The commonly held view that mainstream American news has a ‘liberal bias’ is a myth, according to new research.
A study by 4thestate.net, released on August 9, found that in coverage of the 2012 US presidential election, a greater percentage of negative comments were directed at President Obama and the Democratic party than their Republican rivals.
The study took into account news reports from publications ordinarily considered to be Democrat-friendly, including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR and MSNBC, as well as Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, which is regarded as being Republican in its political leanings.
Between May 1 and July 15 this year, Republicans were quoted more frequently Democrats, and, according to the research, negative coverage for Barack Obama was 17% higher than for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
In the study, CBS News was found to have been negative towards Democrats 63% of the time compared to only 33% for Conservatives. The Washington Post was slightly more balanced with 61.8% negative reporting of the Democratic Party. USA Today was found to be negative 59.6%, the New York Times 57.1%, and CNN 56.7% of the time. The only news sources that were balanced towards positive reporting of Democrat or ‘liberal’ views were NPR which was positive 51% of the time and MSNBC 63.4% of the time.
Michael Howe, chief technology officer for 4th Estate said “Media bias is certainly the perception, but it’s based on a lot of anecdotal evidence and people talking about ‘What I think …’ We hope to change the nature of the debate.”
The 4th Estate project describes its mission as replacing “anecdote and speculation about the 2012 election coverage with visual intelligence based on statistical analysis.” Further information can be found at www.4thestate.net.