Bias

by Russ Roberts on September 1, 2011

in Media

I’ve run a bunch of programs for small groups of journalists where we talk about economics or data and empirical work so I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time among journalists in casual situations. One thing journalists hate is being told that they’re biased. It infuriates them. It is a semi-reasonable reaction. Journalists respond by explaining that they are professionals. Of course, they admit, they have personal views about politics and ideology. But they would never let their views contaminate their reporting. That’s what being a professional is all about.

It’s a semi-reasonable reaction because most journalists that I’ve known ARE professionals. They do their job very well and objectivity is their credo. It is a huge part of the culture of journalism.

It’s a semi-unreasonable reaction because we’re all human, and bias–as I’ve learned in recent years the more I’ve thought about it–is often a subtle phenomenon. I’ve become extremely interested in confirmation bias, I’ve sensitized myself to my own biases, and that makes it easier to see how it works in others.

Megan Mcardle (HT: Arnold Kling) really gets at the root of the problem and the subtlety of bias in this post. Most of the time, the media isn’t sitting around conspiring among themselves. But many journalists do have biases and bias works in subtle ways affecting what journalists question and won’t they don’t question. The only point she misses is the role that bias plays in placing articles. You want to make the editor happy. You don’t sit around thinking what can I do to make the editor happy. That would be unprofessional and it would bother most journalists to think they’ve slanted a piece in ways that confirm the editor’s biases. But those incentives are at work even when most people aren’t thinking about them. Read all of Megan’s piece. I’m looking forward to checking out Tim Groseclose’s book that she mentions.

Read Megan’s post. It’s superb. It reminds me that we think we know is always as problematic as what we think we don’t know.

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{ 115 comments }

kyle8 September 1, 2011 at 7:01 am

Actually you are factually incorrect to say that they don’t sit around conspiring about how they will present their story. In fact we know from Journolist that the big left wing reporters do indeed pass around emails telling each other what the talking points for the day will be.

Russ Roberts September 1, 2011 at 7:27 am

That’s why I started that sentence with “most of the time.” I was thinking about Journolist and that wasn’t the point of the post.

GP Hanner September 1, 2011 at 11:01 am

And yet Journolist exist(ed).

The bottom line I got from McArdle was that “we don’t know what we don’t know.” True of every field of inquiry. My view, from a half century of observing journalists from varying vantage points, is that they do indeed report facts that comport with their gestalt.

Linda Seebach September 1, 2011 at 7:50 am

I was an editorial writer and columnist for nearly 15 years (at three different newspapers), and I think that people whose job it is to write opinion pieces are often better equipped to keep bias out of what they write (when they want to) because they know how to put it in. And to write persuasive editorials you need to know a lot about the opposing arguments, though it’s a tactical decision whether to rebut or ignore them in any given editorial. Being on a conservative editorial page on a newspaper where the newsroom is all-but-monolithically left also keeps you in touch with the idiotic things your liberal colleagues believe that ain’t so. And said colleagues are not at all hesitant to inform you of the equally idiotic things you believe that ain’t so either.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 7:52 am

So, not only do most journalists write rather poorly these days but they also don’t even know that they are severely biased. I can barely tell the difference between an op-ed and a regular article supposedly simply conveying the news except that the regular article annoyingly presents the opinion as fact. I’ve noticed that I’ve switched to reading more op-eds for their honesty and fewer other articles.

I don’t care that they’re biased, I just can’t stomach the lie that they aren’t. That they lie to themselves so boldly erodes the last speck of respect I have for most journalists.

Mesa Econoguy September 1, 2011 at 10:46 am

There is significant selection bias here.

In order to be a journalist, one must necessarily be gullible, and to varying degrees, stupid.

This lack of self-awareness and general cluelessness leads to blindness and inability to question and understand complex subjects such as economics, and emergent order and complexity.

So it is effectively a self-handicapped “profession.”

vidyohs September 1, 2011 at 11:57 am
Richard Stands September 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Thinking back to naïve days of my college experience, I find myself comparing the general intelligence and honest curiosity of communications majors to engineering, hard science, and mathematics majors – I find myself holding a bias about the capabilities of people in these groups.

Fortunately, exceptions sometimes arise as I get to know individuals. But those are still man-bites-dog.

