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The Collective
Thursday, October 23, 2008
By Dr. Steven Taylor

James Joyner has an excellent post on the subject.

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Filed under: 2008 Campaign, The Press, US Politics | |
The views expressed in the comments are the sole responsibility of the person leaving those comments. They do not reflect the opinion of the author of PoliBlog, nor have they been vetted by the author.

5 Comments »

  1. So in concluding that the press is guilty of bias in all four cases (McCain, Palin, Biden, Obama) is he saying the bias vs. Palin is OK because she’s an unknown, and the others is not, because they are “known quanitites”? That’s how it came across to me.

    I also dispute Joyner’s comparison of Obama to Palin in, as both being thrust under the spotlight quickly and without time for preparation. Obama has been planning his presidential bid for a very long time; according to his book, he officially began looking into the idea with an exploratory committee on, I think, day 152 of his tenure in the Senate.

    He also had the benefit of being in a long and nasty primary campaign, which prepared him very well for the real thing. So saying that Obama’s campaign experience = Palin’s, that’s just a stupid thing to say. Obama has been on the trail for the better part of two years, and Palin for a couple of months. This is an apples-to-oranges comparison.

    I also don’t think it’s OK to dismiss gaffes and weird answers by Biden or anyone else simply because they are a “known quantity”. I wish the media would just report the information - not filter it according to metrics like this, this “known quanity” business. Just tell me what he said and let me decide what it means.

    Do they think we’re too stupid to do that?

    Reply to Captain D

    Comment by Captain D — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 10:14 am

  2. Of course, part of the point of Joyner’s is that clearly the media has reported these things, else how would know about them?

    And a key element of the post is the notion of “confirmation bias.”

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 10:20 am

  3. I do actually think he’s onto something with that. I’ll be honest and admit that I was not familiar with the term “confirmation bias” before reading Joyner’s post.

    Confirmation bias does explain a lot of media behavior in recent years. If we insert this concept into the psychology of the MSM in the context of a market-driven free press, it explains why bias can shift within the media from one side to the other over a period of time: reporting on candidate X as being unqualified yields an increase in sales; this gives positive reinforcement to reporting on X as unqualified; and the more we do it, the more we have to continue to do it in order to maintain our own sense of (self) legitimacy, as well as to maintain a consistent narrative that will make us legitimate in the eyes of the consumer. It’s less about ideology and more about maintaining a cogent narrative.

    I guess my question is - how widespread is “confirmation bias?” If “the press” is guilty of it on both candidates and their running mates, can we assume that they are guilty of it on all political candidates? What should we do about it? What are the implications of allowing it to pass?

    Reply to Captain D

    Comment by Captain D — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 10:32 am

  4. The biggest thing that James leaves out is that McCain is the GOP Candidate. Despite having cultivated a previous reputation as a maverick, he is basically campaigning for Bush’s third term (with some promises of some change, a la Bush I). This is the position that any candidate seeking the presidency is in, when his/her party is incumbent.

    As such, there’s a track record of the GOP for the past 7 years, and it’s a horrible track record. And in the past year, the upper middle and lower upper classes have been getting the sh*t kicked out of them - i.e., the upper management of the MSM. At this point, people have to scrounge deep in the dumpster of delusion to find any good points about the Bush administration.

    Given that, McCain had a serious problem - that his product sucked.

    Reply to Barry

    Comment by Barry — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

  5. Barry,

    I think this is absolutely correct.

    Indeed, I think that a lot of what Reps think of as a biased media is the simple face that the general environment in anti-Rep at the moment and that even fair reporting will seem biased.

    This is not to say that some reporters aren’t pro-Obama, they are. However, one balance the major problem is that the current President has a 30% approval rating and that doesn’t help the candidate from that party.

    Reply to Dr. Steven Taylor

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, October 23, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

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