fox news viewers identify as Republican and conservative. A majority of CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS viewers identify as Democratic and moderate; see Table 3 here. While not as skewed as what Farrel et. al. show in Figure 8, there is a clear moderate-liberal skew among CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS viewers.

Posted by: has407 on July 1, 2008 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

But I do tune in on Saturdays to listen to Car Talk! Posted by: optical weenie

This American Life.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 1, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Surely the bulk of TV news watchers are not "strongly liberal." They'd have died of apoplexy by now.

Posted by: Stuart Eugene Thiel on July 1, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

The striking thing to me on that graph, not noted by the CT authors, is that a lot of liberals end up being forced to watch centrist TV, whereas conservative have Fox.

The only liberals on TV -- using a liberal's definition of "liberal" -- are Olbermann and Moyers. There are some centrists who drift left a bit (Matthews, Maher) but the center of gravity is to the right; on the average it's not even centrist.

Posted by: John Emerson on July 1, 2008 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

I'll agree that Chris Mathews is an idiot, but he's a Liberal idiot to the majority of observers. Mr. "Obama gives me a Tingle up my Legs" doesn't drink enough kool-aid for you? What does he need to do, propose to Obama? Challenge K.O. to a duel to see who can burn an effigy of Bush the fastest on the air?

"[Bush] looks great in a military uniform. He looks great in that cowboy costume he wears when he goes West. We're proud of our President. Americans love having a guy as President, a guy who has a little swagger, who's physical, who's not a complicated guy like Clinton.... Women like a guy who's President. Check it out." -- Chris Matthews.

"[E]verybody sort of likes the President, except for the real whack-jobs." -- Chris Matthews

Posted by: Stefan on July 1, 2008 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Swan,

This is why I'm always complaining the blogs may not be a good enough answer to Fox News et al.
Well, that's what the blogs are for. Idiot.

Posted by: on July 1, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

NPR - nice polite republicans.
The New York NPR (WNYC) has a few worthy shows. Notably Brian Lehrer has consistently good interviews and runs a very tight show.

Posted by: Bill Arnold on July 1, 2008 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

There are two possibilities:

a. Most viewers are Lefties as ONLY FOX has Righties.

b. Those presented as Lefties are in fact Lefties AND Centrists who simply don't watch FOX.

Conclusions:

There is NO Lefty-only (reality) news on t.v.

FOX "news" watchers aren't just Righties, they're way out of the mainstream and aren't interested in anything close to "reality" news or seeing the world the same as Lefties and Centrists.

Posted by: MarkH on July 1, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

There's no liberal media for liberals to watch. It just isn't there. Olbermann makes a big difference, but he's one guy and he's only been on for a few years. Moyers is part-time now.

When conservatives talk about "the liberal media" they don't know what they're talking about. It's just noise. (Half of them think that it's a communist media. There's no communist media, either.) There's a centrist media that veers left occasionally, but more often right.

For some reason, the market responds to conservatives, but not to liberals.

Posted by: John Emerson on July 1, 2008 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ideological scaling.
Don't they have ointments for that?

Someone has already remarked on the finding that liberals are more likely to read right-wing blogs than vice versa.

One of the curses of being a "moderate liberal" is this tendency to look at both sides of an issue. In some quarters this is seen as a sign of weakness. Being sure of one's self is a sign of strength, and strength (or at least its appearance) in US politics is often more important than knowledge. Thus we get presidents you'd like to have a beer with.

Posted by: thersites on July 1, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Travel to any country in Europe, and ask them how left-wing the (your favorite "liberal media" shibboleth) is. Just don't ask while they're drinking something, unless you're wearing a raincoat.

Posted by: thersites on July 1, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Jasper, I'm just making the point that in mainstream US politics there is no left. There are free-market conservatives, who think the poor ought to go fuck themselves, and free-market liberals, who think the poor should be given a hand to help them join in the festivities but otherwise think the current economic structures are just fine.

Given those choices I vote liberal. But it ain't no left.

Posted by: thersites on July 1, 2008 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

I know it's hard to remember, but the vast majority of the commentariat considered the Iraq invasion/war/whatever a SUCCESS at that point.

Which tells you something about the, collective wisdom of the commentariat. There were commentators questioning the wisdom of the enterprise even then, but they were ruthlessly marginalized by the "left-leaning" media.

Posted by: thersites on July 1, 2008 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Though all of the existing news channels may have been "centrist" by some definition, Fox filled a market segment that wasn't being filled at the time and that hasn't been duplicated by other new news channels/mediums (see: Air America).

The best answer is . . . Posted by: Jasper

The best answer is that FOX panders to every small-minded fear and prejudice about women, minorities, foreigners and any topic that requires the slightest bit of thought about the wider world. Unlike the unsupportable results of the study that is the subject of this thread, this is what, unfortunately, characterizes most Americans.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 1, 2008 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm basically conservative, but I follow both rightward and leftward leaning sites. The moderate leftward ones (like this one) are important simply as a way of keeping intellectual honesty -- someone wrote above about challenging yourself to see if the positions you hold stand up to the other side.

