Cable TV really does matter for political outcomes

This is only one estimate, from Gregory J. Martin and Ali Yurukoglu, but nonetheless it is backed by a plausible identification stragegy and this is very interesting research:

We find that in a hypothetical world without Fox News but with no other changes, the Republican vote share in the 2000 election would have been about half a percentage point lower. By 2008, the effect of there being no Fox News rises to more than six percentage points – a result of the channel’s increasing viewership and increasingly conservative slant over this period.

Unfortunately, that is followed by a real clunker of a paragraph:

All of these results suggest that citizens and regulators have reason to be concerned about media consolidation and the non-market objectives of media owners. A hypothetical monopolist controlling all three channels and interested in electoral influence would have enormous power over election outcomes.

How many things are wrong in those two sentences?  How can a profession supposedly devoted to rigor allow such sloppy thought to continue?  Here are a few of my objections:

1. The real story in this paper is about Fox News, and Fox — whether you like it or not — is very much an alternative to the mainstream media approach.  If you don’t like Fox, you might have preferred the “bad old days” of three dominant and pretty similar networks.

2. Do the authors have any argument that “the non-market objectives of media owners” are bad?  No.  In fact, there is a longstanding literature that “the market objectives of media owners” are bad, whether you agree or not.  Do they really just mean to say “I don’t like Fox News”?  Just say it.  Don’t worry, I don’t think most authors, especially of media studies, are objective to begin with.

3. Don’t the results suggest we should perhaps be worried about polarized news rather than consolidated news ownership?

4. Is it possible to consolidate news ownership in a world with so many cable channels and so many news alternatives to cable?  I strongly doubt this, but in any case it is not something the authors have shown.  Instead, they have shown that a renegade news channel can rise to a position of great political influence.

5. Might it have been better simply to have written?: “I am really worried that Rupert Murdoch, in the absence of regulation, could buy up all the news channels and implement political outcomes I do not like.”  That is an entirely coherent argument, and I wonder if it isn’t what the authors were getting at but couldn’t bring themselves to write it and thus were forced into the most illogical two sentences I have read this week.

6. By the way, Murdoch owns a lot of media properties and most of them have political stances, and most of all tones, fairly different from that of Fox News.  Worth a ponder.

For the pointer I thank the excellent Samir Varma.

Addendum: Andrew Gelman is skeptical of the basic result.

Comments

They look at Fox and MSNBC but have oddly little to say about CNN, not to mention the big three broadcast networks

There is a military term which I can't remember, about the forces lined up on either side of a battle. In this case you have Fox News on one side and on the other side, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, MSNB, CNN and the NYT, WaPo, LAT, etc. etc. Even Fox News, outside of the opinion shows, Tucker Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, Levin, Fox & Friends, Watters, Piro, is aligning more and more with the MSM. The local station that carries Rush Limbaugh has Fox News for its news at the top and bottom of the hour. I find it hard to distinguish from NBC news, for example.

Our local independent channel gets its national news via CNN, which is not identified as such.

If the media didn't align itself with the Democrat party, I wonder if the Democrats would ever win a national election. Of course, Rush Limbaugh observes that the media is actually leading the Democrat party around.

I finally remembered what the term was - "correlation of forces". Here's a snippet that I found on
https://noelmaurer.typepad.com/aab/2011/06/the-correlation-of-forces.html

"Back in the day, the Soviet Union used to have a concept called “the correlation of forces.” Briefly, this was a metric made up of everything that determined relative power: military might, economic power, public opinion, internal divisions, political allegiance, and diplomatic relations."

>If the media didn't align itself with the Democrat party, I wonder if the Democrats would ever win a national election.

That's a very fair question. I'm also forgetting the specifics of a quote, but there was a media guy who figured the media was worth +10 points to the Dems. Whatever the number, it's huge, hence the ferocity of rage towards Fox News for putting a dent in it.

Would the Dems ever win ANYTHING without them? Well, they still have [1] voter fraud to get them 98% turnout in the big cities [2] all the congressional districts they have already gerrymandered to oblivion, such as here in MA [3] the eternal promise of a welfare state, and open borders to ease the importation of a new electorate. Hence also the rage against Voter ID and a border wall.

Bonus comment: whenever Tyler posts about media bias, you can be sure the topic is Fox News, and not any of the 85 outlets it was designed to combat.

“The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards ...as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there's going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points."
— Newsweek's Evan Thomas on Inside Washington, July 10, 2004.

Of course, he backed off once his quote was notic d.

FOX news is the only cable news (or alphabet news) that is not alt-Left. If you happen to lean alt-Left this may not bother you or you may not even recognize it. This is a terrible thing for "news" or the media and it will in the end destroy the free press.

