Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review of 'Left Turn' by Tim Groseclose

Scott Johnson of Power Line has been posting a series about the new book written by Professor Tim Groseclose of UCLA (formerly of Stanford and Harvard) – Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.  The preface outlines a key basis for the book:

In at least one important way journalists are very different from the rest of us – they are more liberal.  For instance, according to surveys, in a typical presidential election, Washington correspondents vote about 93-7 for the Democrat, while the rest of us vote about 50-50 for the two candidates.
As I demonstrate – using objective, social-scientific methods – the filtering [through liberal journalists] prevents us from seeing the world as it really is.  Instead, we only see a distorted version of it.  It is as if we see the world through a glass – a glass that magnifies the facts that liberals want us to see and shrinks the facts that conservatives want us to see.
This latest installment describes the impact on a story (in this case, the ‘flying imams’) of having a conservative reporter working in a liberal newsroom, namely Katherine Kersten at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“With that story,” said Kersten, “the typical reporter would investigate a little and say, ‘Nope, nothing more there.’  But I did some research on those guys, and there was one, Omar Shahin, who had a very checkered background.  When I researched him, it took so much time.  I worked so many hours.  Yeah, my conservative perspective definitely contributed.  If you’re not interested, if you don’t see a story, you won’t do it.  To do these sorts of things, you need to have a sort of antenna up – that there may be something fishy about those guys.  Most reporters didn’t have that antenna.
I think I was the only one who actually read that whole court document,” she said.  “And then, there it was, in that one paragraph.  They were suing the ‘John Does’ on the flight.  I thought, ‘This is awful.’” . . .
Within hours after the Star Tribune published her article, Power Line, the web log that helped expose Dan Rather’s “Memogate,” reported a summary of the article.  That evening, John Gibson of Fox News reported the story.  The next morning, the Washington Times and the New York Sun reported it.  The Sun gave credit to Kersten and noted that it learned of the story through Power Line.  Several days later, Bill O’Reilly mentioned the story on his show, and soon after that, several newspapers – including the Boston Globe, USA Today, and New York Times – ran opinion pieces about it.
As Kersten hypothesized, all evidence suggests that she was the only reporter to read the entire court document.  First, the timing agrees with her hypothesis.  Before her article, several news stories mentioned the lawsuit against the airline, but none mentioned that the lawsuit targeted the passengers.  But then after Kersten wrote the article, many reporters mentioned the passengers-being-sued fact.  Second, some of the latter reporters gave credit to Kersten. Third, my research found no reporters claiming to have discovered the passengers-being-sued fact on their own.
I have been following the series and I am hooked.  This is a good exposition of the liberal impact not only on the news, but how Americans view political and social reality, which is precisely the intent of the liberal WeltanschauungProfessor Gloseclose's CV shows that his immersion in the liberal sanctuaries of academia makes it difficult for his critics to dismiss him as some conservative member of the Benighted.

Update:  Scott Johnson provides another installment, wherein the Democrats in the House seek to forestall an attempt to protect the passengers who reported the provocative actions of the fly imams from being named in the imams' lawsuit.  The motion to protect was filed by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM):
Sadly, a lawsuit has been filed in Minnesota which named as defendants the Americans who were simply trying to protect themselves and their country.…
If we are serious about fighting terrorism, if we are serious about protecting Americans and asking them to help protect each other, then we must pass this motion.
If I leave my colleagues with one message about this motion, it is simply, no American should be sued for trying to stop terrorism.
The entry goes on to show the extraordinary lengths that the Democrats go to stifle the motion, and the result.

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