April 24, 2006

Even if accurate -- so what?

Eric Alterman thinks he's found something really noteworthy: Does media bias affect voting? The authors address this question by looking at the entry of Fox News in cable markets and its impact on voting.

Between October 1996 and November 2000, the conservative Fox News Channel was introduced in the cable programming of 20 percent of US towns. Fox News availability in 2000 appears to be largely idiosyncratic. Using a data set of voting data for 9,256 towns, the authors investigate if Republicans gained vote share in towns where Fox News entered the cable market by the year 2000. They find a significant effect of the introduction of Fox News on the vote share in Presidential elections between 1996 and 2000. Republicans gain 0.4 to 0.7 percentage points in the towns which broadcast Fox News. They also find a significant effect of Fox News on Senate vote share and on voter turnout. The estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers to vote Republican.

The entire report is here (.PDF file).

"Convinced 3 to 8 percent of its viewers ... ??" Ah. The one right-leaning news outlet on the tube "convinced" some viewers to vote Republican. So, we could assume (before, during and after Fox's introduction, but especially before) ... that all the rest of the left-leaning TV news outlets have been "convincing" voters for decades to vote ... Democratic? Remember: You are a mindless drone and you let the news "convince" you who to vote for. Well, three to eight percent at least, eh?

You just have to laugh at this. One TV news outlet has regularly been presenting conservative sides of various arguments and this is a "sinister" thing (as it's inevitably perceived by folks like Alterman, surely). My God. People have now been exposed to pro-life viewpoints when there's a discussion of abortion. The NRA may have a spokesperson on to counter a gun-control advocate. And goodness gracious, there may actually be people in favor of the Iraq War on sharing their views.

How dare Fox News Channel? How dare they "take" 3-8 percent of the vote from the righteous Democrats?? IT'S NOT FAIR!!

Posted by Hube at April 24, 2006 06:43 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

People have now been exposed to pro-life viewpoints when there's a discussion of abortion. The NRA may have a spokesperson on to counter a gun-control advocate.

Come on, Hube. I know it's an issue where we'll never come close to agreeing. But do you have anything that even resembles evidence to back up such ridiculous statements? Can you honestly say you see stories on non-FOX network news where the NRA and anti-abortion views are not represented when appropriate? Show one to me next time you see it and I'll back you 100% on a bad-reporting claim. If there's a story that is actually about gun control, the NRA is always represented -- as they damn well should be. Likewise with any story about abortion rights.

In fact, perhaps the biggest problem in the media today, as I (and others) have said many times, is too much of the automatic "he-said-she-said." That is, two "sides" being presented as equal, even when one side is clearly factually incorrect and/or presenting falsehoods that can be exposed with minimal research.

Posted by: dan at April 28, 2006 08:46 AM

On a completely unrelated note... what age kids do you teach? I am in the early stages of pondering a career change (can't take this liberal media anymore.. :) ) and I've always had an interest in education. I've been told by burned-out teachers that it can drive one insane...but then, I've heard people say that about just about every job.

And it would have to be mighty maddening to negate having the summers off!

Posted by: dan at April 28, 2006 09:20 AM

dan: Yes, I absolutely can say without reservation that on non-Fox networks there have been instances of not provided a balanced report consistent with my description above. This was much more common than you think pre-Fox news; admittedly it has gotten much better since Fox. That's because OF Fox, I bet, and accounts for Fox's meteoric rise in the ratings over the years. No matter how you try to spin it, that rise is due to conservative viewers finally having an outlet that provides THEIR perspectives on a regular basis. Period. And, it has absolutely nothing to do with "he said/she said." That is the liberal elitist in you speaking. I am not even close to arguing that, for example, Holocaust deniers deserve equal space with Holocaust historians.

Regarding your 2nd comment, send me an e-mail and I'll be happy to answer. :-)

Posted by: Hube at April 28, 2006 06:12 PM

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