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Debunking ‘liberal media’ myth

TomEliasW

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From page A10 | January 31, 2014 | 27 Comments

Listening to radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, you’d think all newspapers, radio and television stations are owned by the pinkest of leftists.

But a series of moves by the nation’s largest owner of radio stations, Clear Channel (controlled by the Bain Capital firm once headed by 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney), means the most-heard medium in California will now carry almost exclusively conservative material.

That medium is talk radio, where until this month at least a couple of high-wattage liberal or “progressive” oriented stations in this state’s biggest metropolitan areas offered a semblance of competition to the far-right voices whose ratings are tops here even as California voters mostly register and vote Democratic.

Here’s what Clear Channel, which owns all stations involved, is doing: It has taken liberal talkers including Stephanie Miller (daughter of Barry Goldwater running mate Bill Miller), Randi Rhodes and Bill Press off its KTLK 1150 AM station in Los Angeles and removed the liberal hosts who worked at KNEW 960 AM Oakland-San Francisco.

Into their places go Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and other ultra-conservative hosts. All are syndicated by Clear Channel-owned Premiere Networks. KTLK has even been renamed The Patriot, KEIB AM 1150, taking its letters from the satiric, fake “Excellence in Broadcasting” network that originates in Limbaugh’s fertile imagination.

Clear Channel made these moves for reasons of profit. The three conservatives bring far higher ratings than any liberals. All were already on the air in the same markets, while their most left-leaning colleagues probably will disappear from California’s publicly owned airwaves.

The sheer number of cars stuck in traffic in the two big metro areas at times when Clear Channel’s favored hosts appear guarantees higher advertising rates for the stations they’re now on.

Liberal talk won’t quite completely disappear from California’s airwaves. The Pacifica Foundation’s stations, KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angles and KPFA 94.1 FM Berkeley, will continue operating as before, as will the 39 NPR stations, which carry a decent share of liberal-leaning programs mostly underwritten by large corporations.

But virtually all those stations broadcast on the FM band, where signals are much less powerful and far-reaching than many AM stations. Where FM radio signals often don’t make it even over low hills, the nighttime signal of Clear Channel’s KFI-AM Los Angeles can be heard throughout most of the West.

Limbaugh says he happy with the shift. He should be; he’ll have many thousands more listeners than before to his constant commentary. “(Limbaugh) has built the ratings and revenue of hundreds of America’s most successful radio stations and is looking forward to doing the same at these new Clear Channel homes,” said his spokesman, Brian Glicklich.

The other view is that the move leaves a major medium in extremely one-sided condition. “This leaves radio listeners completely unserved by anything but corporatist, right-wing radio over our publicly owned airwaves,” griped liberal blogger Brad Friedman.

Because Clear Channel controls so many stations, both in California and across the country, there’s not much listeners can do. A liberal boycott of stations like KEIB and KNEW likely would have low numbers and little impact, because Clear Channel already expected those listeners to leave those stations the moment it moved in the conservative hosts.

The bottom line is that the old shibboleth of liberal media has just been debunked again: Two of the nation’s largest and most liberal metropolitan areas will have nothing but rightist rhetoric on their AM airwaves, which far outdraw whatever liberal talk might be available via FM. That’s conservative domination, not the other way around.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at tdelias@aol.com

 

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Discussion | 27 comments

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  • Jeff BooneJanuary 30, 2014 - 11:40 am

    And ironically here we have more liberal bias in the media. Talk radio is the ONLY media type that is right-biased. And it is not from any monopoly of the airwaves... it is simply that left-learning news talk does not sell. But newspapers, magazines, TV, Hollywood... and the majority of the Internet media... they are all tilted left. But Mr. Elias just fails to mention this. A UCLA study completed in 2008 completely proved that our media has drifted extremely left and is absolutely left-biased. Tom Elias loses credibility as an honest and objective columnist with junk like this.

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  • January 30, 2014 - 11:55 am

    Thanks Jeff for debunking Mr. Elias's wrong take on the liberal dominated media myth. Most liberals would like you to think that the media isn't biased to the left, that seems to be one of their talking points, but anyone that doesn't live in a cave knows the truth.

