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OPINION

Poll Underlines Liberal Dominance in TV News

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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The Hollywood Reporter performed a poll on the news media, and the finding is still unexpected and shocking to some. The headline was "Americans Think All Network News Channels Lean Liberal, Poll Finds."

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Common sense has won. Can we dispose of the ridiculous fiction that the network news product is objective, strictly balanced and nonpartisan?

The poll of 2,200 Americans from March 28 to April 2 asked if certain media outlets are "more liberal" or "more conservative" or have "no political lean." The Big Three networks averaged 35 percent "more liberal" and about 20 percent "no political lean." Count on the "more liberal" classification coming from conservatives and independents, and the delusional "no political lean" answer coming from liberals. (One-third of the sample picked "Don't know/No opinion.")

The numbers were more intense for cable news channels: Forty-six percent found CNN to be "more liberal," and only 12 percent found "no political lean," while 43 percent found MSNBC to be "more liberal" and 12 percent said it has "no political lean." Fifty-one percent found Fox to be "more conservative," and only eight percent said it has "no political lean."

The magazine's Erik Hayden wrote this sentence without a hint of sarcasm: "Network news channels like ABC, CBS and NBC, which strive toward impartiality in their reporting, were perceived by a significant margin to be 'more liberal' in their political lean than neutral."

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Despite NPR's around-the-clock liberalism, only 27 percent said it leans "more liberal," and 21 percent answered it has "no political lean." Someone needs to listen harder to NPR, including Hayden, who bizarrely described it as "centrist."

The poll also found that across the board, news consumers insist there is "too much opinion-based political commentary" in their news product. The numbers were stronger in cable news, but "too much opinion" beat "the right amount of opinion-based political commentary" on every network.

Morning Consult, which did the poll with The Hollywood Reporter, offered an obvious spin. "President Trump's relentless rhetoric on the mainstream media has helped shape how those mediums are viewed among his base," notes vice president Tyler Sinclair.

The magazine article also included this quote from Andrew Heyward of the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism: "The poll confirms the disturbing but not surprising fact that our polarized public discourse has eroded trust in mainstream journalism."

"Public discourse" eroded journalism? Why can't the media ever take any responsibility for their own trustworthiness problems? Heyward was the president of CBS News when Dan Rather disgraced the network in 2004 by reporting "fake news" with phony documents about then-President George W. Bush's Air National Guard service.

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The media remain remarkably unwilling to acknowledge that the complaint of leftist bias in the "news" product is a very old complaint that resonated long before Donald Trump came down his escalator to run for president. The subject of biased television news is about as old as ... television news.

It's certainly true that even the slightest pretense of fairness has been shredded in the Trump era. Anyone observing the "news" agenda today should probably admit that saying any national media outlet has "no political lean" is a stretch.

The left angrily insists to its allies in the press that "striving toward impartiality" is synonymous with spreading conservative "lies." Letting conservatives make a point apparently ruins everything for the people who self-identify as the "right side of history."

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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