I agree in principle, but those of us who basically adhere to small-government conservative principles but care about a broad marketplace of ideas aren't "conservative" the way that term's used nowadays in the US. If we're at all capable or empathy or thoughts more nuanced than, "Kill the bad guys!" then our views aren't welcome on the right side of the current-day spectrum.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on July 1, 2008 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

What I find interesting is that conservatives easily recognize left and right wing propaganda, but liberals insist that their outlets are not liberal propaganda.

Must be fundamental differences in the brain.

Posted by: Luther on July 1, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

American liberals are not leftists, and probably not even liberals. American self-identified liberals approve of American hard power and accept the Washington Consenus as sound economic policy. American self-identified liberals support huge defense budgets and helped to dismantle welfare during the Clinton presidency. American self-identified liberals support candidates who keep nuclear attacks of other nations on the table and think deregulation is an economic benefit. American self-identified liberals do not oppose pogroms against immigrants and Democratic politicians considered liberal voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. Almost all liberals think drugs should be illegal.

American liberalism still exists for a few social issues like reproductive freedom, gun control and opposition to the death penalty, which even network newscasters might support. For the most part Americans are moderates who accept the moderate conservatism of pundits like pumpkin head and big mouth as liberal, when they are really spokespersons for General Electric or other huge corporations.

Posted by: Brojo on July 1, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

Actually Jasper, if one looks at FOX they are using a Luntzian [Frank Luntz] approach to decision making. They use keywords and talking points that play on peoples emotions rather than rational thought which enforces the us good them bad thinking for political gain.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If9EWDB_zK4

Note this video of Penn and Teller is not a liberal video as they defend Ron Paul

Posted by: Jet on July 1, 2008 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

American liberals are not leftists, and probably not even liberals. American self-identified liberals approve of American hard power and accept the Washington Consenus as sound economic policy -Brojo

Im like WTF...

Posted by: Jet on July 1, 2008 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

You've always been completely WTF, Jet. Nothing has changed.

Posted by: John Emerson on July 1, 2008 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

For some reason, the market responds to conservatives, but not to liberals. -Johm Emerson

Okay, John, lets think about why the media would want to be seen as liberal. And then lets think about why they would get the Christian [Spiritual base] base to cheerlead free market materialism.

Why is it so confusing to you that the market responds to the sheep they created?

Posted by: Jet on July 1, 2008 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

You've always been completely WTF, Jet. Nothing has changed.
Posted by: John Emerson

I dont mean that I misunderstand, I mean that Brojo misunderstands, just as you do here:
You've always been completely WTF, Jet. Nothing has changed.
Posted by: John Emerson

Posted by: on July 1, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Which all just goes to show you that there's a market of millions of hungry, dissatisfied and underserved "liberal types" who are stuck with the crap of ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS and NBC. And you can add MSNBC in there, too, minus Keith Olbermann's show.

The only "real" news is on the blogs.

Gol'durn it! I forgot to mention Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now". She and her show are terrific when she sticks to Americans and American issues.
She can be hard to find, though, but she's worth the effort! She's shown on my local cable station at 8am, but I can also watch her online at DemocracyNow.org.

Finally, I would never consider Chris Matthews to be anything remotely close to a "Liberal".

And did somebody mention Tucker Carlson? HA! Have you noticed that she's been "butching" herself up lately? Bowtie GONE! BeatleBangs GONE! Her hair is sort of 'rough cut' now - you know, like a man might have? What's next? A broken nose and a surly scowl? Ohhhhhhh! Manly!

Posted by: gyxno on July 1, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Good to know. Now, who are the ones who are open-minded and don't resort to mindless "us good, you bad" dismissals of opposing viewholders? I forgot. Posted by: Jasper

Certainly wasn't me. You're obviously new here or just using a new alias.

If you are referring to the disastrously incompitent and criminal administration we have, it sure as shit ain't about something so effete as "opposing views." Crimes against humanity are rarely charcterized as such.

If the revolution came tomorrow, I'd have little problem with having pretty much most of the two Bush administrations down to deputy this and that taken out and summarily shot. They all share to one degree or another collective war crimes guilt.

The oh-so-liberal Democratically controlled Congress isn't going to bother to impeach or otherwise try anyone, so you might as well "dispose" of them. But first, I want to gather up all the 'ol gang, strip 'em naked, and have them form pyramids and such for a few Iraqi photographers.

I suppose we could offer them up to the International Court to be tried. But that would just take too long.

Posted by: Jeff II on July 1, 2008 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Jet, I understand that you think that you understand. But what I think is that you're one of the most WTF people I've ever had any contact with.