Dan J September 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

The headline of each story, while meant to draw reader in, serves other purposes. The headline serves purpose of skewing your view before you have even read a single sentence and in my opinion, with left-leaning papers, the front page headlines serves as propaganda billboards for passerby’s.
AZ Republic, on a typical day, at least on front cover headline is of a sob story depicting the arduous plight of illegal aliens. Or, at least one headline of some GOP treachery (cutting welfare, parsing of statements, pulling back on some ‘free’ service, etc.,..). Yet, when there is a high speed chase of illegal aliens and their ‘coyote’ smuggler where someone has been harmed or of a person killed by an illegal alien with no license, police record, etc.,… The story is buried within. Now, this is the editors….. I no longer read the paper or it’s stories… I already know what the AZ Republic news is on a daily basis….. Same thing over and over…..

Mesa Econoguy September 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm

The Repugnant is a joke paper.

I saw a print copy the other day, and it keeps getting smaller and smaller.

So does its staff.

Underwriterguy September 1, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I have occasion to read the Phila. Enquirer, Boston Globe, various upstate NY papers, and I find the Republic favorable in comparison. Probably just me. I also like the WSJ 6 days a week and NYT’s on Sunday.

SheetWise September 2, 2011 at 2:37 am

There are some paper I read for news, like the Las Vegas Review-Journal (great paper) and the Financial Times — and there are some papers I scan for entertainment. I really enjoy getting the New York Times — because in many, many ways it really is a great newspaper. One of the NYTs failures is delivering news — but it has great general interest stories and very good puzzles.

nailheadtom September 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm

The New York Times’ wedding announcements are the best section of the paper.

SheetWise September 3, 2011 at 12:42 am

“The New York Times’ wedding announcements are the best section of the paper.”

I’ve never noticed them. Is the information strategic or humorous?

SheetWise September 2, 2011 at 2:27 am

I thought their official name was “the financially troubled Arizona Republic” — so you can guess where I get my news.

Frank33328 September 1, 2011 at 8:27 am

I tend to agree with Dr. Roberts’ point that most (or just many) journalists are honest but blind to their own bias. There does come a point when your ideology becomes such a certainty to you that you no longer see it as ideology but rather as fact. President Obama’s claim of being a pragmatist and not an ideologue screams of an ideology so thoroughly accepted that it has transcended (in his mind) from ideology to unquestionable fact and therefore cease to be an ideology. Reporters, including conservative ones, are no different.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 8:40 am

So, you’re just saying they’re not liars, they’re just stupid. My respect for them does not grow.

Frank33328 September 1, 2011 at 9:18 am

No quite. I am saying that they hold their views so deeply that in their minds they are facts beyond question. Somewhat like religious beliefs. I have met many very smart people that were religious or liberal (or both).

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 10:13 am

Oh, so like children, we can overlook their shortcomings because they know not what they do? You know, the CEOs of investment banks and Fannie and Freddie believed they deserved bailouts and so does Warren Buffoon. They’re adults and I hold them accountable for their actions.

Their job is to be unbiased. If they can’t recognize that they are naturally biased as human beings, then they are either exceptionally stupid or egotistical and they won’t (and obviously don’t) put forth any effort to counter their bias.

So, if professionalism is defined as not allowing your views to contaminate your reporting and they can’t even acknowledge that they have views, then there is no way for them to be professional and they’re not.

BTW, I don’t think Russ is saying they aren’t aware of their own biases. If they were, then journalists would not insist that they don’t allow their own views to contaminate their reporting. They argue that they understand they are biased and they think they are successful in cleansing their stories of bias. As a consumer of their product, I disagree. Strongly.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 10:20 am

But another point I get from Russ and the article is that it is impossible – even acknowledging one’s bias – to write with complete objectivity. The best journalists of any stripe can do is try their best to be as objective as possible. Knowing that they can’t be perfect in this, however, the onus falls upon the reader to take everything through a filter (though rarely does the reader even attempt to suspend their own bias).

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 10:33 am

Oh, I disagree that you can’t get past your bias. I’ve seen it done. Rarely, but it can happen. Only the very best journalists are capable of it. You know, the sort that don’t get promoted by the exceptionally biased organizations they work for.

the onus falls upon the reader to take everything through a filter (though rarely does the reader even attempt to suspend their own bias)

That’s not the point. If the onus falls on me as the reader, then let’s dispense with the myth of unbiased reporting and call each article an op-ed. As a reader, I’m under no obligation to be unbiased. Unbiased reporting is the lie I’m fed as the reader. Let’s just stop lying.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 10:51 am

I would love to read an example of completely unbiased reporting if you could furnish one (given that the subject is a matter of political contention). Yet you go on to say, “let’s dispense with the myth of unbiased reporting and call each article an op-ed”. Well, I agree up to a point. I think unbiased reporting is indeed a myth, but I think there is a distinction (however slim sometimes) between an op-ed piece which strives to persuade with bias, and a journalism piece which strives to be objective and unbiased. Neither may ultimately achieve their complete goal, but there is a spectrum of differences which I think is worth the effort.

