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By Gary D. Halbert
June 1, 2004


1.  New Poll Shows Media’s Liberal Slant.

2.  Some Obvious Examples Of Bias.

3.  More Subtle Ways The Media Distorts.

4.  Those “Mean Spirited Conservatives.”

5.  Why Liberal Bias Is A Bad Thing.


Though they adamantly deny it, most of us know the media – and particularly the national press - has a definite liberal bias. A new poll by The Pew Research Center confirms that far more journalists are liberal than conservative. This is reflected in their frenzy to make sure George W. Bush is not re-elected, no matter what it takes.

While much of the media’s liberal bias is pretty obvious, some is much more subtle, as I will discuss below.  The bottom line is, much of the news we receive is definitely slanted in the liberal media’s attempt to tell us how to think and to change our opinions to match their own. Now, isn’t that special?

As recent examples, think about the obsessive coverage given by the networks of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the constant barrage of negative-only news from Iraq and the media’s innate ability to always find a dark cloud behind every piece of good economic news. The liberal bias is obvious to many of us, but unfortunately many in the public believe what they see and hear.

New Polling Data

A recent poll by the well-respected Pew Research Center was conducted between March 10 and April 20 and was based on interviews with 547 national and local news reporters, producers, editors and executives across the country.  The survey asked media reporters to describe themselves as “liberal,” “moderate” or “conservative.”  

Now before we look at the numbers, I must tell you that the term “liberal” has been largely shunned by the media for the last several years. For the most part, only those on the far left admit to being liberals. The rest of the liberal crowd has chosen to call themselves “moderates” so as to mask their true leanings and avoid criticism by conservatives and others.  Simply put, when you hear the word moderate, think liberal when it comes to the media.  

Here are the latest Pew survey results of the media versus that of the general public:















Surprised? You shouldn’t be.   Over one-third (34%) of the national media admits to being liberal.  That’s up from 22% in a similar survey nine years ago. 88% are either liberal or moderate, and remember that moderate has become the new code word for liberal.  Only 7% describe themselves as being conservative. 34% liberal to only 7% conservative - that’s nearly a 5 to 1 ratio!

The general public, on the other hand is 33% conservative and 41% moderate (74% total). Many in the general public consider the term moderate in its traditional meaning – neutral or fair – as opposed to its cooption by the national media in recent years.

Another interesting finding of the poll was the responses they received when they asked about the press’ treatment of President Bush.  A whopping 55% of the national press believes the media has NOT been critical enough of the president, while only 8% of the national media believes they have been TOO critical of the president. This compares with 34% of the general public who believe the press has been too critical of the president.

What planet are these people from? Don’t they watch their own broadcasts or read their stories?

The latest Pew survey on the media has a lot more interesting data in it.  You can look for yourself on their website by clicking here.

There are those who argue that there are plenty of conservatives in the media, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, William Saphire, Peggy Noonan, etc. The difference is they all admit they are conservative – it’s a well-known fact. They don’t pretend to be non-partisan, or neutral like many members of the mainstream press do. If you listen to Rush, you clearly know the information you’re getting is from the conservative point of view. He doesn’t pretend to be otherwise. The same goes for most newspaper editorials; you know it’s someone’s opinion; and you generally know whether the writer is liberal or conservative.

Obvious Examples of Bias

There are many, many examples of the liberal bias that are pretty obvious.  Just watch the three major networks’ evening newscasts (ABC, NBC, CBS).  Their motto seems to be the same: “All Negative Iraq News – All the Time.”  

Rend Rahim, the Representative of the Iraqi Governing Council to the US, recently said about the Iraq coverage in the US, “the reality is nothing like what you see on television.”  She said the U.S. coverage was “extraordinarily one-sided.”

When was the last time you saw a report about the good things happening in Iraq?  It’s not that there is a lack of good news from Iraq. In fact, there are literally hundreds of press releases detailing the significant progress being made in Iraq, but the press is too busy rehashing stories of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison and pushing their liberal anti-Bush agenda. If there’s a vehicle on fire anywhere in Iraq, you’ll see pictures of it on the national evening news. Why do a positive story when they can focus on the negative, especially with an election coming up?

If you aren’t aware of the many good things going on in Iraq, check out the Coalition Provisional Authority website and then go to the “Press Room” section, and then to “New releases.” You’ll be amazed at all the positive things happening in Iraq, things the liberal press doesn’t want you to know about.

Another excellent source for information on the liberal media bias is the Media Research Center website. This is one of my favorite websites, and I receive their daily e-mail alerts on media bias.

