Yesterday’s Thoughts

December 16, 2006

Laughable?

What’s laughable about the Alicia Colon piece I blogged about yesterday?

The claim that The Drudge Report is a liberal site is laughable in general. How could you know anything at all about American politics and make this claim?

Here is her supporting evidence:

The propaganda of the enemedia — an excellent descriptive term coined by one poster to Lucianne.com — continues to sully news coverage, thanks to Mr. Drudge. A study of press bias by a professor of political science at the University of California-Los Angeles, Tim Groseclose, listed the Drudge Report as one of the most liberal sites on the Web because it consistently posts articles from left-of-center sources.

This Groseclose study seems to have received a lot of play from economists and other social scientists (although not enough to cause the authors to fix the broken html on the linked page). It’s obviously nonsense in absolute terms, the ACLU is reported as right of center by this study, and my citing of the New York Post’s here means I’m a conservative, but even if it weren’t, Colon’s citation of the findings are wrong and belie her first name (Alicia means truth, according to her). The Drudge Report is not one of the most liberal sites on the web according to the Groseclose study. It is the 14th most liberal out of the 20 sites that were surveyed. Truth would require Colon to say that the study listed the Drudge Report as one of the slightly more conservative media outlets.

The claim of this survey was that the media were more liberal than the average member of congress and according to this study there were only two media outlets that were more liberal that the average member of congress. Drudge’s collecting leads from all sites forces him to appear to be more liberal than it really is, according to the Groseclose formula. It’s not that it is “one of the most liberal sites on the Web because it consistently posts articles from left-of-center sources.” It’s that since according to this study almost all sources are liberal, Drudge has to score as a liberal on these measures. Drudge merely collects news, he doesn’t generate (very much) fresh reporting. If Drudge were merely a neutral aggregator his site would be at the middle of all the sites surveyed in this group, not 4 spots to the right of there. Given the relatively greater numbers of news stories that the liberal sources produce compared to the conservative sources produce (the top 3 most liberal are the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal and CBS Evening News, the top 3 most conservative are the Washington Times, Fox News Special Report and Newshour and Groseclose doesn’t give a breakdown on how many stories that the produced only the period of time over which they were followed) it must require a Herculean effort on Drudge’s part to select enough stories from the right side of the Groseclose scale to not fall into the center or even left side of the scale.

When you come down to it, you have to judge Drudge not on the sources he cites, but on the sources that cite him. That doesn’t leave any room for alleging that Drudge is a liberal.

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