Posted by: John Emerson on July 1, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on July 1, 2008 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Will somebody pls tell me how in the HELL a so-called news network like FOX stays on the air when it continually make so many blatant errors by reporters?? and even simple spelling mistakes on the crawl that runs along the bottom (can't Rupert afford to invest in Spellcheck??) You'd think they'd all be embarrassed (including Hannity) but I guess petty stuff like Truth doesn't really matter at this point...

Posted by: Countdowngirl on July 1, 2008 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Jet, I understand that you think that you understand. But what I think is that you're one of the most WTF people I've ever had any contact with.
Posted by: John Emerson

Lets recap. Emerson said, "For some reason, the market responds to conservatives, but not to liberals"

Which has nothing to do with my post aimed at brojo, nor you.

Yet you feel you have been in contact with me and that I have always been wtf.

You dont know the reason why the market responds to conservatives.

WTF?

LOL.


Posted by: Jet on July 1, 2008 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

When I was a liberal, I believed that Stalin and the USSR were forces for good despite the many people who died in his pursuit of "equality and social justice." My liberal brain condoned the murders of millions as long as I could believe that the perfect society would some day emerge. -MHR

Well, MHR, theres your mistake, American liberals dont read or follow the works of Stalin, why would they being born in America? Equality is something Jesus believed in, why would you look for equality in Stalinism?

Posted by: Jet on July 1, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Where's Comedy Central? The court jester [Stewart] and the anti-jester [Colbert] certainly have a liberal slant now. Will they lose their material next January?

Anybody who thinks that ABC, NBC, CBS & CNN don't parrot "conventional wisdom" have no discernment at all.

And Chris Matthews may be a gusher for all sides, unless Clinton is the family name. I remember him gushing about the manliness of Fred Thompson less than a year ago.

Posted by: natural cynic on July 1, 2008 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

10 points for you if you predicted that the post-occupation was going to fall apart not because it would be impossible to do but because wrong/insufficient planning was in place by the US Armed Forces. And 20 points if you argued that Saddam was purposefully trying to trick both us and (more importantly) his neighbors into thinking that he actually had a viable WMD program when he really didn't.

Nice. I just earned 30 points (though, to be fair, I predicted that the post-war occupation would be impossible to do AND that wrong/insufficient planning was done by the Bush White House (let's not blame the armed forces who were after all only operating on orders from the Cheney/Rumsfeld regime). I realized that not only did they choose an impossible task but, having so chosen, didn't even half-way try to achieve. You just can't beat lazy AND stupid.

Posted by: Stefan on July 1, 2008 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

I like A Tiny Revolution on the left and Ace of Spades on the right. ATR has never banned me yet and unlike Crooks and Liars, Atrios, or Confederate Yankee, ACE only bans me for a few days at a time.
OT: Call Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 DEMAND IMPEACHMENT.

Posted by: Mike Meyer on July 1, 2008 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

What is Jet trying to say? He seems to like to cut and paste. WTF?

Posted by: John Emerson on July 1, 2008 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Countdowngirl: Will somebody pls tell me how in the HELL a so-called news network like FOX stays on the air when it continually make so many blatant errors by reporters??

Think of it as a conservative video blog; "strong homophily", just a different medium. Why there isn't an equivalent "liberal" broadcast outlet is hard to say, but I'd guess that the liberal blogsphere makes up for it (Farrell et. al. hint at it, but don't come out and say it).

Posted by: has407 on July 1, 2008 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Anonymous person at 5:58 wrote:

Well, that's what the blogs are for.

Maybe you didn't understand my comment, because I sure as hell don't understand your criticism.

Posted by: Swan on July 1, 2008 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Those few people who read both left wing and right wing blogs are considerably more likely to be left wing themselves; interpret this as you like.

Maybe they get tired of having their comments deleted without acknowledgement on left wing blogs. Just a theory.

Posted by: on July 1, 2008 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

So the nut (pardon the pun) of the story then, Kevin, is that blog-reading is a lot like masturbation? Who woulda thunk it???

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 1, 2008 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

Sean Peters, way up there: Almost certainly, the segmented shape of the graphs comes from using stepped categorizations (having people rate themselves along a scale of e.g 1-10) and then the graphical means used to demarcate them. It pretty much has to be an artifact.

BTW, I long heard and got the impression that Christian Science Monitor was politically very even-handed and fair - any one else hear or have impressions about that? I don't think they really have a show, sadly.

Posted by: Neil B on July 1, 2008 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Stretch the Y axis a bit and you get Tuesday Scatblogging!

The whole Fox News / Right blog thing sure looks like head-in-the-sand syndrome. I think the reality based community concept is looking more and more self evident.

