The Source and Nature of the Media's Biases

Author: A.L.L.


American Life League

The statesman is an easy man,
He tells his lies by rote;
The journalist makes up his lies,
And takes you by the throat.

Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats, "The Old Stone Cross."

Anti-Life Philosophy.

The news media television, radio, magazines, and newspapers does an excellent job of reporting the news. It is unbiased and completely neutral on the issue of reproductive choice and gay rights and all of the other sensitive social issues of our time.

It also represents Christians and adherents of other religions in a fair and evenhanded manner.


We report news, not truth. There is no such thing as objectivity. Any reporter who tells you he's objective is lying to you.

                                                                    Syndicated columnist Linda Ellerbee.[1]

Our media generally represent themselves as intelligent, fair-minded individuals who always give us the news in a calm, dispassionate, and unprejudiced manner, allowing all sides of each issue equal consideration and air time.

However, even media representatives, in rare moments of off-camera honesty, acknowledge their biases, which run very deep indeed.

The only people who claim that the media is truly impartial are those who benefit from its not-so-subtle biases: Homosexuals, pro-abortionists, porn pushers, and pro-euthanasia activists. No knowledgeable Christian activist believes in the media's self-assumed veneer of fairness.

A Definition of "Media."

Television a medium. So called because it is neither rare nor well done.

                                                                         American comedian Ernie Kovacs.[2]

Who They Are. 

The "media" can be defined as that group of persons whose professions involve the use of communications to transmit ideas and information to a large number of people. This media may be scheduled on a regular basis (magazines and newspapers and programmed radio and television) or intermittently (motion pictures, books, and art exhibits).

Their Power. 

Needless to say, the media are the most influential group of individuals and corporations in the world relative to their numbers due to their control of communications networks. They are an elite, highly-paid professional force who manipulate public opinion on a vast scale.

In most Communist countries, the government uses the media as a tool to keep the masses ignorant, pacified, and compliant. The situation seems to be the reverse in the United States: The media as a body generally erodes confidence in the government with its constant attacks and ridicule of the administration, and is justifiably proud of its ability to motivate large numbers of people to take concrete action.

The Lichter-Rothman Study On Media Attitudes.

I think we are destroying the minds of America. And that's been one of my lifelong ambitions.

John Kricfalusi, producer-director of The Ren & Stimpy Show.[3]


In 1979 and 1980, veteran researchers S. Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman conducted hour-long interviews with 240 members of the most prestigious media establishments in the United States, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Time and Newsweek Magazines, U.S. News and World Report, all of the news departments at CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and all of the major public broadcasting stations.

Their studies included a complete cross-section of the professions at each corporation: Reporters, department and bureau heads, syndicated columnists, anchormen, producers, news executives, and correspondents.

Results of the Study. 

Figures 124-1 and 124-2 summarize the results of the Lichter-Rothman study.

Figure 124-1 summarizes the characteristics of the American television, movie, and media elite, and compares them with those of the general American public.

Figure 124-2 summarizes the attitudes of the American media elite regarding important social issues.

FIGURE 124-1

[A medium text size on your computer's 'view' setting is recommended, otherwise, the tables may be discombobulated.]

                              Television    Movie      Media     Average    General
Characteristic           Elite          Elite         Elite         Media       Public

General Demographics
   White                        99%           99%          95%             98%          61%
   Male                         98%           99%          79%             92%          49%
   From Northeast 
      corridor                  56%           58%          68%             61%         38%
   From metro-
      politan area             82%          81%          42%             68%          65%
   From "pro-
      fessional" family      42%           36%          40%             39%            6%
   College graduates      75%           63%          93%             77%          21%
   Postgraduate study    31%           24%          55%             37%            6%
   Personal income    $175,000    $185,000   $46,000     $135,000    $17,700
   Family income       $235,000    $275,000   $48,000     $186,000    $23,700

Political Outlook
      liberal                     75%           66%          54%             65%          27%
      moderate                11%          17%           27%             18%          41%
      conservative            14%          17%          19%              17%         32%

Religious Factors
   Agnostic or 
      atheist/none            31%           55%          50%              45%           9%
   Protestant                  12%           11%          20%             14%          56%
   Jewish                       38%           21%          14%              24%           2%
   Catholic                       5%             6%         12%                8%         28%
   Other                          7%             7%            4%               6%            2%
   Attends church 
      weekly                     7%             4%            8%               6%          42%
   Attend church 
      seldom/never          93%           88%          85%             89%          25%

