Media Bias, Its Effects, and Its Implications for the Fairness Doctrine

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Tullock Lecture 2011 Presentation. Tim Groseclose, Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics at UCLA.

Many politicians, authors, and media professionals make claims of a liberal bias in the media — only to be dismissed as disgruntled, paranoid, or selective in their evidence of such bias. But what if they’re right? Tim Groseclose, a professor of political science and economics at UCLA, has spent years constructing precise quantitative measures of the slant of television, radio, and print media. He estimates the SQ, or slant quotient, of various news outlets. In his book, Left Turn, Groseclose reports some of the results of his research, including: (i) that nearly all mainstream media outlets have a liberal bias; (ii) that many so-called conservative outlets are in fact less tilted toward the right than the typical mainstream outlet is tilted toward the left; and (iii) the bias has shifted the average American’s PQ, or political quotient, significantly to the left.

In his presentation, Groseclose will also discuss the implications of his research for the Fairness Doctrine. Specifically, the Doctrine required outlets to present “controversial” issues in a “balanced” way. Groseclose contends that the definitions of controversial and balanced depend on the PQ of the average American voter. But if the latter can be distorted by media bias, defining “controversial” and “balanced” is tricky. So also is any implementation of the Fairness Doctrine. Tags: bounded-rationality model, fairness doctrine, media bias, political economy, political quotient, political science, slant quotient.

Presentation Slides [101 Slides]

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