Tim Groseclose gives lecture on liberal bias in mass media

Ally Rohland February 13, 2013 0
Tim Groseclose gives lecture on liberal bias in mass media

Where would we be if we didn’t have the media? Dr. Tim Groseclose explored the answer to that question in his lecture based on his book of the same name, “Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.” The lecture took place at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 in Gibble Auditorium as part of the Lefever Lecture series — named for Dr. Ernest Lefever ‘42, who founded the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Groseclose is the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics at UCLA. Previously, he has held positions in the political science and economics departments at Caltech, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University. Groseclose earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematical and computational sciences from Stanford University in 1987 and later earned his doctorate from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1992.
In preparation for his book, Groseclose developed a system with “Freakonomics” author Steven Levitt and Harvard professor James Snyder that can determine how liberal or conservative Americans vote. This system allows Americans to compute their own political quotient (PQ) — how liberal or conservative they are, based on their political views. The PQ scale ranges from 0 to 100, 0 being conservative and 100 liberal.
Through his research, Groseclose has determined that the average American voter votes 50.4 on the PQ scale, therefore rather moderate. However, Groseclose believes that the media distorts this number and sways the typical American voter to the left by 20 points on the PQ scale. Without the media, Groseclose’s research finds that the average American voter would be a 31.5 on the PQ scale; in other words, rather conservative. This is due to the media’s effect on our political views: 70 percent of these influencing forces come from the media, while only 30 percent come from our own natural views.
During his six years of research, Groseclose discovered his distortion of theory bias. “The bias in the media does not come from false statements, but rather from the stories and issues reporters do not cover or loaded political phrases,” Groseclose said.
Additionally, he stated that it is not possible for reporters to completely separate themselves from their personal political beliefs. In a typical presidential election, Washington correspondents vote 93 to 7 Democrat. In the typical newsroom, liberal reporters outnumber conservative reporters 90 to 10. Groseclose quoted journalist and political pundit Bernard Goldberg, “If just about everybody in the newsroom thinks the way [journalists] do and shares the same political views as they do, then their views aren’t really liberal, are they? Of course not. They’re moderate … middle of the road … and yes, reasonable. Right. And fish don’t know they’re wet.”
While it would be easy to solely blame the liberals in the media, Groseclose stated that Americans affect the way the media reports, which causes a double causality. For instance, the Los Angeles Times has an extremely liberal readership; therefore, they will consciously or subconsciously put a liberal slant on stories. This liberal slant further feeds the liberal tendencies of readers and affects the tendencies of conservative voters in that area. However, Groseclose commended liberal reporters on their attempts to write unbiased journalism. They manage to bring their stories’ bias down from their personal beliefs, on average, to a 58.5 on the PQ scale.
A self-proclaimed liberal, I was apprehensive about attending this event — afraid of a liberal bashing session. However, Groseclose tactfully presented his ideas founded on reputable research and reminded me, as an aspiring journalist, to keep myself in check. Next time I watch world news or peel open a newspaper, I’ll be more aware of the media’s slant on political events.

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