During roughly the same time period as the Pew media survey (March 23 through April 15), MRC’s analysts reviewed all interview segments on the three network morning shows (ABC, NBC and CBS).  Amazingly, during that period, the three shows conducted 20 interviews with relatives of 9/11 victims who were critics of President Bush, and only 3 who were pro-Bush.   Neither ABC nor CBS featured ANY interviews with pro-Bush 9/11 relatives! If the lopsidedness of 20 anti-Bush versus 3 pro-Bush interviews doesn’t convince you of the liberal bias, I don’t know what will.

Like a well-trained hunting dog, the press seems to have a sixth-sense when it comes to sniffing out anti-Bush critics and putting them on the air.  Whether it be at a Young Republicans convention in Omaha, or a busy market in Baghdad, if there’s someone who has something negative to say about Bush, you can be assured, they’ll find them and give them plenty of air time to tell everyone else why they should hate Bush. In our diverse culture, it’s not hard to find somebody that’s against anything.  However, to present these people as being representative of the much larger general public group is simply wrong. Yet they do it shamelessly every day.  

Recently, a British journalist, Toby Harnden, a reporter for the London Daily Telegraph, recounted a conversation he had at a Baghdad hotel with an American journalist. He said:

The other day, while taking a break by the Al-Hamra Hotel pool…I was accosted by an American magazine journalist of serious accomplishment and impeccable liberal credentials…She came to the point. Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be.  ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’

You think her reporting from Iraq is going to be fair and balanced? Not hardly!  And this is just one example.

The extensive coverage almost to the point of obsession the press has given to the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal is another example.  They rarely put it into perspective – only a handful of the 130,000 + American troops over there were involved.  This hardly seems to matter though. Remember Nicholas Berg, the American who was brutally beheaded? The press covered the story for a day or two, then quickly switched back to the more “shocking” stories of Iraqi prisoners forced to pose naked or otherwise humiliated.

In fact, as of May 27th, the New York Times had the Iraqi prison scandal on their front page 28 days in a row!  So far, they have done over 50 front-page articles on this story alone. While the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was detestable, and those involved should be punished, I do not believe this story deserved 50 front-page articles in the NY Times.

On May 26th, when the Justice Department announced the increased risk of terrorist strikes in the US, and asked for help from the media in their attempt to apprehend seven suspected al Qaeda members here in the US, almost all other media outlets had this as one of their top stories.  Guess where the NY Times put the article? On page 16, although they did have room to put their 50th story about the prison scandal on the front page!

The Los Angeles Times isn’t much better. They have had the prison scandal on their front page over 42 times!  Does this story really merit that type of coverage?

It’s amazing too how the press can always turn a positive story into a negative one. For months, as the economy was recovering, they constantly reminded us that it was a “jobless recovery.”  However, in the last two months when job growth was very strong, they changed their spin and started reporting that most of the new jobs were low-paying positions, or that the strong recovery would cause the Fed to raise interest rates, and that would threaten future growth.

As reported by the Media Research Center, when NBC News reported that the economy grew at a rate of 4.2% in the first quarter, Tom Brokaw warned, ‘but there are also growing fears tonight that the good news may have a dark side.” Reporter Anne Thompson then went on to warn about the potential for interest rate hikes and inflation.  They always seem intent on trying to convince us that the half-full glass is actually half-empty.

The Not so Obvious Bias

Sometimes, the press is a little more discrete with their liberal bias. Take for example Time Magazine, which often has an anti-Bush slant.  In their May 10 issue, they ran a piece by Charles Krauthammer entitled “Where Presidents Have No Power – Don’t give them credit (or blame) for the economy – it’s beyond their control.  Basically, it said presidents have little control over the economy – good or bad.  Funny how they decided to run that piece now, when the economy is on the road to a solid recovery, and Bush was starting to get some credit for this.  I don’t remember seeing anything like that when the economy was floundering, and Bush was taking all the blame for it. 

It’s also interesting that they ran the article with the election coming up. After all, most people vote with their pocketbook.  History has generally shown that most incumbents get re-elected when the economy is good.   After all, it was President Clinton who made famous the line, “It’s the economy stupid.”  Might the timing of the article have been to convince people that, even if the economy is good when you cast your vote, Bush has nothing to do with it, so don’t cast your vote for Bush because of the rebounding economy? (Read: Vote for John Kerry)

A couple of weeks later, the Time Magazine cover story was “Moment of Truth – Does the President who led us into Iraq know how to lead us out? George W. Bush’s re-election hinges on the answer.” Really?  Did Time Magazine decide this, and now they’re telling us how we should decide on whom to vote for?  Funny, how now, with all the negative news coming out of Iraq, they are telling us we should vote based on what happens in Iraq. (Read: Vote for John Kerry).

