Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind

Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind

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by Tim Groseclose

ISBN-10: 0312555938

ISBN-13: 9780312555931

Pub. Date: 07/19/2011

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Dr. Tim Groseclose, a professor of political science and economics at UCLA, has spent years constructing precise, quantitative measures of the slant of media outlets. He does this by measuring the political content of news, as a way to measure the PQ, or “political quotient” of voters and politicians.

Among his conclusions are: (i) all mainstream

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Dr. Tim Groseclose, a professor of political science and economics at UCLA, has spent years constructing precise, quantitative measures of the slant of media outlets. He does this by measuring the political content of news, as a way to measure the PQ, or “political quotient” of voters and politicians.

Among his conclusions are: (i) all mainstream media outlets have a liberal bias; and (ii) while some supposedly conservative outlets—such the Washington Times or Fox News’ Special Report—do lean right, their conservative bias is less than the liberal bias of most mainstream outlets.

Groseclose contends that the general leftward bias of the media has shifted the PQ of the average American by about 20 points, on a scale of 100, the difference between the current political views of the average American, and the political views of the average resident of Orange County, California or Salt Lake County, Utah. With Left Turn readers can easily calculate their own PQ—to decide for themselves if the bias exists. This timely, much-needed study brings fact to this often overheated debate.

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.54(h) x 1.02(d)

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction 1

Part I Political Quotients and the Science of Politics 9

1 What Are PQs and How Do They Reveal Media Bias? 11

2 Caught in a Trap: Problems in Judging Media Bias 18

3 But I've Been to Oklahoma 26

4 Ps and Qs of PQs 36

5 Defining the "Center" 48

Part II A Distortion Theory of Media Bias 61

6 Lies, Damned Lies, and Omitted Statistics: A Case Study in Distortion Theory 63

7 Hidden Under a Bushel 78

8 An "Alien" Conservative Injected into a Liberal Newsroom and the Topics She Might Cover 89

Part III Evidence of Liberal Media Bias 97

9 Political Views in the Newsroom: Viva Homogeneity 99

10 The Second-Order Problem of an Unbalanced Newsroom 111

11 The Anti-Newsroom, Washington County, Utah 123

12 Walk a Mile in the Shoes of a Centrist 136

13 "Wise Men from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Say…" 151

14 The Language of Journalists and the Special Case of Partial-Birth Abortion 161

15 The Language of Journalists and the Gentzkow-Shapiro Measure of Media Bias 169

16 Facts About the Bush Tax Cuts: Another Way to Measure Media Bias Objectively and Quantitatively 178

17 The Media Mu 192

Part IV Effects of Media Bias 199

18 Measuring the Influence of the Media I: Many Methods False and Spent, and One That's Not 201

19 Measuring the Influence of the Media II: Two More Groundbreaking Experiments 213

20 The Media Lambda 219

21 Rendezvous with Clarity 234

22 Walk a Mile in the Shoes of a Centrist … Whose Mind Has Not Been Distorted by Media Bias 241

Epilogue: Small Steps Toward a Better Media 249

Acknowledgments 257

Notes 261

Index 279

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Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Jambosrule More than 1 year ago
The author hypothesizes that there is a left wing media bias in the mainstream media today, but not only does he try to prove it, he also attempts to quantify exactly how far to the left any certain media outlet leans. I felt that he did the job quite well; I was amazed that each time I felt that there might be a problem with his statistical analysis, he addressed it in one way or another. I thought the book was interesting and very thoroughly researched. There was always a different angle or wrinkle in each chapter to keep it moving along. The one suggestion I do have is to get the book off the shelf and not on an e reader. I read it on my nook and could not get the charts to come up in larger print. While some of the tables just had statistical information, some of the information, like the "media mu" was very important to the point the author was trying to make. Overall, great read.
UncleDennis More than 1 year ago
Professor Groseclose does a great job with Left Turn, informing you with objective data, some great analysis, and some key ideas to keep in mind as you read your newspaper, watch the evening news, or sit back and ponder the big issues being discussed. Now, if you believe that most of the MainStream Media (MSM) is down-the-middle and unbiased, this book will be a bit of a shock, as Doc Groseclose does what a good college professor should -- he brings DATA to back up his theories and thoughts. But I don't want to dwell on the Left vs. Right aspects of the book (as I think anyone with an open mind can gain some insight from Left Turn), and instead I want to share the one realization I came to after reading the book: Forgetting the possible (although, if you read the book, more likely-than-not) bias in HOW a story is reported in the MSM, the bigger concern is WHAT is being reported. WHAT stories a reporter selects to report on is JUST as important as HOW they report a story. This realization alone should open some minds to see our MSM for what it really is - a subjective representation of stories and events, not only told through a mostly-leftleaning vision, but also selected through a similar vision. Great book overall.
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
In a different universe, a book like this one would never have been written. Not because it’s in any way false (it’s as far from it as it is intellectually possible), nor because its subject matter is uninteresting or boring. No, this kind of book ought not to have been written because in a perfectly honest world there would be absolutely no need for it. The fact that most of the media outlets lean heavily to the left should be so patently obvious to any intellectually honest person that a book like this one would be stacked in the bookstore between the book proving that the sky is blue and the one demonstrating the wetness of water. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfectly honest world, so there is a great need for a book like the “Left Turn” – a honest and rigorous analysis of the extent and the nature of the left wing bias in the media. There have been many other books dealing with this topics written over the past couple of decades, and each one of them had an interesting and insightful take on the topic of left wing media bias. However, what distinguishes the “Left Turn” is its scope, accuracy, and the academically accepted high standards of research. The author, Tim Groseclose, is a distinguished social scientist, and all the work upon which this book is based has previously appeared in high-level peer reviewed journals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that his work is free of error of any kind, but it significantly raises the bar for anyone who wants to have it dismissed out of hand. One of the main lessons that anyone can take from reading this book is that political bias is a very real thing, it is possible to operationally define it, it is possible to measure it, and most importantly it is possible to draw meaningful conclusion about individuals and institutions that embody different degrees of bias. Bias, in itself, doesn’t mean that the individuals and media outlets are outright lying in order to present the stories and information in a way that favors their own “side.” That sort of bias does exist, but it’s relatively small compared to the main sources of bias in the media – selectively presenting facts and stories in such a way that the fully picture gets irrevocably distorted. Groseclose shows examples of how that sort of bias operates, and gives an estimate of the extent to which the twenty most significant news sources in the US are biased. (Newsflash – except Fox News and Washington Times all of them lean to the left.) One of my favorite chapters in the book is the one in which Groseclose decides to try to visit a US city that leans to the right by an approximately same amount as the typical newsroom leans to the left. This is an almost impossible task, and he only approximately succeeds by visiting a small town in Utah, dominated by Mormons and settled by the southerners in the 19th century. Even so, the place is generally congenial to all of its residents (even the head of the local Democratic party) and a far cry from the shrill extreme left rhetoric and attitude that is found in most news sources these days. The final sections of the book discuss some really remarkable claims: were it not for the extreme media bias the US population as a whole would be tilting even more to the right. In other words, if all of the media outlets overnight decided to be perfectly “moderate” on all of their news coverage, they would still be substantially to the left of what most public would find to be the “natural” po
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
so25 More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I didn't continue reading, but from what I did read, I found the author to be incredibly conservatively biased. If he's writing a book about eliminating bias, isn't it disturbing that the author himself explicitly says liberals have no manners? Or that the ideal PQ should be 25 instead of 50?