Two professors, John Lott, economist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Kevin A. Hassett, the Institute's director of economic policy studies, looked at newspaper articles on the economy. They wrote, "We found that newspaper headlines reporting economic news on unemployment, gross domestic product (GDP), retail sales and durable goods tended to be much more frequently negative when a Republican was in the White House. And this was true even after accounting for the economic numbers on which the stories were based and how those numbers were changing over time." So bad economic news becomes less bad economic news with a Democrat sitting in the White House. With a Republican in the White House, however, good economic news becomes less good, and bad becomes even worse.
The Pew Center for Excellence in Journalism surveys journalists annually. Their report, "The State of the News Media 2007," found more than one-third (34 percent) of national journalists identified themselves as liberal, as compared to one-fifth (20 percent) of the general public. Only 7 percent of the national press self-identified as conservative, compared with 33 percent of the general public. The press and the public are widely divided on social issues and values, as well. For example, while 58 percent of Americans think belief in God is necessary to be moral, only 6 percent of national journalists agree.
The Pew Center report only covers what journalists admit about themselves. And while 59 percent of this pool of national reporters couldn't think of a single news organization that was liberal, a whopping 82 percent said they could think of conservative news coverage. Even so, 64 percent of national journalists admit that criticism about the blurring of reporting and commentary is valid.
Here's a typical example of how the media shapes moods. Support for the Iraq war increased from 22 to 30 percent -- a 36 percent increase -- right before Iraq operations commander Gen. Petraeus testified before Congress. MSNBC described this as an "uptick." Meanwhile, a major paper described a 36 percent increase in home foreclosures as a "surge."
Court TV founder and media watchdog Steven Brill once said, "When it comes to arrogance, power and lack of accountability, journalists are probably the only people on the planet who make lawyers look good."
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