What liberal bias?

I'm not entirely sold by this, but there's an interesting new study from some Communications professors at Indiana that argues that, at least in terms of visual presentation, there's a bias against liberals in network newscasts.  

A visual analysis of television presidential campaign coverage from
1992 to 2004 suggests that the three television broadcast networks —
ABC, CBS and NBC — favored Republicans in each election, according to
two Indiana University professors in a new book…

"We don't think this is journalists conspiring to favor Republicans. We
think they're just so beat up and tired of being accused of a liberal
bias that they unknowingly give Republicans the benefit in coverage,"
said Grabe, who also is a research associate in political science at
the University of Pretoria in South Africa. "It's self-censorship that
journalists might be imposing on themselves."…

They examined 62 hours of broadcast network news coverage — a total of
178 newscasts — between Labor Day and Election Day over four U.S.
presidential elections between 1992 and 2004. Cable news outlets,
including CNN and Fox News, were not included in their research. The
professors are now looking at 2008 election coverage…

The news release goes on to describe a number of subtle ways in which visual coverage can be biased (useful stuff to know).  The end result is that almost all of these seem to work to the detriment of Democrats.

 "Visuals are underappreciated in news coverage," Bucy added. "You can
have a negative report. You can have the journalist being opinionated
against the candidate. But if you're showing favorable visuals, that
out-weighs the net effect on the viewer almost every single time."

Of course, this is only the visual aspect, but visuals are hugely important in shaping citizens' emotional response to candidates.  I'm not going to draw too many conclusions from one study, but this is definitely a line of research that deserves some more thoughtful scholarship.


Sticking it to CNBC

I had the pleasure of seeing two of this blog's readers in person at lunch today, so I've inspired to try and get at least one or two posts out. 

I don't watch a lot (okay, any) of CNBC, but from what I've gathered, it is generally pretty useless stock-market and big business boosterism.  John Stewart does a brilliant takedown as only he can (h/t Ezra Klein).

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And, to add some minimal value beyond linking to a video that Ezra Klein already did, I'm going to combine this post with a recent post from Matt Yglesias about the "irresponsible homeowners" or "losers" as Rick Santelli calls them.  I think it makes some really great points.

When someone applies for a mortgage, there are two parties to the
transaction. On one side of it is a teacher or a blogger or an
electrician or a lawyer or a nurse or a guy who manages a Home Depot.
On the side is a guy who, for a living, as a professional, works in the
“deciding on what terms to offer people mortgages” business who works,
for a living, at a financial services business. Businesses like that
got in the habit of making loans with little regard to actual prospects
for long-term payment on the theory that since house prices were
rising, the borrower could always sell or refinance. That, to repeat,
wasn’t the judgment of electricians and store managers; it was the
judgment of people who were professional mortgage-offerers….

There really is plenty of blame to go around here. But I just don’t
see how more than a tiny fraction of it could possible adhere to our
electrician or teacher or secretary who’s decided, basically, that the
financial services professionals and government regulators know what
they’re doing…

Think back to 2006. It’s not as if CNBC and your paper’s real estate section were rigorously probing this question.

I think that's a great point– lots of ordinary people made unwise financial decisions that have them in trouble now, but these were not financial professionals making these decisions.  Their biggest mistake was trusting the financial professionals who were acting like morons (giving out loans with no proof of income or assets?  Seriously?).  It is pretty clear where the vast majority of the blame lies and it is not on ordinary folks who are in over their heads on their mortgages.



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