Kirby September 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

People’s intelligence is not equally spread out across the spectrum. Albert Einstein was a socialist. Some people are just stupid, no matter how smart they are.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 11:21 am

SL,

Striving for something is not the same thing as achieving it. If, despite striving, you achieve something that is no different than an op-ed (minus the honesty), then let’s call it what it is.

Kirby,

I agree with that statement completely.

Frank33328 September 1, 2011 at 11:26 am

I don’t think anyone is willfully evil, which is what you are implying.
The world divides on opportunity costs. If you believe in them you tend to be liberal in the classic sense. If you don’t, then you tend to be a progressive (or liberal in the modern sense). Since opportunity cost as not an obvious concept, I think people deserve a bit more slack.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 11:34 am

I don’t think anyone is willfully evil, which is what you are implying.

Two things. I’m not implying that most journalists are willfully evil and I can’t agree that no one is willfully evil. You may not have met willfully evil people, but I can assure you that they exist.

I don’t know what being liberal or conservative or opportunity cost or cutting people slack has to do with anything I wrote in the post to which you’re responding. Maybe you can explain that.

Stephen A. Boyko September 1, 2011 at 11:39 am

Opinions in the absence of facts are biases. Simply short unsubstantiated statements.

For example, much like the spread of the bubonic plague that focused on the wrong agents of transmission, one-size-fits-all governance metrics erroneously focuses on Too-Big-To-Fail (TBTF) financial institutions’ scale rather than Too-Random-To-Regulate (TRTR) financial products. See “Randomness: Why it Matters, and What to do about it.” http://www.c4ads.org/sites/default/files/Boyko%20and%20Rappleye%20-%20Randomness.pdf The result, larger and more frequent economic crashes.

Michael September 1, 2011 at 11:47 am

No, Methinks, they aren’t like children and they aren’t, by necessity, stupid. McArdle’s point, and Roberts’ point, is that confirmation bias is both very strong and very subtle, and that she, Roberts, and journalists more generally, aren’t any more immune to it than you or I.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Michael,

In the post to which you are responding, I was not addressing what Russ was saying. I was addressing what Ken was saying. You may notice that I pointed out to Ken that I thought he misunderstood Russ.

Furthermore, I do not for one nano-second think that I’m unbiased. Unlike journalists, though, I don’t engage in the fiction that I am.

Economic Freedom September 2, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Regarding Mr. Buffoon’s call for the rich to pay more in taxes, I recently read that Berkshire Hathaway has been battling with the IRS regarding $1 billion in back taxes.

vidyohs September 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

T’ain’t no doubt that one can be honest, yet be horribly horribly wrong.

So how many brownie points do we give the honest liberal for unfailingly and unflinchingly promoting his liberal bias through clever manipulations of the word?

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 11:11 am

One less brownie point than you give the honest conservative for unfailingly and unflinchingly promoting his conservative bias through clever manipulations of the word.

Dan J September 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm

When a ‘journalist’ adds a statistic to the story, or the editor does, I am confident that the bias shows thru and in turn give the piece it’s just due, need for further review as it is biased.

vidyohs September 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I had assumed you had more than a glancing acquaintance with the socialist religion, the looney left, was I wrong? Do you really and thoroughly understand where following their scriptures will take this people and this nation?

So if I promote putting the gun down and not shooting myself in the foot anymore, and I do so unfailingly and unflinchingly, I only get one more brownie point then the idiot who promotes the foot shooting?

Amazing.

Dan J September 1, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I agree, the leftist is far more dishonest in approach and in attempts to deceive and parse.
Take Fox news………. The leftists use hundreds of millions of dollars highlighting the slightest error and will spend weeks on big one’s. This causes individuals to be more careful in their reporting and opinionated shows.
Whereas, MSNBC and the alphabet stations are rarely chastised by their peers, Daily Show, Media Matters (and other groups), Hollywood, etc.,…

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Vidyohs,

Anyone who unfailingly and unflinchingly promotes his bias through clever manipulations of the word (which I read as a conscious effort to mislead via intentional subterfuge) is guilty of the same offense no matter what their political philosophy, in my opinion.

I just give conservatives and libertarians who do such things more of a break because I happen to agree with their causes more often than not.

