New Liberal Study 'Lends Credence to Conservative Charges' of Bias; Dramatic Media Tilt Toward 'Gay Marriage'

In a study finding that should be completely obvious to anyone who spends an hour with the media, the liberal-leaning Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism has found media coverage “was tilted massively against those who favor traditional marriage.”

Pew’s study of more than 1,000 stories from March 18 to May 12 found what anyone could find. Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple noted the numbers back up the lament from Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage that even Fox News doesn’t want to hear their side of the argument:

Here’s how coverage on Fox News broke out, according to the PEJ: 63 percent mixed, 29 percent supportive and 8 percent opposing.

...The numbers establish that organizations across all kinds of media categories were running stories highly favorable of gay marriage: Network news, cable news, NPR and so on.

Given that disparity, you might expect that a guy like Rush Limbaugh would help to equalize things. But not particularly — the numbers show that of the nine Limbaugh segments evaluated, two-thirds were neutral! How’s that possible?

This recalls what we at the MRC normally warn about the PEJ methodology: it doesn’t study the entirety of coverage, but employs a “Swiss cheese” methodology that skips days and rotates among media outlets. But they are in the liberal media “mainstream,” so their studies tend to carry more weight than the every-show, every-day, or every-newspaper analysis we do at MRC on behalf of the conservative complaint.

Among the cable news outlets, MSNBC led their list at 64 percent tilted to the left, 30 percent mixed, and 6 percent opposing, with CNN next at 39 percent supporting the gay-marriage push, 57 percent mixed and 4 percent opposing.

As MRC’s Dan Gainor pointed out to me yesterday, notice how they found that the network evening and morning shows had zero stories that tilted two-to-one to social conservatives, but the morning shows had 44 percent of their stories tilting more than two to one to the Left for gay marriage and the evening shows were loaded with bias in 46 percent of stories. (The rest were in their neutral zone.)


This is the overarching theme for the news media studied:

Across the main sample of news media, statements in support of same-sex marriage greatly outnumbered those in opposition. Of the 488 stories examined in this study, 47% included twice as many statements in support of same-sex marriage than in opposition. Less than a fifth of that number (9%) included more statements in opposition while 44% carried a roughly even mix of viewpoints or none at all. This pattern is true for reported stories and for editorials and commentary.

"The study lends credence to conservative charges that the nation's news media have championed the issue of same-sex marriage at the expense of objectivity," wrote Brian Stelter at The New York Times. "Others have argued that news organizations are right not to overly emphasize opposition to what many see as a core civil rights issue."

At The Wall Street Journal, James Taranto added: “To sum up: The so-called mainstream media are overwhelmingly biased in favor of a position on which the public is evenly split. Within the media, there are two prevailing attitudes toward this bias: denial and defiance.”

Pew’s headline suggested the tilt was simply reflecting momentum, not trying to cause it: “News Coverage Conveys Strong Momentum for Same-Sex Marriage.”

Defenders of liberal bias would say the media is merely reflecting the reality of momentum. But liberal journalists often fight wildly against momentum – see their post-Newtown railing for gun control measures. The media aren’t merely reflecting momentum on homosexuality, they’re aggressively pushing it, boasting like Robin Roberts of getting chills when Obama changes his public position. Any study should find the same result.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis