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Media Bias

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From nattering nabobs of negativism to Fox News, MSNBC and beyond — a brief history of an endless battle.

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Media Bias

  1. 1. Media bias From nattering nabobs of negativism to Fox News, MSNBC and beyond
  2. 2. Nonpartisan data, partisan battle • CBO reports that ACA means some people will cut back on working
  3. 3. Nonpartisan data, partisan battle • CBO reports that ACA means some people will cut back on working • John Boehner tweets Obamacare “expected to destroy 2.3m jobs”
  4. 4. Nonpartisan data, partisan battle • CBO reports that ACA means some people will cut back on working • John Boehner tweets Obamacare “expected to destroy 2.3m jobs” • Chris Cillizza defends media focus on attacks rather than accuracy
  5. 5. How did we get to the point at which passing along and amplifying partisan spin are seen as legitimate functions of journalism?
  6. 6. A brief history of media bias
  7. 7. The McCarthy era • Coverage of McCarthy’s accusations exposed the limits of objectivity
  8. 8. The McCarthy era • Coverage of McCarthy’s accusations exposed the limits of objectivity • Murrow was accused by some of making rather than reporting the news
  9. 9. The McCarthy era • Coverage of McCarthy’s accusations exposed the limits of objectivity • Murrow was accused by some of making rather than reporting the news • McCarthy supporters like Buckley launched their own media
  10. 10. The media consensus fractures • Press portrayed the civil-rights movement in a sympathetic light
  11. 11. The media consensus fractures • Press portrayed the civil-rights movement in a sympathetic light • Vietnam War further cast the media as a bastion of liberalism
  12. 12. The media consensus fractures • Press portrayed the civil-rights movement in a sympathetic light • Vietnam War further cast the media as a bastion of liberalism • The media’s embrace of youth culture alienated conservatives
  13. 13. Nixon and the media • Spoke up on behalf of the conservative “Silent Majority”
  14. 14. Nixon and the media • Spoke up on behalf of the conservative “Silent Majority” • VP Spiro Agnew denounced “nattering nabobs of negativism”
  15. 15. Nixon and the media • Spoke up on behalf of the conservative “Silent Majority” • VP Spiro Agnew denounced “nattering nabobs of negativism” • Pentagon Papers and Watergate ignited an all-out war with media
  16. 16. Are journalists biased?
  17. 17. Does bias affect coverage? • Despite scandal, Ronald Reagan was treated with deference
  18. 18. Does bias affect coverage? • Despite scandal, Ronald Reagan was treated with deference • Media tormented Bill Clinton over his personal pecadillos
  19. 19. Does bias affect coverage? • Despite scandal, Ronald Reagan was treated with deference • Media tormented Bill Clinton over his personal pecadillos • Media’s failures in run-up to war in Iraq are well documented
  20. 20. “Working the refs” “I admit it — the liberal media were never that powerful, and the whole thing was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures.” — William Kristol
  21. 21. The big picture in 2004 • Traditional media were culturally liberal but pursued the truth
  22. 22. The big picture in 2004 • Traditional media were culturally liberal but pursued the truth • Conservative media were partisan and attacked mainstream
  23. 23. The big picture in 2004 • Traditional media were culturally liberal but pursued the truth • Conservative media were partisan and attacked mainstream • Talk radio was a conservative medium liberals couldn’t match
  24. 24. The big picture in 2014 • New liberal outlets like HuffPost and MSNBC battle conservatives
  25. 25. The big picture in 2014 • New liberal outlets like HuffPost and MSNBC battle conservatives • Lies are now a wellestablished part of political discourse
  26. 26. The big picture in 2014 • New liberal outlets like HuffPost and MSNBC battle conservatives • Lies are now a wellestablished part of political discourse • What is journalism’s responsibility in holding politicians to account?

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