Voting Record (presidential elections)
   Voted Democrat 
      in 1964                  80%           76%          94%             83%          61%
   Voted Democrat 
      in 1968                  82%           82%          87%             83%          43%
   Voted Democrat 
      in 1972                  72%           78%          81%             77%          38%
   Voted Democrat 
      in 1976                  49%           51%          81%             60%          50%

Reference: S. Robert Lichter, professor at George Washington University, and Stanley Rothman, professor at Smith College. A three-part series on the influence and attitudes of the media in society. National Federation for Decency Journal, August 1986 (television elite, pages 4 to 7); September 1986 (movie elite, pages 4 to 6); and October 1986 (media elite, pages 11 to 15). Reference for public voting and religious affiliations: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Reference Data Book and Guide to Sources, Statistical Abstract of the United States. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. 1990 (110th Edition), 991 pages. Table 417, "Vote Cast for President, By Political Parties: 1920 to 1988." Also Table 75, "Religious Preference, Church Membership and Attendance: 1957 to 1988."

FIGURE 124-2

                                       Strongly                                                       Strongly
                                        Agree             Agree           Disagree        Disagree

Abortion on demand should remain legal.
Television elite                    91%                 6%                     1%                 5%
Movie elite                         92%                 4%                     0%                 4%
Media elite                         79%               11%                     5%                 5%
Average media                     —     94%      —                       —        6%     —
General public                      —     51%      —                       —      49%     —

Adultery is acceptable.
Television elite                    19%               32%                   33%               16%
Movie elite                         19%               40%                   29%               13%
Media elite                         20%               34%                   32%               15%
Average media                    —      55%     —                      —       45%     —
General public                     —      30%     —                      —       70%     —

Homosexuality is acceptable.
Television elite                    49%               31%                   15%                 5%
Movie elite                         45%               24%                   21%                 7%
Media elite                         45%               31%                   16%                 9%
Average media                    —      75%     —                       —       25%     —
General public                     —      34%     —                       —       66%     —

Homosexuals should teach in public schools.
Television elite                    66%               20%                     9%                 6%
Movie elite                         64%               22%                     9%                 4%
Media elite                         54%               31%                   12%                 3%
Average media                    —       86%    —                       —       14%     —
General public                     —       27%    —                       —       73%     —

Reference: S. Robert Lichter, professor at George Washington University, and Stanley Rothman, professor at Smith College. A three-part series on the influence and attitudes of the media in society. National Federation for Decency Journal, August 1986 (television elite, pages 4 to 7); September 1986 (movie elite, pages 4 to 6); and October 1986 (media elite, pages 11 to 15).

Study Conclusions. 

Using the information they compiled, Lichter and Rothman drew several extremely important and informative conclusions regarding the American media elite. These conclusions are summarized below.

• The media elite are definitely not drawn from the mainstream of American 
   society. They are the children of privileged upbringings and social 
• According to television's creators, they are not 'in it' just for the money. 
   They also seek to move their audience toward their own vision of "the 
   good society."
• Of the television elite;
• 66% believe that television should promote social reform;
• 88% think that television is not critical of traditional and religious values;
• 70% think that there isn't too much sex on television; and
• 41% believe that there isn't too much violence on television.

Affirmation of the Lichter-Rothman Study.

Predictably, the Lichter-Rothman study was lambasted for studying too small a sample (240 persons) and for interviewing only those media elite who worked for large, nationally-based organizations.

In order to resolve the debate, the Los Angeles Times set out to check the study's conclusions. Its huge 1985 study of 3,000 journalists working across the country at 621 newspapers concluded that "Members of the press are predominantly liberal, considerably more liberal than the general public." Its conclusions coincided almost exactly with those of the Lichter-Rothman study.

In a second affirmation, the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company conducted a study entitled "American Values in the 80s: The Impact of Belief." The study was based upon 2,018 hour-long interviews of members of the public and 1,700 hour-long interviews of media leaders.[4]

The Connecticut Mutual Life study showed how out of step the media are compared to the general public on the two most critical life issues, abortion and homosexuality, as shown below.


                                                          Agree with Statement

                                                    Public                         Media
Abortion is immoral                        65%                            36%
Homosexuality is immoral                71%                           42%

Reference. The Connecticut Mutual Life study is described in Dave Farrell. "The Media is the Message." Human Life Review, Spring 1986, pages 45 to 55.

Results of the Second Study.

Lichter and Rothman conducted a second study in which they asked journalists whom they consulted when they were seeking expert advice in four areas regarding sensitive social issues. The results of this survey are as follows.