Wake up Democrats, your party has turned communist on you.

"Wake up Democrats, your party has turned communist on you."

No, they're regulatory socialists. Obviously you have some more straight up socialist policies in the likes of Bernie Sanders or AOC who want to socialize the health care sector. Still the party as a whole hasn't strongly pushed for direct control of the economy.

You're right about the communist claim. I think the Democrats are much closer to the Third Reich, where there was private ownership of companies, but no question that the boss was in Berlin.

#1 So not true. Those that prefer alternative media have long since moved on. NO ONE with high production values is to be trusted. If the person talking AT you is being paid - well, anything quite frankly - they are to be disregarded at once.

#2 Refer to #1 above. As far as I am concerned, media done for profit is from here on out bogus. For ever more. Done. Completas. Fox News. CNN. Buzzfeed, All of it. If it is financed through advertising, may it be damned to hell.

#3 Both are joined at the hip.

#4 "Is it possible to consolidate news ownership in a world with so many cable channels and so many news alternatives to cable?"

Is it possible to do so in a world where everyone has a cell phone? Is it possible to do so in a world where media institutions, with millions of man hours of expertise, can get it wrong compared to a 17 year old with a 4 megapixel camera in the right place at the right time who happens to have 2 brain cells to rub together? Come on. We're talking about medieval illuminators vs. the renaissance printing press. It's over.

#5 The written word is still fundamentally the "legal" word. The transcription still matters. There is literally 0% of my consumed content that is anything other than written anymore. I cross-check my sources. Deep-fakes and further video and photo manipulation will only exacerbate (with disastrous results) this problem. All "documentation" takes effort.

#6 "Political stances". Understanding this is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.

'There is literally 0% of my consumed content that is anything other than written anymore'

Why? Watching actual testimony as it occurs in real time is even better than a transcript. Or at least more illuminating when seeing how various people interpret what you saw and heard as it happened - assuming you trust your lying eyes and ears, of course.

Though if you think C-SPAN or congressional feeds are subject to deep fakes, then why believe anything you read on a screen either?

"Watching actual testimony as it occurs in real time is even better than a transcript"

clockwork_prior's testimony is credible and powerful. I felt the emotional rawness of his truth. He is a victim, and his story is one those in power too often don't want to hear. We should live in his truth. #BelievePrior

'clockwork_prior's testimony is credible and powerful.'

Apart from not actually having given any.

'I felt the emotional rawness of his truth.'

Which is the sort of commentary that illustrates 'seeing how various people interpret what you saw and heard as it happened.'

'He is a victim, and his story is one those in power too often don't want to hear.'

Who cares? This is just more easily ignored commentary.

'#BelievePrior'

Well, you certainly put EverExtruder in his place by pointing out how worthless the written word is when connected to anything that involves twitter.

I really don't honestly. That's why I said "cross-checked". The truth is out there, but it's fundamentally incumbent on the consumer to find it. This has always been the case sadly. People really do have quite a bit to gain by lying - blatantly. I like transcripts more because - in my opinion - they can be examined more slowly and therefore in my opinion more closely. They provide a natural pause.

Anonymous mentioned below the 24 hour news cycle. This is spot on and also responsible for much of this problem. The current news cycle prevents this "pause". Then it nukes the "pause", pisses on it, and buries it in soft English peat for 3 months.

People just "react" now. Television news and television "manipulation" are part of this problem.

'People really do have quite a bit to gain by lying - blatantly. I like transcripts more because - in my opinion - they can be examined more slowly and therefore in my opinion more closely.'

Sure, and everyone has their preferences. But how someone reacts - think Kavanaugh and his seemingly quite close relationship to beer or his early 80s calendars - is not going to be found in a transcript. (And I would not really trust a transcript that includes things like 'tears up,' for example).

Admittedly, providing a youtube link does not solve the deepfake aspect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOr808UXOgE

I don't mind having my own reaction to what is happening as it happens - thus not needing to care about the 24 news cycle in the least.

That people just react is not the problem - the problem is they don't bother to actually have their own reactions to something as it happens, and instead rely on other sources. And yes, editing a segment can certainly be considered less than a true primary source, even if the reason for the editing has nothing to do with slanting.

The "bad old days" was a much more diverse scene than just the big 3. Most major cities had 3-4 major papers and the local paper was strong too. On TV, local stations had comparatively larger viewership and was also locally owned in contrast to today's much more concentrated viewership. Can't forget radio.

Arguably consolidation has been going on since after WWII. They used to have AP and UPI competing against each other, now I think it's only AP. The mass media often get their news from the same "pool" reporter from AP.

