Bias by the Numbers

A “bizarre cold snap” is hitting the U.S. and the media have already begun to draw comparisons to the polar vortex. It is only a matter of time before the networks resume panic over “extreme weather.” Use of the phrase “extreme weather” in news stories has exploded in recent years. Almost a decade ago, before former Vice President Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” was released, the broadcast news networks rarely used the term. Gore’s 2006 movie and book of the same name used the phrase “extreme weather” and linked the hurricanes, floods, drought and other natural disasters to global... continue reading
The New York Times thinks regulations like tobacco packaging laws will reduce smoking, but a recent business story on the subject made that case while downplaying other factors. Michelle Innis of the Times claimed that Australia’s “plain packaging laws,” which are regulations that eliminate logos on cigarette packs in favor of graphic images of cancerous lungs or dying smokers, seem “to be working.” But her Times’ Business section story from June 11 stumbled over the data. Innis suggested Australia’s laws reduced tobacco usage, but tobacco consumption actually increased slightly until a December 2013 tobacco tax was instituted. This error mirrored... continue reading
Despite the rise in deaths from preventable childhood diseases, the networks spent the last 15 years fueling speculation that vaccines cause autism. Just in the past seven years more than 1,300 died from such diseases, according to CDC data. The medical community widely refuted such claims and the medical journal that once published the study later retracted it. But for years the broadcast networks continued to report on the alleged connection between vaccines and autism. In 171 stories during 15 years of morning and evening news shows, ABC, CBS and NBC reported heavily on the ongoing debate, giving time to... continue reading
The federal tax filing deadline has arrived. Tax season, when H&R Block commercials are as inescapable as news how-to segments about filing taxes, is nearly over. But there’s one big tax story the broadcast networks practically ignored this year: the Obamacare taxes that just took effect. The network evening news shows have aired 40 stories or news briefs that mentioned “Obamacare” or the “Affordable Care Act” between Jan. 1, 2014, and April 13, 2014. But 87.5 percent (35 of 40) of those ignored the taxes associated with the legislation by failing to mention any taxes or penalties related to Obamacare... continue reading
There is a jobs crisis in the U.S. that is going virtually unnoticed by the broadcast networks. The unemployment rate for African Americans towers over the national average, upsetting conservatives and liberals. In spite of bipartisan outrage, the three broadcast networks gave just 10 seconds combined to the black unemployment rate around the monthly jobs reports in the past year. Liberal Rev. Jesse Jackson was one of many frustrated people. He has complained that “the media [is] dismissing it as not important.” Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data revealed a severe jobs crisis for blacks even in recent months. While... continue reading
Natural gas companies are guilty, whether or not they actually committed a crime, at least, when it comes Hollywood plotlines. The March 16 episode of CBS’ “The Mentalist,” with the provocative title “Grey Water” focused on the murder of an anti-fracking activist and featured a natural gas drilling company as prime suspect through the episode. While the company was eventually cleared of the murder, “The Mentalist” still relied on hackneyed clichés about the natural gas industry, portraying it as corrupt and responsible for flammable water. The episode promoted anti-fracking hysteria as the murder victim’s wife, Molly, alleged that local tap... continue reading
Apparently MSNBC wasn’t liberal enough for Comcast. Its division Comcast Ventures is funding liberal blogger Ezra Klein’s new startup. Klein, the boy wonder of left-wing journalism, is famous for creating a list of liberal media who planned how to spin the news called JournoList. Klein has hired fellow liberal Matthew Yglesias from Slate as executive editor, and two fellow Washington Post staffers. Both of these Post staffers, Dylan Matthews and Melissa Bell, worked for a Wonk Blog joint project called Know More . This project idea, with an initial estimated cost of more than $10 million, was turned down by... continue reading
In spite of the massive half-trillion dollar price tag, the farm bill didn’t get much attention from the broadcast network news shows, although a compromise version may get congressional approval very soon. Since Jan. 1, 2013, when they reported that the nation was facing a “milk cliff” in which dairy prices would skyrocket if a farm bill wasn’t passed, ABC, CBS and NBC network news programs only mentioned “farm bill” in 20 reports. The vast majority (16 stories) of those reports aired on CBS. When they did talk about the farm bill, the networks covered it from the left complaining... continue reading
A group of climate change scientists were rescued by helicopter Jan. 2, after being stranded in the ice since Christmas morning. But the majority of the broadcast networks’ reports about the ice-locked climate researchers never mentioned climate change. The Russian ship, Akademic Shokalskiy, was stranded in the ice while on a climate change research expedition, yet nearly 98 percent of network news reports about the stranded researchers failed to mention their mission at all. Forty out of 41 stories (97.5 percent) on the network morning and evening news shows since Dec. 25 failed to mention climate change had anything to... continue reading
Half of Stories about Hydraulic Fracturing Rely on Hollywood Attacks: From the well known anti-fracking flick “GasLand,” to Matt Damon and John Krasinski’s drama that depicts gas companies as the villain, networks news stories have used movies or celebrity anti-fracking activists in 18 of 36 reports discussing the issue. CBS Morning Show Gives Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon 5 Minutes 20 Seconds to Bash Fracking: Gayle King interviewed the founders of Artists Against Fracking, who blasted the practice of natural gas retrieval as “not clean at all,” and claimed aquifers cannot be protected, but without any evidence or opposition. In... continue reading