NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 23, 2004

Liberal bias is a tiresome subject; we have been hearing about it for at least 30 years. Although those who work in the media continue to deny it, they are having a harder and harder time explaining why so many viewers, readers and listeners believe it, says Bruce Bartlett.

There are several opinions as to why the media remain so persistently liberal, says Bartlett:

  • Prof. Daniel Sutter of the University of Oklahoma points out that there are severe barriers to entry into the news business that make it very difficult to start a new newspaper or television network, thus allowing liberal bias to perpetuate itself.
  • Prof. David Baron of Stanford University theorizes that profit-maximizing corporations tolerate liberal bias because it allows them to pay lower wages to liberal journalists; by being allowed to exercise their bias, they are willing to accept less pay than they would demand if they were in a business where bias was not tolerated.
  • Prof. William Mayer of Northwestern University suggests that conservatives have adopted talk radio, which is overwhelmingly conservative, as an alternative news outlet; in other words, a key reason for the popularity of people like Rush Limbaugh is that they provide news and information not available elsewhere, not just conservative opinion.

The dominant media is finally starting to realize that it has an economic problem from having a perceived liberal bias, even though it steadfastly denies any such bias. Editor & Publisher, an industry publication, is so alarmed that it has begun a study of the problem, says Bartlett.

Source: Bruce Bartlett, "Media Bias Remains Persistently Liberal," National Center for Policy Analysis, June 23, 2004.


Browse more articles on Government Issues