Posted by: asdf on July 1, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Jasper at 7:10: 10 points for you if you predicted that the post-occupation was going to fall apart not because it would be impossible to do but because wrong/insufficient planning was in place by the US Armed Forces. ... very, very few people were "not in support of the war" on May 1st, 2003 for the reasons that most people are "not in support of the war" now in 2008.

I'll take my 10 points, then. And I'm one of the "very very few," I guess, but that doesn't make me a genius. Just a moron that pays attention.

And I agree that most Americans are now "not In support of the war" because they've figured out it's a losing proposition, not because it was wrong in the first place.

Posted by: thersites on July 1, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

The sad fact is, on television at least, it isn't about ratings. It is about a conservative corporate-friendly world view. Most of America is liberal. They just don't care to sate that particular demographic. The mainstream news gives them the appearance of legitimacy. It serves mostly as noise to counter-balance truth. Seeing Couric's the CBS Evening News won the Murrow award for best broadcast just reinforces this. Television news, such as it is, isn't informative, it is a sedative for the masses. Thank God for the internet. I think the rise and popularity of the internet is tied to our ability to shape our own universe, rather than to have one crammed down our respective throats.

And I don't need to read right wing propaganda--I can predict the depths they will plumb.

Posted by: Sparko on July 1, 2008 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, you're more right that you realize
No, with all due respect, I'm exactly as right as I realize.
The majority of America understood that the reasons for the War went beyond simply the suspected-by-everyone WMD program
Hell, I understood that. That was why I objected to the war in the first place.
(even if Liberals claimed otherwise with the simple "Bush Lied, People Died" mantra).
It's possible for a "mantra" to be both simple and true.
1. Bush did lie.
2. People did die.

It's a simple summary of a complex situation, but true all the same.
But Obama's going to have a tough time of it because we can't, now just pull up and leave. We've made a fucking mess, and we have to help clean it up.

Posted by: thersites on July 2, 2008 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Hilarious thread, ladies and gentlemen! Simply hilarious!

Jasper,

Good effort, but you are debating with the delusional.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 2, 2008 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Good effort, but you are debating as the delusional.

Fixed.

Come on, Yancey. If the Iraq was isn't "wrong as a concept to a majority of Americans," why did the Administration have to sell it based on a pack of lies, as we now know from the Senate Intelligence Committe report if not the evidence of our own eyes? Jasper is in another thread still pushing the "Abu Ghraib was just a few bad apples" meme, when we know now that torture was authorized from the top based on the methods of the fucking Red Chinese, fergawshsakes.

After all these years, the faith-based -- but ruggedly individualist! -- alternate reality you movement conservatives and loony libertarians have constructed for yourselves simply doesn't hold water any more.

Posted by: Gregory on July 2, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Looking at the "left and right blogs" graph with fresh eyes this morning, I realize that I would much rather be canoeing.

Posted by: thersites on July 2, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

I should have been clearer- I wasn't talking about the debate over Iraq, but about the debate over the bias of the various news organizations. I hadn't read the last 20 comments and seen the change in focus.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on July 2, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

It's not that Americans don't support the War, they don't support *losing* the War.

Americans are not liberals. Americans are killers.

Posted by: Brojo on July 2, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Fox feeds the Right's hunger for an outrage emotional response.

The blogs feed the Left's hunger for intellectual work.

Both sort of feed our hunger to find Truth and the black & white of Good & Bad.

Both fail to a large extent since Truth isn't in our response or the intellectual details and Good & Bad aren't in the Truth, but in us.

Posted by: MarkH on July 2, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I hasten to add that those on the Right seem perfectly happy to be spoon fed their news and views.

Those on the right reserve the right to figure it out for themselves.

Posted by: MarkH on July 2, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

orwell: Name a conservative on MSNBC - Joe Scarborough.

so...pat buchanon isnt a conservative anymore?

lol...

Posted by: mr. irony on July 2, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Though all of the existing news channels may have been "centrist" by some definition, Fox filled a market segment that wasn't being filled at the time and that hasn't been duplicated by other new news channels/mediums (see: Air America). Why?

1. Because Bill O'Reilly shouts really loud so people who are losing their hearing can still hear it. (Note that his biggest competitor, Keith Olbermann, also talks loud.)

2. Because Rupert Murdoch had deep pockets to fund a news network that was losing money hand-over-fist for several years before it was able to make a profit, while there is no liberal analogue who would do the same with Air America Radio or a new TV network. (CNN was more popular when Turner still owned it; it was also more mainstream, but has since veered right.)

3. Because conservatives buy up any radio station that airs the Air America stream and turns it into either a sports stastion, a Spanish-language station, or a Christian station.

Posted by: Avedon on July 2, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

nice article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you guys hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

Posted by: Alice on January 18, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

quite interesting post. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you guys learn that some chinese hacker had busted twitter yesterday again.

Posted by: Christine on January 18, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK
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