NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 2, 2005

Fully 18 of the nation's 20 major media outlets are slightly to significantly left of center in their news delivery, according to a new study by economists at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Missouri.

The study examines the tendency for media outlets and members of Congress to cite work from the 200 most prominent think tanks in their new stories or reports. Just as liberal legislators will tend to cite studies from liberal think tanks, liberal media will tend to do likewise.

Using scores that the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) have given members of Congress based on their voting records, the study estimates the ADA rating for media outlets. A rating of 50 designates a moderate position, 16 typically means conservative or Republican, while a score of 84 implies a liberal or Democratic perspective.

Among the findings:

  • Two out of 20 major outlets examined had a conservative bent: the Washington Times (35) and Fox News Special Report with Brit Hume (40).
  • The remaining 18 outlets all distinctly tilt left: New York Times and CBS Evening News both had scores of 74, NBC Nightly News earned a 62, and ABC World News Tonight received a 61.
  • The one Internet outlet included in the study, the Drudge Report, scored a 60, moderately left of center.

In one surprise finding, the Wall Street Journal scored the highest ADA rating with 85 -- the same as a typical Democrat in Congress. The researcher's exclusive focus on think tank citations stemming from "news" stories and not editorials offers one reason for this apparent oddity, say observers.

Source: Robert J. Barro, "Bias Beyond A Reasonable Doubt," Weekly Standard, December 13, 2004.


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