NewsBusters Executive Editor Tim Graham appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Saturday morning to discuss media bias in the presidential campaign and take calls from viewers across the country. The host, Kimberly Adams, began by talking about the generalities of media bias and how NewsBusters operates. Then she shared a long quote from the leftist website Vox by Eric Levitz claiming the media is dominated by Biden critics.
Of course, there are plenty of unabashedly left-of-center media outlets. And some of these do seek to boost narratives favorable for the Democratic Party. But Fox News is more consistently propagandistic than MSNBC and boasts a 42 percent larger viewership. Right-wing talk radio dwarfs the influence of progressive alternatives. Sinclair Broadcast Group — one of the largest owners of local TV news stations — is an ardently conservative family-owned firm that donates to the GOP and disseminates right-wing propaganda on its affiliate stations. And although the audience for Fox News and right-wing talk radio may consist largely of partisan Republicans, viewers of local evening news broadcasts are ideologically diverse.
Therefore, Trump has a much better apparatus for maintaining the approval and enthusiasm of his party’s voters, and for seeding politically favorable narratives, than Biden does.
Tim wasn’t buying it:
TIM GRAHAM: This kind of requires a multi-paragraph answer. Obviously, yes, Fox has a larger audience than MSNBC or CNN. But if you compare it to the evening newscasts on ABC or CBS or NBC, those all are going to be greater than Fox. Certainly, when you add them all together, they are much greater than Fox. I think sometimes when people say Sinclair owns all these TV stations, what’s ironic about is, yes, you could argue that maybe Sinclair’s local TV, maybe they send a corporate directive and say “you should say these words” or “do it this way.” But a lot of these Sinclair stations are ABC affiliates or NBC affiliates or CBS affiliates, so what they are doing in a lot of cases is putting out what you would call the mainstream media news.
We are always going to disagree with the idea that somehow the conservative media has greater influence than the liberal media or greater reach. I’m going to disagree with that, and you can have that debate. But obviously, yes, we feel that the media is dominated by — I mean, look at the White House briefing room. How many reporters in the White House briefing room voted for Trump? Maybe three. And you know, there’s like 80 people in there. I think that is where we are coming from. Most of what we call the legacy media, the established media, the big brands of media are liberals and Democrats.
Adams then pressed on the idea of whether an attempt to balance the news leads to offering time to falsehoods — a common liberal complaint. Tim mentioned Arianna Huffington writing a book titled Right Is Wrong, that the conservatives don’t deserve a space in the debate, and that mentality rules today. He added part of the problem now with falsehoods is that the “fact checkers” tilt to the left just like the liberal outlets and donors than fund them.
PS: A caller from Kentucky suggested Republicans have a “victim mentality” and are fearmongers. Tim replied that getting 90 percent negative coverage on TV can make you feel victimized. But he pushed back on the “fearmongers” argument, since climate change coverage is stuffed with fear. He said all sides employ emotional appeals — fear, love, hate, and division — but to claim just the conservatives sow fear, hate and division is wrong — and divisive.