From an Oct. 28 post by Rich Noyes, Research Director, Media Reserach Center:
Over the past four weeks, as the broadcast networks have covered the House leadership contest, reporters have gone out of their way to relentlessly paint House Republicans, especially the Freedom Caucus, as ideologues who are outside the American political mainstream.
From September 25 to October 23, MRC analysts reviewed all 82 ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news stories about Republican John Boehner’s resignation as House Speaker and the race to succeed him:
In these stories, MRC analysts documented how network reporters assigned 106 ideological labels to House Republicans — either to individual members of Congress, or groups within the GOP.
Overwhelmingly, the networks used “conservative” tags to talk about Republicans:
One-third of the conservative labels (35) painted the targets as somehow extreme: “far right,” “hardline,” “very conservative” or “ultra-conservative.” Such deliberate labeling is designed to stigmatize conservatives, casting them as outside-of-the-mainstream ideologues, as compared to their (usually unlabeled) adversaries.
The media’s repeated labeling of conservatives as outside-the-mainstream is something that liberals don’t have to face. There were no such labels of any House Democrats during the four weeks we reviewed, and a Nexis search of the network morning and evening news shows found only one American politician, Vermont socialist and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, has been called “far-left” this year.
Back on the April 30 edition of Good Morning America, ABC’s Jonathan Karl called Sanders a “73-year-old grandfather with that unruly white hair and far left political views….” And earlier this month, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell suggested Hillary Clinton “could go after him [Sanders] for being too far left to lead the party in the fall.”
Congressional Democrats and the White House were never referred to as “hardline” in their positions. Indeed, the closest thing to a reference to a “hardline” Democrat came back on May 6, when NBC’s Miguel Almaguer said on Today that Hillary Clinton was “drawing a hard line between herself and her Republican rivals” on the issue of illegal immigration.
And there have been absolutely no references this year to any “very liberal” or “ultra-liberal” Democratic politicians.
The slanted labeling of Republicans began almost as soon as Speaker of the House John Boehner announced his resignation:
According to its mission statement, the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives stands for “limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law.” While the group has clearly generated a debate among conservatives about specific political tactics, there’s nothing radical about the group’s obviously mainstream conservative positions.
Network reporters also assured audiences that, despite the misgivings of some conservatives, there is no reason to doubt newly elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s conservative credentials. On the October 9 Today show, NBC’s Willie Geist said Ryan was “highly respected among conservatives and Republicans on the Hill.” Then on the October 21 Evening News, CBS’s Cordes insisted Ryan “should be a conservative’s dream Speaker.”
The media’s one-sided use of labels to attempt to marginalize conservatives is well-documented. But it’s rarely been as egregious as it has during this past month, as network reporters uniformly cast conservatives as the cause of “chaos” in the House of Representatives.
1. What type of bias does Rich Noyes’ report illustrate?
2. Why do you think Republicans are described as ‘Far Right,’ ‘Hardline’ and ‘Ultra-Conservative’ but there have been absolutely no references this year in the media to any “very liberal” or “ultra-liberal” Democratic politicians?
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
1. Rich Noyes’ report illustrates bias by labeling and spin.
2. Opinion question. Answers vary.