                                                         Expert(s) Consulted Were;

 Issue                                           Liberal                     Conservative
Welfare                                            75%                               22%
Consumer issues                               63%                               22%
The environment                               79%                               18%
Nuclear energy                                 77%                               20%

Reference. S. Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman, and Linda S. Lichter. The Media Elite: America's New Powerbrokers. New York: Hastings House Publishers, 1990.

In other words, Lichter and Rothman found that journalists simply consulted those persons whose views confirmed their own preformed opinions and attitudes.

Labeling: A Powerful Weapon.

Objectivity was invented by journalism schools. It has very little to do with real life.

                                                                           Talk show host Geraldo Rivera.[1]


Neoliberals wholeheartedly despise what they call labeling or 'pigeonholing' people. This practice, they say, conflicts with their notion that everyone is equal, no matter what their origin, personality, or lifestyle.

It is curious, therefore, that the demonstrably liberal media does not hesitate to attach labels to those whose value systems differ from its own.

The organization Media Watch used the Nexis news data retrieval system and a word-key search routine to pinpoint every mention of three Neoliberal and three conservative individuals and groups in 1987 and 1988 in The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time Magazines, and U.S. News and World Report.

The six individuals and groups studied performed parallel functions, so that the results of the study would be valid. The percentage of time they were labeled by the media is shown in Figure 124-3.

FIGURE 124-3

Conservative or Liberal Entity Percent of Time Labeled

Conservative women's group
   (Concerned Women for America)                41.0% ( 25 of 61 references)
Liberal women's group
   (National Organization for Women)                2.4% ( 10 of 421 references)
Conservative think tank
   (Heritage Foundation)                                  58.6% (217 of 370 references)
Liberal think tank (Brookings Institute)              1.4% ( 10 of 737 references)
Conservative judicial expert (Patrick
   McGuigan, Free Congress Foundation)        73.8% ( 31 of 42 references)
Liberal judicial expert (Ralph Neas,
   Leadership Conference on Civil Rights)          2.4% ( 3 of 125 references)
Total Instances of Ideological Labeling
   Conservative-type labeling                           57.7% (273 of 473 references)
   Liberal-type labeling                                      1.8% ( 23 of 1,283 references)

Typical Ideological Labels Used By the Media

Conservative                                    Liberal
New right                                        Mainstream
Archconservative                             Liberal
Strongly conservative                       Moderate
Ultraconservative                             Centrist
Fringe group
Extreme conservative
'Religious right'

In summary, the conservative individual and groups were labeled 32 times as often as the Neoliberal individual and groups. Overall, the Neoliberal entities were mentioned or quoted three times as much as the conservative entities.

It is interesting to note that the National Organization for Women (160,000 members), which is only one-fourth the size of Concerned Women for America (600,000 members), was quoted six times as often in news media reports.

References: Source and Nature of Media Biases.

Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge.

                                                                                American editor Erwin Knoll.[2]

[1] Linda Ellerbee and Geraldo Rivera, quoted in George Grant. "Media Bias and Abortion." Legacy, October 1991, page 1. Newsletter of Legacy Communications, Post Office Box 680365, Franklin, Tennessee 37068.

[2] Quotes are from Jonathon Green. The Cynic's Lexicon. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1984, 220 pages.

[3] John Kricfalusi, producer-director of The Ren & Stimpy Show, quoted in Stefan Kanfer. "Loonier Toon Tales." Time Magazine, April 13, 1992, page 79.

[4] The Connecticut Mutual Life study is described in Dave Farrell. "The Media is the Message." Human Life Review, Spring 1986, pages 45 to 55.

Further Reading: Source and Nature of Media Biases.

Accuracy in Academia Report and Accuracy in Media Report
These reports track the various excesses committed by Neoliberal academic institutions and by the liberal media. Order from the groups Accuracy in Academia and Accuracy in Media, both at 1275 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20005, telephone: (202) 371-6710, FAX (202) 371-9054.

American Family Association. Talk Back
Softcover. Order from the American Family Association, Post Office Drawer 2440, Tupelo, Mississippi 38803. This book shows how to get your opinion across to television advertisers and producers who seem to be totally indifferent to the Christian point of view. A strategy for fighting pornography and violence on television for both individuals and organizations, written by the AFA, which has many years of experience in this field.

Bacon's Publishing Company. Bacon's Media Alerts
Covers the publishers of more than 1,700 magazines and more than 200 major daily newspapers. Information provided includes the publication title, address, telephone number, names and titles of editors and advertising managers, dates and frequency of publications, criteria and lead time required for submitted material. Magazines are by market, newspapers are listed geographically. 900 pages, published annually in December by Bacon's Publishing Company, 332 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604, telephone: (312) 922-2400.