This sentence, revised, is true: "A hypothetical monopolist controlling all three channels and interested in electoral influence would have enormous power over election outcomes [but only temporarily since barriers to entry in media cannot be that big, and people would migrate away from such a monopolist as they did with Myspace]"

Bonus trivia: Our Man in Havana is an amusing short novel by Graham Greene set in WWII Cuba with a clever twist. Vacuum cleaner classified parts!

Also that was a period when the News rooms of the Networks and the major papers was much more ideologically diverse. So, the viewers were far more likely to get well stated points of view from multiple angles.

There is the question of does entertainment add value and at the same time compromise tenets of intellectualism. Certainly, Fox News is entertaining, but it's almost disgusting, probably by design. On the other hand, MSNBC is also disgusting, but more intellectual. Thus, businesses are different, categorized, and what makes a good car salesman does not make a good news anchor. Look at La Croix, which has enjoyed the greatest increase in circulation, in France. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Croix#/media/File:Change_in_Newspaper_Circulation_in_France,_1999-2011.png

Hertoghe, a reporter who was fired by La Croix, accused the four major French newspapers—Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération and Ouest-France—in addition to La Croix, of biased reporting during the U.S. war in Iraq.

If I were a pollster, I would be looking at the Catholic vote. Neither CNN or the NYT even reported the differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanic Catholics in the election, which Clinton won...at least out West, handily. https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/04/06/new-data-suggest-clinton-not-trump-won-catholic-vote

To me, this is as shocking as when in 1971, Tel Quel, the journal, broke with the French Communist Party and declared its support for Maoism, though by 1976 they had reversed the position. In 1976, The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation agreed on a settlement of S.E.C. charges that the company had violated securities laws by paying at least $25 million secretly to foreign officials between 1968 and 1975. On Wednesday, Nov 17, 1976, Joyce Maynard writes in the NYT that "I was not concerned much with the taste of food..."That parties simply happened." Harold Schoenberg writes, "Experience has shown that it is necessary for some music lovers to build up their courage during intermissions."

Regarding “Murdoch owns a lot of media properties and most of them have political stances, and most of all tones, fairly different from that of Fox News.”

Yes, but he just sold most of those to Disney...

He didn't sell any of his news properties to Disney.

Tyler is way behind the times.

"I hate Fox News" or "Fuck Trump" are now perfectly acceptable as the entire content of an article, a paper or even a PhD thesis.

In fact "Fuck Trump" is immaculate and perfect in every way. Why would anyone want to waste braincells on anything else?

'In fact "Fuck Trump" is immaculate and perfect in every way. '

Putin knew Trump is more a 'golden shower' kind of guy. Kind of messy and very stinky but then again the White House is kind of messy and very stinky.

'In fact "Fuck Trump" is immaculate and perfect in every way.'

Apparently, Stormy Daniels disagrees.

But an appeals court apparently disagrees with Stormy Daniels says a headline I saw the other day.

That is a different "Fuck Trump"

Regression: TrumpRating ~ CNN + FOX + MSNBC

where TrumpRating:: 0..100,
CNN,FOX,MSNBC:: TV watching categorial variables, 6: >12 hrs,
5: 7-12 hrs, 4:3-6 hrs, 3:0-2 hrs, 2: None, 1: dont know

The effect size of watching FOX is statistically significant with a whooping +17.26 compare to that for CNN and MSNBC at -6.55 and -4.83 respectively. The Left does not know how to use TV effectively. Raw data from Georgetown Baker Center poll. Sample size 5106 with appropriate demographics.

-------
Coefficients:
Estimate Std. Error t value Pr(>|t|)
(Intercept) 16.4091 1.5792 10.391 <2e-16 ***
CNN -5.6582 0.5066 -11.170 <2e-16 ***
FOX 17.2615 0.3947 43.735 <2e-16 ***
MSNBC -4.8336 0.4851 -9.965 <2e-16 ***
---
Signif. codes: 0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1

Residual standard error: 31.66 on 5102 degrees of freedom
Multiple R-squared: 0.3008, Adjusted R-squared: 0.3004
F-statistic: 731.7 on 3 and 5102 DF, p-value: < 2.2e-16

Politically the effects of Twitter and Facebook are about neutral and statistically not significant. TrumpRating is negatively correalted with small effect size to the frequency use of Instantgram. The use of social media sites is fairly orthogonal with little overlap, effective data size without missing values are about 500 out of the 5400.

I'm amazed that CNN and MSNBC had such big effects given that the default news is already left liberal. Since there's no major news that's even vaguely right of center, then of course Fox should have a larger (absolute value) coefficient.

