Monday, November 14, 2016

First Hack at Reality

Politics is a squirrely arena.  There are facts, distorted facts, mistruths, bald-faced lies, and expressed ideals.  All of these are often put forward as common sense truths with full throated conviction.  Back in 2014, my friend noted that 2016 would be the first election of the internet meme.  That was a bit much of hyperbole, but there seems to perhaps be some truth to it.  A Pew Research study reported in May of 2016 that 44% of adults in the United States use Facebook to get their news.  If your Facebook feed was like mine it was full of distorted truth and outright lies. 

It seems as if we have begun to move away from the center-moderate print based media that runs the gamut.  A 2014 study looked at how people on the political spectrum are separated by their news sources.  It makes sense when you looked at that how some get angry at Fox News for being too liberal as many far right conservatives turn to the more base reporting coming out of sources like Brietbart or the Blaze.  Meanwhile, you can see why NPR devotees often get irritated with CNN.  Now, keep in mind, this is about audience bias and is not necessarily media bias.  One would think if the audience is in a certain political perspective that news as entertainment will try to court that perspective.

When you look at how media reports, well, things can be difficult.  It is hard to measure media bias.  You cannot simply survey their perspectives to get an idea of how their product is presented on TV.  One measure is to look at transcripts and try to figure out bias there by looking at certain word groupings and structures.  Doing that, that was presented in 2012:
ABC Good Morning America 56.1
ABC World News Tonight 61.0 
CBS Early Show 66.6 
CBS Evening News 73.7
CNN NewsNight with Aaron Brown 56.0
Drudge Report 60.4 
Fox News Spec. Rept. w/ Brit Hume 39.7
Los Angeles Times 70.0 
NBC Nightly News 61.6 
NBC Today Show 64.0 
New York Times 73.7 
Newshour with Jim Lehrer 55.8
Newsweek 66.3 
NPR Morning Edition 66.3
Time Magazine 65.4 
U.S. News and World Report 65.8
USA Today 63.4 
Wall Street Journal 85.1
Washington Post 66.6 
Washington Times 35.4
Keep in mind these are not the editorial boards of these papers.  If so, we would not expect the Wall Street Journal to be the most liberal coverage even though in this assessment it has the most liberal news coverage.  It often can be difficult to discern between editorials and news coverage.  Perhaps, you can understand why many conservatives flocked to Fox News and more rightward media: News is liberal.  That probably is who flocks to the industry and it appears to be evident in their product. 

Of course, the Washington Times being a 35 does not make it more right than Time Magazine.  Just that it is biased to a similar extent.  One also kind of wonders about some of the metrics used here.  Is the Drudge Report really leaning left.  That seems to not pass the smell test, but I have nothing numerically based at the moment to dispute it.

Anyway, this is the arena we exist in.  Various news organizations report what happens and that is transformed based on unconscious and conscious bias.  Social media has done a lot to mainstream access to many obscure and politically extreme news sources with the audience sometimes unable to discern between media or able/willing to perform simple fact checking.

This blog has no intention of chasing down and fact checking things.  Instead, this is simply an exploration of various major topics and looking at what perspectives are in an America that straddles the liberal/conservative gap.  I am a liberal, but my intent is not to put forward an agenda.  I just want to know what is out there and what do we really know about the thinks we think we know.