Bacon's Publishing Company. Bacon's Radio/TV Directory
Information on more than 10,000 radio and television stations, including college and public education radio and television stations. Information provided includes station call letters, frequency or channel number, target audience data, name, address, and telephone numbers, programs and times broadcast, network affiliation, and contact name. 950 pages, published annually in November by Bacon's Publishing Company, 332 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604, telephone: (312) 922-2400.

Greenhaven Press. The Mass Media: Opposing Viewpoints
Greenhaven Press Opposing Viewpoints Series, Post Office Box 289009, San Diego, California 92128-9009. 1988, 237 pages. Each section includes several essays by leading authorities on both sides of each issue. The questions asked are: "Are the Media Biased?;" "Should Government Regulate the Media?;" "What Influence Do the Media Have on Society?;" "How Do the Media Affect Politics?;" and "Is Advertising Harmful to Society?" Authors include Charles Krauthammer, Theodore Glasser, and the National Coalition on Television Violence. A catalog is available from the above address and can be obtained by calling 1-(800) 231-5163.

Rael Jean and Erich Isaac. The Coercive Utopians: Social Deception By America's Power Players
Regnery Gateway Publishers, 360 West Superior Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610-0890. 1983, 320 pages. This book exposes the real agenda and identities of what the authors call the "social elite:" The rich population controllers, banks, media moguls, and other institutions who appeal to American values but who are working to destroy them at the same time. The Isaacs describe who the elite are; where their money comes from; and what their true goals are. Addresses the environmentalists, the media, the Neoliberal think tanks, and the counterfeit peacemakers, among others.

David Lebedoff. The New Elite
New York: Franklin Watts Publishers, 1981. Reviewed by Paul Weyrich on page 6 of the August 12, 1982 issue of National Right to Life News. The nature, goals, and methods of the new anti-democratic elite are examined in this interesting book.

S. Robert Lichter, professor at George Washington University, and Stanley Rothman, professor at Smith College. 
A three-part series on the influence and attitudes of the media in society. National Federation for Decency Journal, August 1986 (television elite, pages 4 to 7); September 1986 (movie elite, pages 4 to 6); and October 1986 (media elite, pages 11 to 15).

S. Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman, and Linda S. Lichter. The Media Elite: America's New Powerbrokers
New York: Hastings House Publishers, 1990. 337 pages. Lichter and Rothman are the two researchers who caused turmoil in the media when they published their findings on the backgrounds and many biases of the media moguls in several areas. This book includes and elaborates on these studies, showing how the ingrained biases of journalists deeply affect their product and their objectivity.

Media Watch. 
This monthly newsletter reviews the manner in which the secular media covers current events, and gives examples of media bias. Subscribe by writing to Media Research Center, Publications Department, 113 South West Street, 2nd Floor, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. Telephone: (703) 683-9733.

Notable Quotations. 
A biweekly compendium of the most outrageous and humorous examples of bias by the secular news media. The last issue of the year presents the "Linda Ellerbee Awards" for the most extreme examples of bias shown during the year. Subscribe by writing to Media Research Center, Publications Department, 113 South West Street, 2nd Floor, Alexandria, Virginia 22314.

Oxbridge Communications. College Media Directory
Information on more than 5,000 college newspapers, magazines, and yearbooks on about 2,500 campuses nationwide. Data includes name of college, address and telephone number of college media outlet, the name of the student advisor, description of contents, trim size and method, frequency, circulation, budget and method of financing, and advertising and subscription rates. 300 pages, published every four years (latest edition in April of 1989) by Oxbridge Communications Inc., 150 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011, telephone: (212) 741-0231.

L. Brent Rozell III and Brent H. Baker (editors). And That's the Way It Is(n't): A Reference Guide to Media Bias.

TV, Etc. 
This monthly newsletter investigates the Neoliberal agenda that saturates the secular media, including the political activities of the radical Hollywood Left. Subscribe by writing to Media Research Center, Publications Department, 113 South West Street, 2nd Floor, Alexandria, Virginia 22314.

William A. Rusher. The Coming Battle for the Media: The Power of the Media Elite
Morrow Publishers, 1987. 228 pages. Reviewed by William Murchison on pages 49 to 51 of the May 27, 1988 issue of National Review. The author begins by outlining the deleterious effects of the monochromatic viewpoints the media foists off on American society, and then offers proof of the pervasive media bias. The balance of the book is devoted to a discussion of how the rank-and-file citizens of this country might alter the course the media have taken and force it to reflect a more realistic view of world events.

© American Life League BBS — 1-703-659-7111

This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by American Life League.