NewsBusters: Network news liberally applies ‘conservative’ label to presidential candidates

The conservative Media Research Center has compared network news coverage of presidential candidates this year to the same period four years ago and concluded that journalists described candidates as “conservative” in 2011 much more often than they labeled candidates “liberal” in 2007. The study found 62 uses of the “conservative” label on morning and evening news programs for the first six months of 2011, compared to just three uses of “liberal” four years ago. “It’s neither inaccurate nor impolite to describe this year’s GOP candidates as ‘conservative’ — most of them wear the label proudly,” writes Rich Noyes. “But if the networks are going to treat both sides fairly, they should have been just as ardent in pointing out the liberalism of the Democratic field that produced the most liberal President in American history.” (Is President Barack Obama really the most liberal president we’ve had? I’ll let the commenters duke it out.) || Related: What it pays to monitor the media

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  • Anonymous

    A useless link and an even more useless conversation.

    Is the press generally liberal?  Yes, but only because the issues involved in true journalism tend to line up with liberal philosophies.

    Are bankers generally conservative?  Yes, but only because the issues involved in financial policy tend to line up with conservative philosophies.

    Tell ya what — we can get rid of all the liberals in journalism when we get rid of all the conservatives in finance.

    And anyone who thinks Obama is the most liberal President ever just isn’t paying attention. Gerry frickin’ Ford was more liberal than the guy who embraced and even expanded every aspect of the Bush security state, handed monetary policy to the bankers and has put on the table the idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare without correspondent cuts in benefits or increases in taxes on the rich and their businesses.

    Romenesko, please avoid excerpting this kind of ridiculous “media criticism” in the future.

  • Anonymous

    Well, Biden is pretty smart, actually, even though he’s a rhetorical buffoon.

    And it’s not my say-so, it’s public record. It’s the things they say and do in public. When people constantly bray and lie and say horrible stuff and act like fools in public, you don’t need my “say so” to recognize that’s what they’re doing. Unless you insist on wearing ideological blinders.

  • Anonymous

    As long as you keep calling people “nuts, “crazies,” “bigoted” just on your say-so, I am not sure whom among the unconverted you hope to convert or hope to convince you have conservative leaninings. You want us to keep to the idea that Biden is marginal and just a harmless buffoon (although next in line to the presidency); funny how the Obama administration and the media always want to tell us he is a cherished and wise economic adviser and a steward over the stimulus package, watching every penny, not to mention our expert on Iraq policy, but–hey, ignore all those idiotic things he constantly says. Obama and the media continue to dissemble over the terrorist remark:

  • Anonymous

    > It’s neither inaccurate nor impolite to describe this year’s GOP
    candidates as ‘conservative’ — most of them wear the label proudly

    Spot on. The moniker only becomes poison, when the ideology is toxic.

  • Anonymous

    In the limited time I have to peruse those, I have to conclude that there’s some misrepresentation going on, because that’s what MRC does. But even so, it appears that the “liberal” protests were accurately described in every case. The bad behavior was documented in detail. You said window-breaking was described as “protesting strongly.” There’s no evidence of that in any of these examples, because it never happened. You didn’t say there were marginal differences in how one randomly chosen Tea Party protest was described and how another left-wing protest was described. Furthermore, the overarching point is that the crazies on the left are marginal, and marginalized. On the right — well, they *are* the right. Whether it’s actions or (far more often) just words.

    I’m not sure what point of view you think I’m steeped in. I’m a moderate, with some conservative leanings (which I’m increasingly embarrassed to reveal, lest I be lumped in with the Lunatic Majority). I never see or hear about Maxine Waters unless she’s saying something nutty (in other words, when she’s talking). Biden is constantly portrayed as the loudmouthed, buffoonish gaffe-machine that he is. But they’re both marginal politicians (yes, even though he’s VP), and there is only a handful of such people on the Democratic side (most Dems are ineffectual, fear-riddled wafflers, not Crazies). 

    Meanwhile, the bulk of the Republican leadership, and its rank-and-file, are nuts. Michele Bachmann may or may not be the Queen of Rage, but either way, she’s a bigoted, ignorant, backward, incendiary theocrat. I didn’t get that from the media, I got it from her own words and her own history.

    Bring me George Schultz or Cap Weinberger or Bob Dole and we can talk about serious, adult Republicans. For now, all we have are people who operate from whatever is being pumped through their limbic systems.