To be precise, the problem is not cable TV, it is the 24-hour news channels that cable has spawned. They are all bad, for the central reason that they are all lazy and all about reducing costs. That leads them to do shouting panels or droning pundits. That those panels or pundits can be polarizing or extreme makes things worse but it is not the root of the problem.

This is the news the invisible hand creates.

This is the lowest cost product for mass distribution.

(I find separating Fox from MSM pretty strange, it is just a flavor of MSM.)

"To be precise, the problem is not cable TV, it is the 24-hour news channels that cable has spawned. "

+1

To be clear about what I'm saying, the good thing about the old network news system was that they only let you have it for one hour each night, a couple more on Sundays.

The fairness doctrine helped, but the main thing was they weren't saturating your day. They had soap operas for that.

I thank god YouTube doesn't allow free 24-hour streaming of the domestic cable networks. All you can get are foreign news sources like Sky News, Russia Today in Al Jazeera. Being glued to that is more edifying and less toxic than watching Smirkgate and Trump tweet news all day, which could be made very easy if you two didn't crack down on realtime viewing of CNN, MSNBC and FOX.

And so my actionable advice would be to avoid all routine 24 hour cable news coverage. Maybe tune in for special events like hurricanes or Mars landings.

Get your news from internet aggregators which cut across silos.

https://www.memeorandum.com/m/

Yes. I dropped cable entirely about 10 years ago. Don't miss it.

I recall reading somewhere that cable news is like mainstreaming emotion. When I see it now, for example CNN in a waiting room somewhere, it usually comes across as clownish and ridiculous. At this point, their credibility is less than zero, I assume its bad data.

Last time I was at the doctor's office, there was a 24-hour news channel on (maybe Fox? don't remember), and I swear the blonde lady on TV was reading aloud tweets from ordinary people, on the subject of a celebrity's tweet that was itself about the celebrity's reaction to that very same show's previous day's tweets.

And then she encouraged viewers TO TWEET about these tweets about a celebrity's tweets about other tweets! Journalists are soooooooooo dumb.

It is sad to see that while the new Brazil shows a united front to the world, Americans are hopelessly divided and talk themselves to death. I thank President Captain Bolsonaro for his skilled leadership.

2. Do the authors have any argument that “the non-market objectives of media owners” are bad? No. In fact, there is a longstanding literature that “the market objectives of media owners” are bad, whether you agree or not. Do they really just mean to say “I don’t like Fox News”? Just say it. Don’t worry, I don’t think most authors, especially of media studies, are objective to begin with

RESPONSE: Anyone with a brain that can think doesn't like Fox News.

Don’t the results suggest we should perhaps be worried about polarized news rather than consolidated news ownership?

RESPONSE: Only a craven whore for oligopolists could write this [are you EVER ashamed of some of the stuff you write?]

Is it possible to consolidate news ownership in a world with so many cable channels and so many news alternatives to cable? I strongly doubt this, but in any case it is not something the authors have shown. Instead, they have shown that a renegade news channel can rise to a position of great political influence.

RESPONSE: FFS, Tyler, you've been to Australia. This statement is insulting.

By the way, Murdoch owns a lot of media properties and most of them have political stances, and most of all tones, fairly different from that of Fox News. Worth a ponder.

RESPONSE: Horseshit.

"Instead, they have shown that a renegade news channel can rise to a position of great political influence."

I really don't like the implication that Fox News is doing something right that other people should emulate. Having more selective and extreme news silos would make our politics worse.

Even if they would benefit investors (monopolists or not) tapping a market.

Fox is doing something right. They are a tad right, and NPR is a tad left, everyone else is way left. The part they are really doing right is keeping the new and opinion parts separate. Their news is decent and fairly unbiased (opinion is not), unlike MSNBC and CNN et al. Watch CNN news and it's like watching the left's version of Hannity.

Know your media, and don't applaud anyone in the bottom (red) quadrant, right or left.

https://www.adfontesmedia.com/the-chart-version-3-0-what-exactly-are-we-reading/

That's like the media version of the Hot/Crazy Chart used in deciding if someone is worth, uh, dating. Except it is way too lenient in assigning "mainstream" credibility

CNN is close to the middle and not in the red box. I call BS on that. They get caught over and over again.

"Fox is doing something right. They are a tad right, and NPR is a tad left, everyone else is way left. "

Here's a ranking based upon viewership. It's the only study I know of that's clearly divorced from any bias from the authors creating the ranking. Assuming most people tend to consume more of the source they most align with it should broadly create a True picture of the tilt of a given source.

https://goo.gl/images/NfVsqQ

Note: The study is from PEW Research in 2014.

