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Reporter insists the American Media Landscape Is ‘Tilted Against Biden’

by | Jan 31, 2024

By Tim Graham

When I’m interviewed about liberal tilt in the media, I’m usually pretty confident. But I can still be rattled for a moment when someone breaks out the silly old Eric Alterman argument – his book in 2003 was titled “What Liberal Media?”

When I appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal,” host Kimberly Adams read a passage to me from Eric Levitz at Vox.com. It hummed with that addled Alterman vibe: “Trump has a much better apparatus for maintaining the approval and enthusiasm of his party’s voters, and for seeding politically favorable narratives, than Biden does.” The subhead plainly claimed: “The US media landscape is tilted against Biden.”

In this alternative universe, “Fox News is more consistently propagandistic than MSNBC and boasts a 42 percent larger viewership. Right-wing talk radio dwarfs the influence of progressive alternatives.”

The idea that Fox is more “propagandistic” than MSNBC is mere opinion. But the idea that Trump has a larger messaging machine ignores the overwhelming power of the “legacy media,” the big brands. The evening newscasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC far outnumber Fox. In one weekly ratings period in January, ABC had 8.77 million viewers, NBC 7.34 million, and CBS 5.44 million. That’s about 21.5 million combined. The average primetime ratings number for Fox is 1.8 million. Their last Trump town-hall program with Sean Hannity gathered 3.2 million viewers.

As for the idea that conservative talk radio “dwarfs the influence of progressive alternatives,” that completely ignores National Public Radio, whose programming is distributed to more than 1,000 public radio stations across America. Their marketing website proclaims they have the number-one and number-two “drive time news/talk radio programs in America.” They claim a weekly audience of 44 million, and argue “84 percent of NPR listeners take action in response to something heard on NPR.”

But C-SPAN viewers didn’t hear the most hilarious Eric Levitz passages. He insists “there is a fundamental asymmetry in the media diets of Democrats and Republicans. The former tend to trust, and seek out information from, formally independent and nonpartisan news outlets, while the latter almost exclusively trust conservative opinion journalism such as that produced by Fox News and right-wing talk radio.”

This is the lamest dodge imaginable. “Our” outlets are “formally independent and nonpartisan,” which is about as persuasive as “Bill Clinton was formally monogamous.” Anyone who thinks MSNBC viewers want “formally independent TV” hasn’t noticed how they bellyache on social media when they let Republicans appear, or a host like Andrea Mitchell is deemed as insufficiently hyperpartisan.

Then there’s this gem: “And although the [New York] Times and [Washington] Post might subject Trump to withering scrutiny, they feel no obligation to boost Democrats’ political fortunes.” Stop, we all need to breathe between laughing fits!

Anyone who’s recently become familiar with the argumentation of Eric Levitz might start with his unintentionally humorous discourse on how people may have found headless babies after Hamas terrorists rampaged through Israel last October 7, but “the report established that babies were found headless, a fact that lends plausibility to claims of beheading, but which does not prove them.”

The “progressives” at Vox may envy Fox, and they may try to blame Biden’s cratering approval ratings on insufficient levels of propaganda from the “nonpartisan” media outlets they prefer. But it’s ridiculous to argue Donald Trump is receiving more positive and promotional press treatment than Biden in 2024.

Editor’s note. This appears at Newsbusters and reposted with permission.

Categories: Media Bias