MediaWatch: July 27, 1998

Vol. Twelve No. 12

Public Realizes Liberal Bias

Two recent polls have documented that more news consumers detect a liberal than a conservative bias in the national media:

  • "More Americans perceive bias of one stripe or another than believe the various media are fair and impartial — the ratio being about 55 percent to 45 percent across all media," Frank Newport and Lydia Saad observed in summarizing a Gallup Poll commissioned by the American Journalism Review. "While conservatives tend to see liberal bias and liberals tend to see conservative bias," they noted in the July/August edition of the magazine, "this tendency is much stronger among the conservatives surveyed." More persuasive as to the direction of the bias, the authors noticed that "the large group of moderates in America tend to perceive somewhat more of a liberal bias than a conservative bias."

Specifically, the overall numbers showed that of 1,009 people surveyed who had an opinion, twice as many perceived liberal bias on "national network TV news" than conservative bias: 38 percent versus just 19 percent. The poll found nearly identical numbers with "weekly news magazines," as 39 percent discerned a liberal slant and just 19 percent identified a conservative tilt. "National cable TV news" fared a little better with a liberal vs. conservative bias ratio of 33 to 20 percent.

  • Asked to give a pollster a one word description of the national news media, 61 said "biased," making it the most frequent response heard in a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll released in June. Which way? "Conservative" did not make the top ten answers listed by Pew in its report, but "liberal" came in seventh place with 21 offering it as their one word description.