CNN and MSBNC are about as far to the Left as Fox News is to the Right. The closest to center is The Wall Street Journal with a slight Left wing viewer tilt. The chart looks believable.

That's a funny way of inverting the chart, which is properly of *median* viewership ideology, and not any measure of channel content whatsoever.

"not any measure of channel content whatsoever"

Are you sure you belong on an Economics blog?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revealed_preference

From the article you quoted:

"Fox News's viewership is pretty moderate compared to the Hannitys, Limbaughs, Becks and Breitbarts. This is probably because Fox's audience is just so large that it couldn't be relegated to an extreme end of the chart. But even liberals watch Fox."

I bit of irony there, as since that piece Hannity has moved ..

(And Revealed Preference is very often bunk, for instance, Americans just *want* to be obese?)

Someone failed micro 101?

Preferences are ordinal.

They *prefer* to be obese compared to the alternative. Which in this case would be consuming fewer calories.

Revealed preferences are never “bunk.” You just don’t like the outcomes.

"They *prefer* to be obese compared to the alternative. Which in this case would be consuming fewer calories."

I'm pretty bored now, but I will pause to note that this is where "traditional economics" renders itself ridiculous, because it excludes the complexities of psychology.

This is why the behavioral revolution happened.

You’re still wrong.

You’re making a point about how why they prefer one (obesity) over the other (consuming fewer calories).

Revealed preferences still demonstrate the outcome.

You’re caught up in social desirability bias of what people say. You’re using psychology as a catchall to justify why stated preferences are different from actual preferences.

Revealed preferences *are* actual preferences. The end.

There is the issue here of akrasia or weakness of will....

"(And Revealed Preference is very often bunk, for instance, Americans just *want* to be obese?)"

I can see where the concept goes over your head.

American's say they want to be fit and eat right. But revealed preference (obesity) indicates they want to eat junk food and sit in front of the TV and/or computer screen.

@TC, or others who've read it, what's their *big* proof that Fox is causal? From quick skim my understanding is that channel position is random and causal on Fox news consumption, and then allows you to estimate opt in free "influence" from Fox. All of that seems questionable.

I suspect this is correlational again and not quite right.

Generally studies like this are partisan and want there to badly be a reason their opponents are programmed by bad news, rather than those bad news sources simply being a rally point for opposing cultural tendencies.

This is somewhat true for claims that the very strong left wing bias of all entertainment media (and it is all entertainment) and elite news has real, major political outcomes. As much as I find those more plausible, as those are talking all embracing and inescapable effects of the whole system, almost a soft analogue of totalitarian propaganda, while Fox is a corner case TV channel that you can easily opt of, and which most people do.

Tim Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo wrote the premier article on this effect.
https://academic.oup.com/qje/article-abstract/120/4/1191/1926642

After giving a very nice, relative definition of bias, Groseclose determined that if the media wasn't biased relative to the electorate, America would have the voting patterns of Texas.

Professor Groseclose wrote a book on it for the layman. Here, he gives a talk on it:
https://jmp.princeton.edu/events/left-turn-how-liberal-media-bias-distorts-american-mind

s/Groseclose determined/Groseclose and Milyo determined.

I only read the abstract but I don't think the methodology is sound. First, they appear to measure the electorate by looking at members of congress. If we assume the electorate is more moderate then the majority party in congress (A reasonable assumption because control tends to switch regularly) this will bias the author's view of the center. Second they measure political bias by looking at think tanks that are cited. If one party is more partisan it will make independent think tanks look more like they are partisan for the other side again this will shift the view of the center. In fact a party trying to appeal to the center will appear based on this methodology as more partisan as both parties will be citing moderate think tanks of the other party.

Murdoch knew there would be a large market for a highly partisan right wing news network, so he created it. But he and his network are trapped in an ever escalating partisan war, a war in which his network must feed the monster with increasing doses of propaganda to satisfy the partisan cravings of his viewers. I describe Fox News today as the fear network, as Murdoch has come to rely on fear and a constant stream of dire warnings of enemies at the gate, whether at the border or in the inner city or at the gate of the subdivision in the burbs. It's not surprising that seniors with dementia will watch Fox News non-stop. Politics as entertainment is nothing new. In the not too distant past it was the salacious in politics that would sell, but today the salacious is so common as to be dull, so Murdoch shifted to fear. It's been a highly successful strategy, because fear is the greatest motivator. The difference between the salacious and fear is that the former is merely low brow while the latter requires an enemy.

Whereas the highly partisan leftoid news network is supported with public money.