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 31, 2014 - 10:12 am

    It's true that talk radio has a fairly large audience (I believe for than 10 million listeners per day) but this is mostly already a conservative audience who are seeking out these shows. Mainstream media reaches a much larger and more varied audience, and it is clearly liberally biased. If you want to know which way the media wind blows, ask people about Benghazi versus Bridgegate, and see how many people have an awareness and grasp of these two situations. I read Bernard Goldberg's book BIAS around 15 years ago. He lays out the case in a very logical fashion that is hard to refute. However, it is not difficult to see the way things work by simply taking a look around.

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  • Greg JohnsonJanuary 31, 2014 - 10:15 am

    Furthermore, the title of this article casts serious doubt on Mr. Elias' critical reasoning skills. "Debunking" ? Give me a break!

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  • Noreen MazelisJanuary 31, 2014 - 1:10 pm

    NOTE that the left-leaning PBS stations are ones which we taxpayers are FORCED to support; on the other hand, conservative "talk radio" gathers sponsors and listeners based upon APPEAL, not fiscal coercion.

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  • MLJanuary 31, 2014 - 3:20 pm

    Ninety two percent of the "mainstream" media voted for Bill Clinton, while Barack Obama was treated to a two-year coronation when he became the President. They gave him the Nobel Peace Prize before his seat was even warm! Talk radio is a small, but needed, outlet, just like Drudgereport.

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  • GAJanuary 31, 2014 - 7:31 pm

    I'm tired of hearing conservatives complain about the "liberal media." You've already conceded that the radio airwaves are dominated by conservative voices. On TV, you've got Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, George Will, Bill Krystol, Bill O'Reilly. etc. What the hell are you complaining about? And Noreen, while you complain about being forced to pay for NPR, I wonder why I was forced to pay for two wars (way more expensive than the entire history of public radio/tv), instigated by right-wing influences that I never agreed with, so quit your whining!

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  • Greg JohnsonFebruary 01, 2014 - 11:27 am

    Yes, conservatives are honest enough to admit that talk radio is a conservative medium. Why are liberals not honest enough to admit that mainstream media is liberally biased. You cite a bunch of conservative commentators who are all on Fox news which has a few million viewers. The reason that you chose one network is because that is the ONLY conservative network. Then, you spout off about 2 wars which have nothing to do with the subject, BUT if you check you will see that the authorization of force in Iraq was strongly bipartisan. The media is overwhelmingly liberal. That is a truth that is plain to all those who take an honest look.

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  • GAFebruary 01, 2014 - 2:14 pm

    I respectfully disagree that the mainstream media has a liberal bias. Can we agree that there are four major networks in the "mainstream" media (for those, like myself, who don't subscribe to cable): ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX. All four of these networks run a Sunday morning news program where politics is the focus, and all four have a panel discussion that includes Democrats and Republicans. Each side has a chance to make a point on whatever topic they are discussing. Of the people I mentioned, Brit Hume and George Will are on ABC (although I think Will recently left), NBC as National Review editor Rich Lowry and Robert Gibbs, and CBS with Bob Sheiffer always has a prominent conservative voice. Of course, FOX has Bill Krystol, and Chris Wallace, the host, is blatant in his attacks on democrats. Then, if you do have cable, you can watch Bill O'Reilly, Joe Scarborough, Greta Van Susteren and others. Bottom line: there is no shortage of conservative viewpoints on television, and given that the airwaves are now dominated by right-wing talk show hosts, I believe Elias' column is on target. The term 'liberal media' is catchy, but not true.

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  • greg johnsonFebruary 01, 2014 - 5:09 pm

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/nets-give-bridgegate-17-times-more-coverage-in-1-day-than-irs-scandal-in-6-months/article/2541896 This is a link to a recent classic example. Christie is on the radar as a possible '16 nominee and the attack dogs are out. It appears he may be guilty and if so, I'd like to seem him burn. However, if the situation were reversed, there would have been much different coverage. The media (other than Fox and talk radio) has coddled Obama. No republican could have gotten out of the Benghazi situation, or many other controversial Obama ties and actions. You should read Bernard Goldberg's book BIAS. The logic is pretty undeniable. One point he makes is that the media are not representative of the people, so they couldn't be unbiased even if they tried. All of the commentators you mentioned (including Will and Hume) I've seen on Fox. I actually find Chris Wallace to be pretty fair (asks tough questions to both sides) as are Candy Crowley and Fareed Zacharia on CNN. There are conservatives in the media only for those who seek them out. The mainstream wind blows left.

