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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptical Inquirer > July August 2019 > Who Are More Biased: Liberals or Conservatives?

Who Are More Biased: Liberals or Conservatives?

Stuart Vyse is a psychologist and author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, which won the William James Book Award of the American Psychological Association. He is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

Recently Jane Mayer (2019) of The New Yorker wrote about the very close relationship between Fox News and President Donald Trump, outlining in great detail how the Murdoch family–owned news outlet functions as a tacit communication operation of the Trump White House and its political agenda. There is a revolving door of former Fox News staff working in the White House and former White House staff working at Fox News, and according to many sources quoted in the article, Fox News has erased the lines of journalistic integrity and is now functioning as a Trump propaganda machine. Mayer argued that with respect to programming, it was often unclear whether Trump controlled Fox News or Fox News controlled Trump.

Meanwhile, the president himself continues to decry the “Fake News Networks,” by which he seems to mean any outlet to the left of Fox News. According to anonymous sources cited in Mayer’s article, President Trump had such animus toward CNN that he attempted to block AT&T’s purchase of Time-Warner, the parent company of CNN. The Trump Administration’s Department of Justice sued to block the merger, but in June a district court judge approved the deal (Ivanova 2018).

Conservatives who, like the president, believe the mainstream media (MSM) have a liberal bias have been supported by evidence that journalists are more likely to identify as Democrats than Republicans. A 1990 poll of forty-nine editors and writers at The Washington Post found only one person, Tony Kornheiser, a sports columnist, was a registered Republican, and he suggested he was a RINO (Republican in name only): “I don’t think the Republican Party would claim me” (Wemple 2017). A 2014 study conducted by the University of Indiana School of Journalism found that 28 percent of journalists surveyed identified as Democrat and 7 percent as Republicans. Fifty percent said they were Independents (Willnat and Weaver 2014).

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