I was listening to an NPR "news/discussion" show yesterday, and thought about this. All three panelists were on the same (left) side of the topic, as was the host. Its like DNC Talking Points Radio. Its so predictably its almost funny.

While there might have been an argument for taxpayer funded broadcasting a generation or two back, there is certainly none today.

Or maybe the question is should we be more concerned with editorialization of news? And if so, should we insist that opinion content be more clearly designated as such?

+1, I could see some potential for positive reforms. As long as, the standards were politically unbiased and it didn't run afoul of the 1st Amendment.

"We're concerned about media consolidation, and accordingly we are nostalgic for the days of the big three networks" seems to reflect some cognitive dissonance.

Fox is the most widely viewed channel (not just news channel) on cable, with 2-3x the viewership of CNN. It seems odd to call it “alternative” and “renegade.”

That said, it also seems odd to accuse Fox of being driven by non-market motives when it has been so wildly successful in the marketplace.

In most industries, someone like Murdoch who owned multiple competing companies would seek to reduce competition among them, in order to maximize the value of his portfolio. Media is unusual in that competition between outlets increases total viewership and thus the overall value of Murdoch's holdings.

Again, the objection academics, most lawyers, and many other professional-managerial types offer is that elections can influence public policy. They consider themselves the school administration. Elected bodies are merely student councils. Any deviation from what is preferred in and among their circle of friends is to be enjoined by the courts. To limit the trouble which may emerge from competitive elections, it's important to craft election laws and administrative procedures congenial to vote fraud and which inhibit the opposition from organizing but have no effect on your organizing. A corollary to this is preventing the opposition from propagating its viewpoint. The measures here are broadcast regulation and various impediments placed by tech companies which are permitted to collude (e.g. shadowbanning). Where necessary, the deployment of thugs and rioters the local police never get around to arresting will be done.

Tyler seems oddly direct and sincere in this post. I had to double check it was him.

Do you have a ghostwriter now?

Trolling is a art

I predict over 100 butthurt comments

Good of you to start with #1

The irony....

Who knew that the Daily Mail had become so controversial here. Though possibly it was Sinclair Brodcasting Group?

Or was it pointing out that Fox News is not an alternative to the mainstream media approach, but precisely the same, as all are concerned with making a profit.

So not watching television (no cable, no satellite dish) for the past sixteen-plus years has made me apolitical?

True, I've not bothered voting over recent election cycles . . . . I wonder, though, whether I was supposed to have become apolitical in a certain direction, I may have missed the cues since I've not become a socialist.

I have to say that TC is really off on this one. Did anyone else see the compilation of news intros where all the anchors gave the same opening monologue across dozens of markets in the US?

https://theweek.com/speedreads/764546/watch-surreal-video-compilation-dozens-local-news-anchors-giving-exact-same-warning-about-fake-news

That is the reality of conglomeration.

Also, is TC really arguing that consolidation of political thought, which is what the media helps form in public opinion, is a good thing for voters?

Let's say that we treat media outlets as any other company. Are they monopolists? Monopsonists? The good produced by media in this field is public perception. If viewers are subject to a monopoly media, which only one producer is providing them news, then we have high profit margin via shoddy journalism coupled with sensationalism.

How anyone could argue that there aren't real implications to the conglomeration of media, and therefor public perception, is beyond me.

I feel like this paper is just arguing that propaganda can have an influence, which I'm pretty sure is a thing that we already knew.

Speaking of market concentration and political bias:

"
Microsoft Edge on mobile now includes a built-in fake news detector"

The Guardian = green; The Daily Mail = red; BuzzFeed = green;

https://techcrunch.com/2019/01/23/microsoft-edge-newsguard/

I'm curious to see how this plays out. If it's just another Fact Checker with an obvious bias, then it won't go anywhere. But there's a lot of potential if you convince 80% of the public that your on the level.

if you think prevalent Fact Checkers have obvious bias, you probably are not standing where you think you are.

There are plenty of examples. I'm going to restrict these to indisputable cases of Politifact bias where even they corrected their "mistakes". But in each case the correction was over a year later.

Ron Paul

Says the U.S. federal income tax rate was 0 percent until 1913.
— Ron Paul on Monday, January 16th, 2012 in a Republican presidential debate in South Carolina

Half True
https://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2012/jan/31/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-federal-income-tax-rate-was-0-percen/

"We did not even have a federal income tax in this country until 1913."
— Jim Webb on Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 in a web post

Mostly True
https://www.politifact.com/virginia/statements/2015/aug/24/jim-webb/jim-webb-says-us-didnt-have-income-taxes-until-191/

Note: They changed their rating to "Half True" a year and a half after the original ranking, because Rightwingers were using it as an example of obvious bias.