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  • GAFebruary 01, 2014 - 8:49 pm

    If the media is not representative of the people, and therefore cannot be unbiased, then why should I trust FOX news? Seems like Goldberg is writing from a biased standpoint himself, but I may check it out. Shall I read some Ann Coulter as well?

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  • greg johnsonFebruary 02, 2014 - 10:25 am

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0110/32039.html Apparently, in a random poll, Fox came out as most trusted. I agree with this, although the comparison is relative. I'm not saying you should trust any network. All I'm saying is people not sifting through from their own perspective (that is most people) will get a harder push from the left. As for Bernie Goldberg, he describes in his book that he had been a lifelong democrat, and was working, I believe, for CBS news. He was discussing a news piece with his contractor, who pointed out the bias to him in a CBS piece. This was a wake-up call to him, and after that it has been his field of interest. It's a well-written book. I haven't read his second, "A slobbering love affair" (bet you can guess what that's about) but I imagine it's a good read as well.

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  • ontFebruary 03, 2014 - 12:50 am

    “This is a link to a recent classic example”. So much “liberal media” and yet you found another right wing publication to link to. Your article is merely a paragraph or two uncritically quoting a right-wing outfit’s biased “study.” And the comparison made is laughable. The dishonest comparison they make is between the start of the time the political nature of the Christie administration’s bridge closing became clear, and for the IRS story, a time frame a couple of months after the accusations were made. There was a huge media feeding frenzy over the IRS accusations when it was a breaking story, but your article completely ignores that. Further, there should have been much more coverage of the IRS accusations several months after the initial stories when it became clear the initial accusations were bunk and in fact all politically oriented groups, left and right, were scrutinized in their applications for tax-exempt status. Instead, the Obama-coddling “liberal media” gave this exonerating information hardly any airtime. So your link is a “classic example” but only in the opposite way you intended. What we really have, primarily, is 1) a lazy, scandal-mongering corporate media exemplified by the networks, WA Post, Time etc, and 2) dishonest, right-wing hacks posing as journalists (Fox, NY Post, Washington Times, Daily Caller...) who function as opposition researchers for the GOP, and help the GOP work the corporate media and push them further right.

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  • ontFebruary 03, 2014 - 12:55 am

    “No republican could have gotten out of the Benghazi situation” Somehow I don’t remember non-stop, trumped-up investigations by Democrats of the dozen or so attacks on US diplomatic outposts while Bush was in office. What’s different is the GOP’s shamelessness in attempting to make political hay off the death of 4 Americans, which had its genesis in the desperate Romney campaign. He was willing to say anything to get elected, even to the point of launching political attacks as Americans were under attack in Libya and Egypt. And even now, long after their pet conspiracy theories have been debunked, the GOP and its flunkies continue to try to get some political mileage out of these tragic deaths. What a great group of patriots.

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  • zabaFebruary 03, 2014 - 10:54 pm

    why should I trust FOX news? Seriously GA, do you only draw conclusions from news presenters? Conservative thinkers use critical thinking. You should give it a whirl.

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  • Jeff BooneFebruary 03, 2014 - 9:03 am

    The only thing more telling than the obvious left-tilt of the main media is the number of left-leaning people that deny it.

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 03, 2014 - 9:59 am

    Jeff, I think it's more of a factor of the right wing falling deeper into their own narrative. Nobody illustrated the Colbert quote "reality has a well known liberal bias" better than ol' Ted Cruz, who recently declared with a straight face that he didn't support the government shutdown. I suppose you believe him, and that it must have been someone else reading "Green Eggs and Ham" last fall.

