Most Americans are skeptical about the accuracy of media news reporting. Surveys have shown that 47 percent of people feel that the media is liberal-leaning. In comparison, only 17 percent thought that there was a conservative bias. A question then arises: With the news industry being such a competitive field, how could such a uniform bias exist?
Though reporters and editors have their own individual political and social views, this does not have to be reflected in their reporting. As subjectivity and neutrality are keystone principles of journalism ethics, news reports should not be colored by personal opinion. By normal market principles, if there is bias, it should be offset by the emergence of new, more neutral competitors.
The reality is more complicated. American political scientist Tim Groseclose’s 2012 book Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind uses rigorous scientific methods to analyze the political leanings of major American media. His findings revealed that the political leanings of American media on average trend exceedingly toward liberalism and progressivism—far left of the typical voting citizen. The “mainstream” media are even further left of this average.
The book explains that the majority of media professionals are liberals, which objectively speaking, puts pressure on traditionalists in the field. The small number of conservatives working in liberal media companies are seen as “mildly evil or subhuman,” according to Groseclose. Even if they aren’t squeezed out of employment, they dare not air their political views publicly, much less promote conservative viewpoints in print or on television.
Left-wing bias discourages students with conservative viewpoints from picking journalism as their major, or getting a job in the media after graduation. The community of media professionals excludes views that do not align with its liberal bias, thus forming political echo chambers. Individuals in this community see themselves as the compassionate and intelligent elite at the forefront of societal development, while looking down on ordinary citizens as stubborn commoners.
But the mainstream media does not necessarily represent the opinions of the social mainstream. Gallup’s 2016 poll verified this. According to the poll, 36 percent of American citizens are conservatives, while liberals number just over 25 percent. That is to say, if media accurately reflected the views of a majority of citizens, then the media as a whole wouldn’t be left-leaning.
The leftist bent of media is evidently not the result of popular will. Rather, it comes from the behind-the-scenes pushing of a political agenda intended to shift the entire demographic to the political left. This is also explained in the above poll—citizens on the whole are changing their views to become more liberal and progressive. The gap between conservatives and liberals in 1996 was 22 percent; in 2014 it was 14 percent; and in 2016 it was 11 percent. The proportion of conservatives has remained stable, but many in the middle have been converted to the Left. The mainstream media has an undeniable role in this demographic transformation, which in turn sustains the media’s ideological bias.
There are also some issues when looking at media professionals’ partisan affiliations. In the United States, Democrats are associated with the Left while Republicans tend to lean right. According to a 2014 survey by The Washington Post, 28.1 percent of media personnel in the United States were Democrats compared to just 7.1 percent reporting themselves to be Republicans.
The majority of people working in major newspapers and TV stations are leftists, be they the owners of these organizations or the reporters and commentators. Their bias is obvious. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, fifty-seven of the nation’s one hundred biggest newspapers—making a combined circulation of thirteen million—openly endorsed the Democratic candidate. Just two of the top hundred, with a circulation of 300,000 papers between them, supported the Republican candidate.
Why does the media lean so far to the left? In the 1960s, the country was heavily influenced by communist ideology, with radical left-wing social movements taking the United States by storm. The radical students of that period later entered the media, the academic community, upper-class society, government agencies, and the arts scene, thus establishing control over public discourse.
The majority of university professors are leftists, as discussed in Chapter 12. Departments of journalism and literature, filled with left-wing ideology, have brought generations of graduates under its influence. Media workers are not paid high salaries, instead relying on their idealistic sense of purpose to persevere in the field. This idealism has become the tool for transforming the media into a left-wing base of operations.
Along with news media, the film industry is also under siege. Hollywood has become a bastion of left-wing propaganda. Using sophisticated production and narrative techniques, left-leaning producers promote leftist ideologies that have reached the entire world. The main theme of Hollywood films usually appears to be slandering capitalism and emphasizing class conflict, while praising immoral behavior or anti-American sentiment.
Author Ben Shapiro interviewed many movie stars and producers in Hollywood and wrote a book titled Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV. According to Shapiro, a famous producer said that in this profession, liberalism is 100 percent dominant, and that anyone who denies this is either kidding or not telling the truth. When asked whether having a different political standpoint could hinder a person’s pursuit of the movie industry, he answered, “Absolutely.”
A famous producer blatantly admitted that Hollywood has been selling liberal political views through the programs. “Right now there’s only one perspective. And it’s a very progressive perspective.” The producer of a television series about criminal police admitted that he intentionally shows more whites as the criminals because he didn’t “want to contribute to negative stereotypes.”
Shapiro argues that nepotism in Hollywood is ideological rather than familial: Friends hire friends with the same ideological views. The openness with which the Hollywood crowd admits its anti-conservative discrimination inside the industry is shocking. Those who talk about tolerance and diversity have no tolerance when it comes to respecting diversity of ideology.
From Chapter Thirteen: Hijacking the Media