Politifact does that kind of bias all the time and when it gets too obvious they issue a correction. But corrections have to be timely to be relevant. Being wrong and correcting it with a few days is fine. Waiting years is just playing politics.

Here's another infamous example:

Under Barack Obama's health care proposal, "if you've got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it."
— Barack Obama on Tuesday, October 7th, 2008 in a debate in Nashville, Tenn.

True

Then after being ridiculed for years as obvious bias and after Obama has been re-elected, they suddenly do a U-Turn and admit the obvious:

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2008/oct/09/barack-obama/obamas-plan-expands-existing-system/

"Lie of the Year: 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it'"

Lie of the Year
https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2013/dec/12/lie-year-if-you-like-your-health-care-plan-keep-it/

Out of thousands of entries, you have a few hot buttons. Noted.

I'll take that to mean that I have a two example of obvious bias that you can't refute.

You are trolling rather than presenting the gold plated answer, which would be a statistical study of systematic bias.

That, and I did indeed keep my health insurance.

"You are trolling rather than presenting the gold plated answer, which would be a statistical study of systematic bias."

Providing actual examples is not "trolling". I suspect that you think evidence that is against your world view is some form of trolling. But it's not.

There are numerous studies that show quite clearly that Politifact gives Republican statements much harsher grades than Democratic statements:

"Further, the University of Minnesota School of Public Affairs looked at over than 500 PolitiFact stories from January 2010 through January 2011. Their conclusion:

Current and former Republican officeholders have been assigned substantially harsher grades by the news organization than their Democratic counterparts. In total, 74 of the 98 statements by political figures judged 'false' or 'pants on fire' over the last 13 months were given to Republicans, or 76 percent, compared to just 22 statements for Democrats (22 percent)."

http://editions.lib.umn.edu/smartpolitics/2011/02/10/selection-bias-politifact-rate/

Well obviously that's because Republicans are bigger liars.

Remember when you thought it was unfair that they said Trump lied more than Hillary?

If only you'd grabbed hold of reality then. With both hands.

"Well obviously that's because Republicans are bigger liars."

So you've gone with begging the question.

First side of paper:
FactCheckers: Party A lies. Party B does not lie.
Party A: We don't lie anymore than Side B. The FactCheckers are biased.
Party B: Yes Party A lies and the FactCheckers aren't biased.
flip paper over

Second side of paper:
FactCheckers: See our original statement.
flip paper over

Media consolidation has been a left-wing hobby horse for decades. See Manufacturing Consent, which has percolated through the left-wing echo chamber for 25 years. So what's happening here is a bunch of people trying to reconcile their hatred of FOX with their anchient gribe about media consolidation. Obviously Rupert Murdoch == Clear Channel, right?

For those of you who aren't old enough to remember, Clear Channel was the big media demon circa 1999, because they evilly bought up a lot of local radio stations and used them to *gasp* sell advertising.
In the wake of 9/11, many leftists were aghast that they instructed the disk jockeys to not play songs like "Give Peace a Chance". This was a clear indication that Clear Channel was in cahoots with the Project fora New American Century to brainwash Americans into supporting war. (Also it hinted at darker possibilities that PNAC and Clear Channel were secretly behind 9/11 itself. )

I am old enough to remember last April, yes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/02/business/media/sinclair-news-anchors-script.html

OMG. They're clearly in cahoots with the Democratic party to get people to hate Trump. They're probably owned by George Soros or something.

Libertarians have a funny relationship with words like "monopolist" and tend to circle the wagons. I think that's the main hot button for Tyler above, and a thread of your response.

But I ask you, setting aside a libertarian principle that monopolies must be good .. is it really good that dozens of news stations be given a "forced read" editorial on any political subject?

I mean, it is a bit of a mixing of the libertarian message. Are these stations and these monopolists all about the money, or are they mixing in a little power as influence?

I honestly don't see how it's either good or bad. The occurance of fake news is a topic of concern, worthy of news coverage and even editorializing. If Sinclair feels the need to deliver an editorial via the news stations it owns, then it is completely in it's rights to do so.

Also, isn't EVERYINE the news anchors read a "forced read" ? I mean, what do you think happens to news anchors that just decide not to read the script they have been given? Do you think they are free to just wing it and deliver the news however they want?

EVERYTHING

"I honestly don't see how it's either good or bad. The occurance of fake news is a topic of concern, worthy of news coverage and even editorializing. If Sinclair feels the need to deliver an editorial via the news stations it owns, then it is completely in it's rights to do so."