Putting two and two together, one would have to conclude that Time is trying to convince us NOT to vote based on the economy, since President Bush has little to do with the strong economic recovery we are now experiencing. Instead, we should vote based on how things are going in Iraq, which they have been trying to convince us is pretty much a disaster. 

Those “Mean Spirited” Conservatives

You’ve probably also noticed whenever anything negative is said by conservatives about John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Richard Clarke or the other liberal media darlings, it is almost always described as “mean-spirited,” from the “Republican attack machine” or “divisive,” a word frequently used to describe conservatives, but rarely used to describe liberals.

Just think about how many times have you heard the press refer to Bush as divisive. Isn’t John Kerry divisive, too? What about all the negative attacks on Bush during the Democratic primary – weren’t they divisive? In the eyes of the media elite, liberals are not divisive, there don’t seem to be any  “mean-spirited Democrats” and there is certainly no “Democratic attack machine.” Funny how that works…

Finally, when someone questions John Kerry for his protests of the Vietnam war, reporters say they’re “attacking his patriotism.”   Not so when someone questions Bush’s service in the National Guard. It’s clearly a double-standard.

Why Does this Matter?

The impact of this liberal bias should not be underestimated.  With the upcoming elections, this bias definitely has the ability to sway the results of an election, especially the presidential election that is expected to be close. In addition, it seems to me that at least some of the press is laying aside even the illusion of objectivity and blatantly attacking President Bush.

Another thing you can bet on is that al Qaeda and other terrorists groups are monitoring what’s reported in our media. You can imagine how elated they must be when they watch our newscasts and see all the negative things being reported about the war in Iraq.  They know every time there’s a car bomb, especially if Americans die, the press will focus on it, and it will make President Bush look bad. There’s probably nothing they would like to see more than George Bush’s defeat.  After all, they changed the election results in Spain. Why not try the US, too?

Now I’m certainly not advocating a news media that only reports on pro-Bush news. If you have read this E-Letter for long, you know that I have been critical of Bush on several different issues. Yet we need a fair media that presents both sides of the story – positive and negative.  I believe it’s called “journalism.” After all, I think we’re all smart enough to make up our own minds, without the media telling us how we should think, and how we should decide whom to vote for.  

The only major television media outlet that does a fair job in my opinion is Fox News. Funny thing though, in the Pew survey, when the journalists were asked if any news organization was “especially conservative,” 69% of the respondents cited Fox News. One of the things about Fox News is that they usually give both sides of the story.  And for this they are branded as being conservatively biased. I guess when you’re used to doling out the constant barrage of anti-Bush news, anything that is actually “fair” will seem to liberals to be “conservative”.


The new poll by The Pew Research Center confirms that far more journalists are liberal than conservative. 34% now admit to being liberal, up from 22% nine years ago.  88% are either liberal or moderate, and as discussed above, moderate has become a code-word for liberal in recent years. Only 7% of the national media is conservative, as compared to 33% of the general public. No wonder the media is out of touch!

The liberal bias explains the media frenzy to make sure George W. Bush is not re-elected, whatever it takes. Even so, 55% of the national media believe they have not been critical enough of Bush. So, expect things to get even worse as the election approaches.

While some of the liberal bias in the media is pretty obvious, much of it is more subtle and harder to detect – especially by Americans who are not savvy politically. The bottom line is the news you receive is definitely slanted by the press in a concerted effort to change opinions to their point of view.

I encourage you to visit the Media Research Center at regularly. They do an outstanding job of pointing out the liberal bias of the major news networks on a daily basis. I have included links to the two latest MRC articles below.

I also recommend that you visit another good website, Accuracy In Media, at  They also do a great job of pointing out biases in the media. I have linked the most recent AIM article for you below.

If you visit these websites, you’ll be surprised at just how blatant the bias is. Unfortunately, too many Americans believe what they see and hear on the national news programs and in the major newspapers.

Very best regards,

Gary D. Halbert


USA Today editorial on liberal bias in the media.

Media Research Center’s latest alerts:

June 1 alert

May 28 alert

May 24 alert

Interesting article from Accuracy In Media.

Gore goes bonkers!

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Forecasts & Trends E-Letter is published by Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. Gary D. Halbert is the president and CEO of Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. and is the editor of this publication. Information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Opinions and recommendations herein generally reflect the judgement of Gary D. Halbert (or another named author) and may change at any time without written notice. Market opinions contained herein are intended as general observations and are not intended as specific investment advice. Readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. This electronic newsletter does not constitute an offer of sale of any securities. Gary D. Halbert, Halbert Wealth Management, Inc., and its affiliated companies, its officers, directors and/or employees may or may not have investments in markets or programs mentioned herein. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Reprinting for family or friends is allowed with proper credit. However, republishing (written or electronically) in its entirety or through the use of extensive quotes is prohibited without prior written consent.

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