Media Blog

A Relationship among Bias, Ratings, and Politics?

It’s a well-observed phenomenon that opinion media do better when their camp is in opposition. The Clinton administration made Rush Limbaugh’s fortune; National Review and other conservative opinion journals, I’m told, do better when the Democrats are in power. The converse holds broadly true for publications on the left.

I wonder, then, if CNN’s ratings crash could be interpreted as a confirmation of its establishment Democratic biases? Put another way, I suspect that the allegedly objective media probably experience something like the same cycles as the opinion organs, roughly in proportion to the extent that they are either biased or engaged in opinion journalism (which are not the same thing; it’s always seemed to me that Fox News’s news reportage is not remarkably biased, but the network’s programming is very heavily stacked with conservative opinion shows — and people watch Fox News for its commentators). As a pure question of business strategy, it seems like if you’re going to have a bias, it ought to be a bias against the party in power, whichever party that happens to be. Critical coverage is more lively than the fawning the allegedly objective media does over Obama, and highly engaged readers (and viewers) will tend to want information from adversarial sources, even if those sources don’t share their biases.

There are some obvious counterexamples to this theory: right now, both Fox and MSNBC are ascendent against CNN. So some qualification is in order but, taken generally, I think there may be some truth to this. I suspect that unified Democratic government won’t be as hard on the unabashedly left-wing programs as it will be on the news outlets that are reliably pro-Democrat but milquetoast in their tone: CNN, the Associated Press, &c. To that end, the increasingly hot tone of the New York Times may actually work to the paper’s benefit.

Most Popular


On College Campuses, Where Are the Adults?

Last week, political scientist and author Charles Murray spoke at a dinner in Manhattan about the death, as he calledit, of the American Dream. The “Disinvitation Dinner,” is given annually by Lauren Noble’s William F. Buckley Jr. Program to honor a speaker who has been kicked off a college campus for ... Read More

Hurray for the NBA

Last month, just before the Final Four, I did a Q&A on college basketball with our Theodore Kupfer. Teddy K. is back, by popular demand, joined by two other experts: Vivek Dave, an old friend of mine from Michigan, who has long lived in Chicago, and David French, National Review’s Kentucky Kid, now ... Read More
Economy & Business

Trade Misunderstandings

I was distracted by other policy topics last week but not enough not to notice Peter Navarro’s article in the Wall Street Journal, headlined “China’s Faux Comparative Advantage.” Considering Navarro’s position in the White House, it is unfortunate that it demonstrates some serious misunderstandings ... Read More

Joy Reid Denies Writing Homophobic Blog Posts

MSNBC personality Joy Reid's former blog, The Reid Report, published a series of anti-gay posts, which she claims were added to the site after it was shut down, by a hacker intent on destroying her reputation and nascent cable-news career. Reid, who discontinued the blog roughly a decade ago, apologized in ... Read More

On Trade, No One Is Waiting for Washington

President Donald Trump’s flips and flops on trade are now as ubiquitous as his 5:00 a.m. tweets. Many predicted that trade-expansion efforts would come to a standstill and world commerce would suffer amidst all the uncertainty. Instead, the precise opposite has happened. In the last few months, it’s become ... Read More