+1, the Rightwingers that are getting upset over this are silly. It was a minor service announcement that had the obvious corporate propaganda effect of implying that Our News is TRUE but you can't trust those Other Guys because they use FAKE News.

"Fair and Balanced"

Uuugh, Clear Channel/iHeart Media. How I hate them. They've been going around my state foisting digital billboards on everybody, against everyone's wishes.

Note that, in my town, in this effort they made no use of whatever radio station they may own. Instead, they latched onto a land-use fight unrelated to billboards, bankrolled a lunatic local gadfly-for-hire (she doesn't even live in our town, but somehow makes a living meddling in our affairs), who launched one of her petition drives, said petition making no mention of billboards, to somehow get digital billboards inserted into city code. This didn't work but was only a salvo.

Well, if we had strong anti-billboard rules, you might say, digital billboards wouldn't even be on the table.

Oh wait, we did! We passed some ordinance ensuring billboards would slowly go away through attrition as property changed hands or through acts of almighty God. But the billboard lobby got that overturned years ago.

Our DOT did, in a surprise move a couple years ago, disallow the 10-story high billboards with which these people were getting ready to bejewel our highways. It's the sort of thing Bubbas should like, though - probably these Bubba commissioners were just a little too old. I'm sure we'll get them yet.

AMERICA MUST BE WARNED OF THE DANGERS OF BILLBOARD CONSOLIDATION.

You jest, but our preoccupations never flatter us. At least, not in the last forty years.

It doesn't much matter what the big three networks reported, or what their slant was. People tuned in at night for a half-hour of news, period. The damage or good they could do was limited.

Since I only have rabbit ears, my exposure to Fox, MSNBC, etc. is limited to yearly visits to my parents' home, though fortunately last time I was there they seemed to have awakened from a trance state, vis-a-vis the TV; my father didn't turn it on (and no one else would ever do so, even had you wanted to - not worth getting yelled at for messing it up, there being a combination of a not-recent TV, two remotes, a caption-for-the-deaf setting, a Bose and so forth) except to watch sports. But perhaps that's because the threat of Hillary Clinton has subsided, or there were no boys awaiting rescue in a flooded cave.

There's no doubt in my mind that having "news" on all day long is making people dumber. Or at least making dumb people dumber.

I saw this collecting census data ten years ago. I followed up with people not competent enough to mail back the form that was sent to them.

With Bill O'Reilly on TV droning on in the background, countless people old enough to know better - people who should have been accustomed to the decennial routine - informed me that the census was illegitimate, and that they were not required to participate.

http://humanprogress.org/ and https://marginalrevolution.com are the best news sources today.

Fox News is the most profitable cable channel there is, I think it made it's owner $1B last year I heard about. I'd think the author of the study, if he wants to talk about non politically motivated eschewing of economic motives, should talk about something other than Fox News. Perhaps all the 'woke' movies that get made and invariably bomb at the box.

"We estimate that CNN, the channel with greatest media power according to our estimates, had the ability to move election results by more than 18 points in 2008."

So if this study were correct, then the Democrats are winning elections primarily because of CNN having a low channel number, because it is an older channel.

"We find that all three channels’ ratings-maximizing slant is quite centrist. CNN’s observed slant is close to this level. But Fox News is far to the right of the level that would generate the highest ratings: it is much closer to the level of slant that maximizes Republican vote share; and in 2008, it actually exceeds this point. MSNBC after 2006 is well to the left of the position that would generate the greatest ratings."

So, their conclusion is that if all 3 channels had exactly the same slant, their aggregate ratings would grow. But without a niche, why would someone pick one over the others. How would you sale to advertisers?

It doesn't matter. The public school system is consciously making people more ignorant and responsive like Pavlov's dogs.

It's a bizarre hypothetical setup to begin with. They actually believe that "without Fox News" in 2008, Obama's vote share increases by 6 percentage points (making nearly a 20-percentage-point popular vote landslide), but they don't hypothesize anything about what there might be in the place of Fox? I mean, what is Roger Ailes doing in this hypothetical world, twiddling his thumbs? Talk radio fills none of that void whatsoever? The conservative media are so un-resourceful if Ailes isn't around?

(I mean, yeah, 2008 was a rather unusual election year, with the financial crisis and McCain selecting a real doozy of a running mate, and so without Fox's influence it may well have been a popular vote blowout, but the hypothetical is still bizarre.)

Just as a tennis racket is rarely a murder weapon, Fox News is rarely news. It's not meant to be; it's meant to do whatever it takes to get ratings, truth and facts be damned. Klarman's quote seems appropriate: "As a society, we have never known more. But some of us choose to know less."

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