Only 7% of jour­nal­ists iden­tify as Repub­li­cans

Sup­ports me­dia bias claims

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY KELLY RIDDELL

A mere 7 per­cent of jour­nal­ists iden­tify as Repub­li­cans, and when they do give money to po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns they usu­ally do­nate to Democrats, lend­ing ev­i­dence to Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates’ claims that they are fac­ing a hos­tile au­di­ence when they deal with the press.

As Repub­li­can can­di­dates pre­pared for their fourth de­bate of the pri­mary sea­son last week in Mil­wau­kee, the peo­ple do­ing the ques­tion­ing were in­creas­ingly in the spot­light, with their mo­tives be­ing ques­tioned by the cam­paigns, vot­ers and even by their fel­low jour­nal­ists.

Self-pro­claimed Demo­cratic jour­nal­ists out­num­ber Repub­li­cans by 4-to-1, ac­cord­ing to re­search by Lars Will­nat and David Weaver, pro­fes­sors of jour­nal­ism at In­di­ana Univer­sity. They found 28 per­cent of jour­nal­ists call them­selves Democrats, while just 7 per­cent call them­selves Repub­li­cans — though both num­bers are down from the 1970s. Those iden­ti­fy­ing as in­de­pen­dent have grown.

Among Wash­ing­ton cor­re­spon­dents, the ones who dom­i­nate na­tional po­lit­i­cal cov­er­age, it’s even more skewed, said Tim Grose­close, au­thor of “Left Turn: How Lib­eral Me­dia Bias Dis­torts the Amer­i­can Mind.” More than 90 per­cent of Wash­ing­ton jour­nal­ists vote Demo­cratic, with an even higher num­ber giv­ing to Democrats or lib­eral-lean­ing po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees, the au­thor said.

“There’s some­thing in the DNA of lib­er­als that makes them want to go into jobs like the arts, jour­nal­ism and academia more so than con­ser­va­tives,” Mr. Grose­close said. “Even if you’re just try­ing to max­i­mize prof­its by offering an al­ter­na­tive point of view, it’s hard to find con­ser­va­tive re­porters. So it’s nat­u­ral the me­dia is more lib­eral.”

The bias fac­tor has be­come front-page news af­ter last month’s Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial de­bate, which aired on CNBC, and which has drawn con­sis­tently bad re­views for how the mod­er­a­tors han­dled the ques­tion­ing.

John Har­wood, a CNBC and New York Times re­porter who has writ­ten pieces on why Repub­li­cans are bad for the econ­omy, asked front-run­ner Don­ald Trump if his run “was a comic book version of a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.” Mr. Har­wood later de­manded that for­mer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee, a Bap­tist min­is­ter, say whether he be­lieved Mr. Trump had “the moral author­ity” to be pres­i­dent. Mr. Huck­abee didn’t take the bait.

“The Democrats have the ul­ti­mate su­per PAC — it is called the main­stream me­dia,” Sen. Marco Ru­bio, one of the can­di­dates on the stage, said to strong ap­plause from the par­ti­san Repub­li­can au­di­ence.

The de­bate was so widely panned that Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee Chair­man Reince Priebus sus­pended fu­ture de­bates with NBC, and of­fi­cials from dif­fer­ent GOP cam­paigns are ne­go­ti­at­ing new re­stric­tions on fu­ture af­fairs

David D’Alessio, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions sci­ences pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut at Stam­ford, said there is bias in the press, but his re­search shows it evens out.

“If you stop to think about me­dia as larger than just re­porters and own­ers … they’re busi­ness en­ti­ties and their job is to make money. If you look at where peo­ple’s opin­ions are, they are in the mid­dle, so that’s where a lot of re­port­ing goes be­cause that’s where the eye­balls go,” he said.

Mr. D’Alessio ar­gues that for ev­ery lib­eral news net­work like MSNBC, there’s a Fox News coun­ter­point be­cause the mar­ket creates that open­ing. For The Huff­in­g­ton Post on­line, there’s the Drudge Re­port on­line, and for The New York Times there’s the New York Post.

But over­all, he says, the main­stream me­dia tend to be more neu­tral in their tone de­spite an in­di­vid­ual re­porter’s ide­o­log­i­cal pref­er­ences, be­cause they want to ap­peal to both con­ser­va­tive and lib­eral view­ers alike — be­cause that’s where the great­est mar­ket is for making money. Peo­ple only per­ceive the main­stream me­dia as be­ing bi­ased be­cause of their own bi­ases.

“If a per­son is ide­o­log­i­cal, the more closely they’re go­ing to zero in on things they dis­agree with,” Mr. D’Alessio said.

He con­ducted an ex­per­i­ment where he gave the same news­pa­per ar­ti­cle to both Repub­li­cans and Democrats and told them to cir­cle the bias. Repub­li­cans cir­cled the lib­eral view­point in the story whereas the Democrats cir­cled the con­ser­va­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

“But both sides were rep­re­sented,” he said. “Peo­ple need to take a step back and eval­u­ate [that] just be­cause I don’t agree with what some­one says in the news­pa­per doesn’t mean the news­pa­per is ly­ing about it.”

Mr. Grose­close, an eco­nomics pro­fes­sor at Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity, said his re­search does find a tilt even in what he clas­si­fies as main­stream press, in­clud­ing pub­li­ca­tions such as The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post and the ma­jor broad­cast net­works — but ex­clud­ing Fox News and oth­ers that have an ob­vi­ous ide­o­log­i­cal bent.

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