Conservatives love to complain about a “liberal media bias.” Except that that is not true, according to a new analysis.
A media watchdog organization, 4th Estate Project, released a new infographic showing that coverage of the 2012 presidential election is biased toward Republicans, even in outlets traditionally considered part of the “liberal media.”
In stories and transcripts analyzed over three months, partisan Republicans were quoted at a 44 percent higher rate than partisan Democrats, according to this new analysis. Additionally, the ratio of positive to negative coverage was 17.1 percent more critical of President Obama than Republican challenger Mitt Romney. 4th Estate Project says that its analysis is based on a review of 717 articles and 15,357 quotes collected between May and July.
The subject of media bias, and particularly liberal bias, has been a central theme of political maneuvering for decades. Conservatives often claim that media gatekeepers freeze out conservative ideas and have an ingrained slant toward liberal perspectives. “The myth of the liberal media empowers conservatives to control debate in the United States to the point where liberals cannot even hope for a fair shake anymore,” says commentator and media pundit Eric Alterman.
The infographic released Tuesday by The 4th Estate indicates that this conservative strategy is succeeding. “Our data clearly shows that if the mainstream media does have a liberal bias, that bias isn’t manifesting itself in the current campaign,” says Max Krieg, a 4th Estate Strategic Media Analyst. “In fact, the data shows that Republicans are quoted 44% more than Democrats, and the coverage of Mitt Romney is significantly less negative than coverage of Barack Obama.”
“Our technology can measure biases across different topics, media outlets, and journalists,” says Michael Howe, The 4th Estate’s chief technology officer. “The 4th Estate is the first system to be able to methodically and quantitatively track, monitor, and measure in real-time the key data points in this debate, specifically the quantitative measurement of quotes (what The 4th Estate refers to as “VoiceShare”) and the sentiment of these quotes attributed to individuals and affiliate groups.”
“We are currently tracking coverage of Election 2012, but this is just is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what our platform is capable of doing,” says Jonas Eno-Van Fleet, The 4th Estate’s director of operations. “I am very excited about our ability to bring some quantitative rationality to the question of whether liberal media bias exists. It is also our goal to introduce a certain amount of transparency into the debate. Our long term goal is to analyze the media across multiple domains, and to make our data widely available in a format that can be verified quickly and easily by citizen consumers of the data.”