Friday, July 22, 2011

On Shifting Views - Media Bias and Gay Marriage

(via CC) A study by a UCLA professor finds that journalists and the media are so biased that we perceive centrists as conservatives, and liberals as centrists:
Fox News is clearly more conservative than ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and National Public Radio. Some will conclude that 'therefore, this means that Fox News has a conservative bias. Instead, maybe it is centrist, and possibly even left-leaning, while all the others are far left. It's like concluding that six-three is short just because it is short compared to professional basketball players.

The simple reason:
Groseclose opens his book quoting a well-known poll in which Washington correspondents declared that they vote Democratic 93 percent to 7 percent, while the nation is split about 50-50. As a result, he says, most reporters write with a liberal filter.
Helen Thomas is the perfect example of this. While a White House reporter, she was considered a great journalist... but now is exposed as not just having liberal opinions, but as being a far-left nutcase. How is it possible that someone with such extreme opinions was able to co-exist - and be heralded as great - in a supposedly neutral environment as the journalistic field, when people who express commentary that even agrees with mild right-leaning initiatives are blasted as being biased? It is when the journalistic center is skewed so far to the left, that extreme liberalism is viewed as mildly liberal while mild conservatism is viewed as extreme.

This is true beyond media, however. Whenever we shift conversations in a specific way, it redefines the center viewpoint, making one side or the other seem extreme. For example, even proponents of gay marriage who are liberal but not gay claimed that it would never impact or be forced upon religious people in any way; that it was the religious who were unfairly imposing their morality on homosexual couples. And yet, as gay marriage has become fait accompli, proprietors are being sued for being unwilling to cater to homosexual couples' wishes, such as hosting or catering or photographing their wedding. Proponents of the separation of church and state (not in the Constitution) felt that religious values should have no weight in determining what people can and cannot do. But one of the protections afforded by the Constitution was freedom of religion, which was supposed to mean that people would not be forced to perform acts that are against their beliefs. By suing proprietors for standing up for their beliefs, gay couples, through the Courts, are essentially reversing the Constitution by forcing people to perform services that they feel go against their religious beliefs. Moreover, in discussions on the subject, people who formerly claimed it does not have anything to do with religious people and that "gay marriage doesn't hurt anyone", now have shifted their views even further, noting that to not service gays should be discrimination like any other, such as racism or sexism.

That all said, not all bias is extreme, nor does it shift completely to one end of the spectrum. In the rather extensive Wiki on media bias, it notes that Groseclose and his colleagues found that despite the heavy bias in media in the USA, all major news sources remained within the overall center - from the New York Times at the left edge of it to Fox News in the very middle, all were within the range of moderate Democrats and Republicans in Congress. If news organizations were people, Fox would be somewhere between Joe Lieberman and John McCain, while the NY Times would be somewhere around Bill Clinton - which, upon a little thought, would likely make sense to most people.