The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Media Bias You Can Believe In III

Posted by iusbvision on September 3, 2008

Dr. John R Lott, famed professor, author and economist conducted a media analysis, that quite frankly speaks for itself. Here are excerpts so be sure to follow the link to read more:

First impressions count a lot. The media coverage last week introduced the Republican and, to a much lesser extent, the Democratic vice presidential nominees to the American people. The coverage not only tells us something about how people will view the candidates, it also tells us something about the media and the parties themselves.

For Biden, the top ten terms found were: experience (excluding “executive experience”) (69%), abortion (21%), liberal (11%), safe (7%), long-winded (5%), moderate (5%), plagiarism (3%), gun-control (2%), executive experience (2%), and exaggerate or exaggerated (dealing with exaggerated claims he made about his college grades and accomplishments that helped end his 1988 race) (1%).

For Palin, the top ten were: conservative (49%), abortion (44%), brother-in-law (picking up claims that she improperly tried to get her ex-brother-in-law fired) (17%), corruption and oil (17%), risky or risks or risk (16%), glass ceiling (13%), Quayle (10%), exciting (9%), inexperience OR “lack experience” OR “limited experience” (8%), and bold (8%).

This is not an exhaustive list, but it does point to some significant differences in coverage. While 49 percent of the articles mention that Palin is a conservative, only 11 percent of the pieces on Biden use “liberal,” just twice as many of the articles that label him moderate. There is no doubt that Palin is a conservative, but Biden’s legislative record should likewise put him squarely in the liberal category and it would seem to be just as important in describing who Biden is to voters.

The National Journal, a respected bipartisan publication, regularly examines the voting records of all members of congress, and it found that Biden was the third most liberal member of the Senate in 2007, even more liberal than self-described “socialist” Bernie Sanders from Vermont. Indeed, with Obama’s No. 1 ranking, the Democratic ticket appears to be the most liberal presidential ticket ever.

Negative terms were used far more frequently to describe Palin than Biden. For example, Biden was forced to exit the 1988 presidential race because he was involved in plagiarism and exaggerated his college record, but few articles mentioned those issues – only 3 and 1 percent respectively.

By contrast, Palin’s nomination was more than twice as likely to be described as “risky” than as “bold.” Terms associated with negative claims about Palin were far more likely to get mentioned. The third most frequently used term involved an ethics charge against Palin that she fired the state public safety commissioner because he wouldn’t fire Palin’s former brother-in-law. 90 percent of these stories failed to mention that the brother-in-law was in trouble for threatening to kill people.

Palin was compared to Dan Quayle at about 3 times the rate that Biden’s plagiarism issues were raised. With a historic nomination of a woman and one with a better chance of winning than Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, surprisingly about the same share of articles mentioned the “glass ceiling” or “exciting” or “bold” as “Dan Quayle.”

*John Lott is the author of Freedomnomics and a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland.

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