  • Anonymous

    “when an entire movement is dominated by crazies, as the conservative movement is at the moment (though it wasn’t always thus), I think it just kind of naturally happens that they are described as angry and outraged, since they’re always angry and outraged”

    Well, for starters, that shows how steeped you are in your point of view, as you are begging the question in the true sense of that term. Maxine Waters constantly strikes me as rageful and incoherent, and nobody seems to notice. Biden calls Republicans terrorists and gets a pass, or worse, is said to have denied it, when he never did fully deny it. Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann is called the Queen of Rage.

    Here are a few examples of the media’s classic habit of sniffing at the slightest hint of disorder at a conservative rally, while pulling out “mostly peaceful” when actual violence occurs at a liberal one.

  • Anonymous

    Do you have anything to back any of this up? Like, two or three news accounts of “liberals” breaking windows where they are identified as merely “protesting strongly?” Of course, when an entire movement is dominated by crazies, as the conservative movement is at the moment (though it wasn’t always thus), I think it just kind of naturally happens that they are described as angry and outraged, since they’re always angry and outraged. Furthermore, Democratic political leaders don’t represent liberal crazies the way Republican political leaders represent conservative crazies. You don’t see many Democratic congresspeople embracing Code Pink the way Republicans embrace the Tea Party. In fact, you hardly ever even hear about Code Pink or their like unless they’re throwing a pie or something. Right?

  • Anonymous

    Regardless of Romenesko’s gratuitous question at the end, there is no doubt that mainstream media people have carte blanche to lable people as conservatives, but just about the only liberals they identify by name are Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone, and they are both dead. Furthermore, conservatives are always angry and outraged, whereas liberals, even if they are trashing the WI capitol or breaking windows, are are merely protesting strongly. Just because liberals don’t like to be called liberals doesn’t mean the media need to play along.

  • Anonymous

    The word they should be grasping for is not “conservative” but “reactionary.”

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  • Anonymous

    “Conservative,” an honored old title for honorable politicians who don’t like radical change, is an undeserved compliment to the current crop of radical nutbags.

  • Anonymous

    The entire Republican campaign strategy is to lie frequently and repeatedly. Will Republicans ever be labeled as “liars”? We can only hope.

  • John Parker

    “Conservative” and “liberal” are shortcuts, sometimes forced upon reporters due to limited time/space to tell the news. Sometimes because it’s the easy way out. Try just telling the candidates’ positions, or their own descriptions of themselves. Let readers/listeners/viewers figure out what they are.

  • Anonymous

    I guess this is one example what I was talking about when I asked about non-Romenesko Romenesko posts. Links to *Newsbusters*? Really? Should we expect the observations of the folks over at World News Daily or The Daily Worker next?

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t news. This is the way it has always been. The mainstream news media is liberal.

    The difference is that liberals know through poll after poll, study after study, that it is deadly to be called or labeled a liberal. That’s the primary reason the word progressive is now used instead of liberal. Liberal politicians figured that out sometime in the late 90′s.

    The difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives don’t mind being called conservatives. Liberals, knowing the bad PR the word carries, only like to use the word in private conversations. When was the last time you heard a mainstream candidate say, “I’m a liberal and I am proud of it”. Never.

    Obama will campaign through next year and he will never refer to himself as liberal or say how proud he is to be a  liberal. He would be laughed out of office.

    The Republicans will all campaign by trying to do anything they can to be associated with conservative.

  • David Cay Johnston

    With one candidate in the Democratic party and a number of contenders for the GOP nomination the figures the Media Research Center promotes are not the least surprising.

    What is surprising is the slipshod use of the word “conservative” by journalists, as many of the positions staked out by politicians routinely labeled this way are not “conservative” at all. Journalists should look “conservative” up in both a modern dictionary and the invaluable OED.

  • Anonymous

    No question Obama is the most liberal president. Look at what he’s done in office: Instituted wage and price controls. Created an agency tasked with regulating the very materials that are emitted by factories. Engaged in an unprecedented outreach to Communists in China. Has been a strong and public proponent of equal rights for women, including equal pay for equal work. I could go on and on. Oh, sorry, that was all about Richard Nixon…nevamind…

  • Anonymous

    “the most liberal president..?”

    Yes, in core beliefs.

    In execution, no. FDR gets that title mostly because he never had the GOP win a House majority within two years of being elected.