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  • Jeff BooneFebruary 03, 2014 - 10:09 am

    Puddin Tane, How much reporting was there on the choices made by the Obama Administration for which services to stop during the government shutdown? Fox and news talk radio reported it, but not the main media. Those choices were clearly political... the ones that would raise the most ire from voters. It is said that Democrats love their politicians to the point that they would suffer abuse in the relationship. Here we have proof. The problem is not so much that the media has shifted way left. The problem is that we have so many people denying it... obviously because it provides them political advantage. It is an addiction problem of the left... and like all addictions it will lead to decline.

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 03, 2014 - 11:05 am

    There was actually quite a bit of reporting by the media (not just Fox) about the services that were shut down, especially the WW2 memorial. But it seems you have a selective memory, seeing how you didn't address my point about Ted Cruz's attempt at revising history concerning his role on the shut down. Let's try this again: did Ted Cruz facilitate the shutdown last fall by staging a 21 hour speech (including a rendition of Green Eggs and Ham) in an attempt to bypass legislative procedure by defunding the ACA on the threat of a government shutdown, which he got? I'll wait while you muster a feeble response to exonerate Mr. Cruz and his blatant attempt at revising history.

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  • Jeff BooneFebruary 03, 2014 - 11:17 am

    Why do you bring up Ted Cruz when the issue is the liberal media? It seems a common tactic from folks complicit with the liberal tilt of the media to deflect from that topic. If you want to do a tit-for-tat on the honesty of politicians, we will have to include the long list of Obama lies by comparison, and then tabulate the number of stories about each from the liberal-tilted main media, Fox and news talk radio. Nobody in congress has the authority to shut down the government. Do you want to dispute that fact?

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  • Puddin TaneFebruary 03, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    I bring him up to highlight the conservative tenancy to blindly stick to their narratives, including the "media has a liberal bias". Since Ted Cruz has been given a pass on his revisionism during his CBS interview, I find your claim of liberal bias questionable, at best. I also think it's curious that viewers of Fox are most likely to be misinformed about issues (see the study from the University of Maryland) and most likely to trust Fox News as a reputable source (see the recent Public Policy Polling survey, which lists Fox as both least AND most trust worthy). Seems like an interesting correlation, though not necessarily causation. Anyways, my point is that with conservatives relying on Fox for news, and with Fox relying on narratives for content, maybe it's more of an issue of perceived liberal bias (since Fox operates with the "if you're not for us, you're against us" mentality) than actual liberal bias in practice? The obvious glaring exception is MSNBC, which is no better than Fox in terms of skewing their "news."

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  • Jeff BooneFebruary 03, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    http://freakonomics.com/2012/02/16/how-biased-is-your-media/ Quote: "In a 2004 paper, Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo took a stab at media bias; that paper became the launching point of Groseclose’s book Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind." So, how does the left and left-media respond to this? They discount it because Groseclose and Milyo are right-leaning (so the left and left-media says). And there you have it folks... the common tactic of the left and left-media... discounting and demonizing anyone and everyone that does not goose-step to their ideological leanings. Please, somebody... point to anything that proves the left and left media can be critical of themselves for failing to be critical of themselves. What do we hear? The din of crickets.

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  • ontFebruary 05, 2014 - 2:00 am

    " point to anything that proves the left and left media can be critical of themselves "....... I'm still waiting for Fox News et. al. to spend airtime fretting about whether they are guarding sufficiently against exhibiting conservative bias. Oh that's right, they alone are perfectly "fair and balanced" so that would be a waste of time.

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  • ontFebruary 05, 2014 - 2:07 am

    "...Groseclose’s book Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind."......So the Wall Street Journal is the most liberal media outlet in America and McCain, instead of losing decisively, would have beaten Obama in a landslide if not for media bias. It appears their fancy model is a bit rickety.

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  • zabaFebruary 03, 2014 - 11:20 pm

    The only thing more telling than the obvious left-tilt of the main media is the number of left-leaning people that deny it. Yes indeed Jeff, as evidenced by a couple of the posters on this thread. You have offered succinct comments they will not (and cannot) address.

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  • ontFebruary 05, 2014 - 1:57 am

    The liberal media hands out the Nobel Prize too? They're even more powerful than we knew.

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  • zabaFebruary 04, 2014 - 12:05 am

    Accepted Terminology Dry Bones cartoon You've got to use the accepted language in order to see things the "accepted" way. http://drybonesblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/accepted-terminology.html

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