The Press Corps: Liberal, Liberal, Liberal
Last November, as citizens split their votes almost evenly between Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush, Slate magazine polled its staff to find out how they voted. The results: 85% chose either Gore or the even-more liberal Green candidate, Ralph Nader. Bush, the nation's narrow pick, got just four votes from this small slice of the media elite - and no votes from the 13 staffers with senior editorial positions.
Slate's self-survey is interesting all by itself, but its findings also fit perfectly with a quarter-century of survey data which show that, when asked, most journalists say that they are liberal, hold liberal views on policy issues, and vote for liberals on Election Day.
The Media Research Center has now compiled in one place all of the data on reporters' self-reported views, quotes from top journalists affirming or denying their liberal bias, and the public's opinion on media bias. All of this is posted on the new Media Bias Basics section of our Web site, which you can access by visiting www.mrc.org and clicking on the blue box on the home page. A preview of what you'll find:
- In 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976, at least four-fifths of the media elite voted Democratic, according to a survey conducted by social scientists S. Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman for their book, The Media Elite. Even George McGovern, the Democrats' 1972 presidential nominee and one of the most liberal candidates to ever seek the White House, won 81% of journalists' votes.
- When U.S. News & World Report's Kenneth Walsh polled his fellow White House reporters about their votes in the five presidential elections from 1976 to 1992, he found 86% of the votes went to Democratic candidates vs. only 12% for Republicans. As Walsh relayed in his 1996 book, Feeding the Beast, none of the reporters he questioned voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, the year Reagan won a 49-state landslide over Democrat Walter Mondale.
- Bill Clinton was the overwhelming choice of nearly 90% of Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents surveyed by the Freedom Forum after the 1992 presidential election. As for Newt Gingrich's 1994 Contract with America, most of these same journalists (59%) dismissed it as a campaign ploy; only three percent believed the Contract was "a serious campaign reform proposal."
- In 1996, the American Society of Newspaper Editors surveyed more than 1,000 reporters at newspapers across the country. A wide majority (61%) identified themselves as "Democrat or liberal" or leaning in that direction, while barely one in six (15%) used "Republican or conservative" to describe their views. That closely matched a 1985 Los Angeles Times survey of 2,700 journalists, which found three times as many self-identified liberals as conservatives (55% to 17%) in U.S. newsrooms.
- The 1985 L. A. Times survey also showed that most reporters hold doctrinaire liberal views on most major political, social and economic issues. Huge majorities said they were for legalized abortion (82%), against increased defense spending (80%), in favor of more gun control (78%), and, during those tense days of the Cold War, favored a so-called "nuclear freeze" which would ban all future nuclear missile deployments (84%).
Ideally, journalists' liberal views wouldn't contaminate the content of their news stories, but the world isn't perfect. Since 1987, the Media Research Center has documented countless instances - all presented in detail on the MRC's Web site - when reporters' liberal thinking has led them to denigrate conservative policy positions while promoting causes and ideas associated with the left. Now, visitors to MRC's Web site can review for themselves 25 years of survey research confirming the liberal beliefs of most journalists. - Rich Noyes