July 22, 2008
Big Media Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth IsBy William Tate
The New York Times' refusal to publish John McCain's rebuttal to Barack Obama's Iraq Op-Ed may be the most glaring example of liberal media bias this journalist has ever seen, but true proof of widespread media bias requires one to follow an old journalism maxim: Follow the money.
Even the Associated Press--no bastion of conservatism -- has considered, at least superficially, the media's favoritism for Barack Obama. It's time to re-visit media bias. True to form, journalists are defending their bias by saying that one candidate, Obama, is more newsworthy' than the other. In other words, there is no media bias. It is we, the hoi polloi, who reveal our bias by questioning the neutrality of these learned professionals in their ivory-towered newsrooms.
Big Media applies this rationalization to every argument used to point out bias. 'It's not a result of bias', they say. 'It's a matter of news judgment.' And, like the man who knows his wallet was pick-pocketed but can't prove it, the public is left to futilely rage against the injustice of it all.
The 'newsworthy' argument can be applied to every metric: one-sided imbalances in airtime, story placement, column inches, number of stories, etc. Every metric, save one.
An analysis of federal election records shows that the amount of money journalists contributed so far this election cycle favors Democrats by a 15:1 margin over Republicans, with $225,563 going to Democrats, only $16,298 to Republicans .
235 journalists donated to Democrats, just 20 gave to Republicans -- a margin greater than 10:1. An even greater disparity, 20:1, exists between the number of journalists who donated to Barack Obama and John McCain.
Searches for other newsroom categories (reporters, correspondents, news editors, anchors, newspaper editors and publishers) produces 311 donors to Democrats to 30 donors to Republicans, a ratio of just over 10:1. In terms of money, $279,266 went to Dems, $20,709 to Republicans, a 14:1 ratio.
And while the money totals pale in comparison to the $9 million+ that just one union's PACs have spent to get Barack Obama elected, they are more substantial than the amount that Obama has criticized John McCain for receiving from lobbyists: 96 lobbyists have contributed $95,850 to McCain, while Obama -- who says he won't take money from PACs or federal lobbyists -- has received $16,223 from 29 lobbyists.
A few journalists list their employer as an organization like MSNBC MSNBC.com, or ABC News, or report that they're a freelancer for the New York Times, or are journalists for Al Jazeera, CNN Turkey, Deutsche Welle Radio, or La Republica of Rome (all contributions to Obama). Most report no employer. They're mainly free-lancers. That's because most major news organization have policies that forbid newsroom employees from making political donations.
As if to warn their colleagues in the media, MSNBC last summer ran a story on journalists' contributions to political candidates which drew a similar conclusion: "Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left"
The timing of that article was rather curious. Dated June 25, 2007, it appeared during the middle of the summer news doldrums in a non-election year -- timing that was sure to minimize its impact among the general public, while still warning newsrooms across the country that such political donations can be checked. In case that was too subtle, MSNBC ran a sidebar story detailing cautionary tales of reporters who lost their jobs or were otherwise negatively impacted because their donations became public.
As if to warn their comrades-in-news against putting their money where their mouths are, the report also cautioned that, with the internet, "it became easier for the blogging public to look up the donors."
It went on to detail the ban that most major media organizations have against newsroom employees donating to political campaigns, a ban that raises some obvious First Amendment issues. Whether it's intentional or not, the ban makes it difficult to verify the political leanings of Big Media reporters, editors and producers. There are two logical ways to extrapolate what those leanings are, though.
One is the overwhelming nature of the above statistics. Given the pack mentality among journalists and, just like any pack, the tendency to follow the leader -- in this case, Big Media -- and since Big Media is centered in some of the bluest of blue parts of the country, it is highly likely that the media elite reflects the same, or an even greater, liberal bias.
A second is to analyze contributions from folks in the same corporate cultures.
That analysis provides some surprising results. Individuals who reported being employed by major media organizations made the following contributions:
NBC, NBC Universal: $104,184 to Democrats / $3,150 to Republicans
CBS: $45,508 to Dems / $966 to Republicans
ABC: $17,320 / $4,717
Turner Broadcasting, TBS: $30,161 / $3,950
Fox: $40,573 / $0
Fox News/Fox News Channel: $1,280 / $0
MSNBC: $210 / $282
CNN: $2,286 / $1,250
Associated Press: $2,550 / $545
Reuters: $10,745 / $3,450
Washington Post, Newsweek: $4,268 / $0
New York Times, NYT Co: $8,143 / $0
Time, Inc: $40,988 / $4,850 ($2,300 to Republicans was from someone identified as a jeweler, so the total may actually be $2,550)
Time Magazine: $1,250 / $0
USA Today: $6,067 / $0
Totals for the above:
$315,533 to Democrats ; $22,656 to Republicans -- most of that to Ron Paul, who was supported by many liberals as a stalking horse to John McCain, a la Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos with Hillary and Obama.
What is truly remarkable about the above list is that, discounting contributions to Paul and Rudy Giuliani, who was a favorite son for many folks in the media, the totals look like this:
$315,533 to Democrats, $3,150 to Republicans (4 individuals who donated to McCain.)
Let me repeat that: $315,533 to Democrats, $3,150 to Republicans.
A ratio of 100 : 1.
No bias there.
William Tate is a former award-winning journalist and the author of the book, A Time Like This: 2001-2008.