What I prefer is as much honesty and openness on a topic as possible, fairly acknowledging or stating the other side without “clever manipulations of the word”. I think Don and Russ, while not infallible, do a pretty good job of not neglecting or overstating the other side’s perspective. People like them get the most brownie points.

vidyohs September 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

@Saaaweet Liberty,

Down below on this thread I posted a link to the results of the looney left unfailingly and unflinchingly promoting the scripture of the socialist church. Do yourself a favor, clink the link and watch it.

Any clever manipulation of the word by any conservative or libertarian that works to eliminate that degree of plain shit worthlessness from the face of the Earth gets all my brownie points.

If you think I am expressing a personal bias against looney leftism, you are 100% percent correct.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Vidyohs,

I did watch a couple minutes of the video (about as much as I could stand). But picking one of the ignorant masses out of the herd is not a fair fight. The Ivy League college professors and “well-educated” pundits originate the rubbish that she spews – that’s where the real fight is.

vidyohs September 1, 2011 at 8:04 pm

“One of the ignorant masses out of the herd”?????

You missed the next most important part of that link, the comments.

I am sorry but she is not the exception, she may not be the rule, but that is one big f…ing herd!

Do what I did, subscribe to moveon.org and keep up with what the herd is talking about, what they want, what they dream of doing to you. You’ll understand that POS in tha link has many brothas and sistas of all colors. Remember, if you have money, they think they all have money because you’re just holding theirs till they come and get it.

J Storrs Hall September 1, 2011 at 9:06 am

I would guess that most journalists’ model of their own cognitive processes is about where cognitive science was in about 1950, before pretty much all modern research in AI and cog sci. In other words, they think that they are conscious of a lot more of their thought processes than they really are. So they can be as professional as they like consciously, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg — and the submerged part is where the deep biasses live.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 9:36 am

There is no question that confirmation bias exists for everyone, including all the supporters and detractors of Cafe Hayek. The real question is, can human beings discover a methodology by which the objective truth can be discerned? Is there any way, for example, to change Don or Russ’s mind to agree with Krugman, given that Krugman is indeed correct about his general economic assumptions? Or, given the opposite, is there any way for Krugman and his Keynesian followers to ever be persuaded that Don and Russ are generally correct? Both sides will sling facts at one another like irate monkeys slinging poo, but neither side will compromise their position knowing the other side is simply biased and can’t see the forest for the trees.

Until human beings discover a way to work together to reach the objective truth of a matter (when such truth exists beyond personal preference), subjects like politics and economics will remain mired in bias.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

What makes you think there’s always an objective truth? I believe strongly in individual liberty. Krugman believes strongly in servitude of the peasants to a political elite. What compromise exists there? What objective truth is there to uncover?

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

What you describe is subjective preference (which is itself an objective truth which is often ignored when two people debate). However, if the question is, which economic theories would lead our nation to greater prosperity for the majority of citizens in the long run, following those of Hayek or those of Keynes, I believe there is an objective truth to be discovered here. No system of government is going to meet everyone’s subjective preference, but in general, some systems of government work objectively better for national prosperity and the majority of citizens than do others. Yet, human beings still cannot reach a consensus as to what works best and what doesn’t.

Another good example is the debate over whether or not WWII was instrumental in ending the Great Depression. I believe there is an objective truth here – but economists from both sides use facts and arguments which are not persuasive to the other. This is an inherent flaw in human nature – our inability to separate bias from analysis and come to the truth of a matter.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 11:09 am

Yet, human beings still cannot reach a consensus as to what works best and what doesn’t.

You are surprised by this? Human beings don’t want what works best for “national prosperity” and “the majority of citizens”. They want what works best for them personally.

Robbing you to enrich Warren Buffoon works well for Buffoon, so he’s all for whatever policy is going to make that happen. Medicare recipients don’t give a damn if paying for their medicare impoverishes you. They only care that they don’t have to pay for things they want out of their own pocket and they’ll back whatever policy makes that happen. You, on the other hand, probably aren’t so keen to allow government to steal from you to enrich Buffoon and others who would like to hang themselves around your neck like an albatross. You want the objective truth? That’s the objective truth. So, what kind of consensus are you going to come to about what works best for people in general?

Want more objective truth? You are unlikely to work for the next dollar if you get to keep only 10% of it. But, that objective truth is dispensed with by people who want to tax you because you should pay that much. You should want to and you should have to. The world should be different than it is. People should not respond to incentives. We should have cosmic justice. These people live in a normative universe inside their heads. What objective truth can you expect them to recognize?

It’s a rare person who is even aware of what hellholes countries that engage in this kind of redistribution and servitude become.

You’re asking for empirical evidence? It’s all around you. Wherever Keynesian policies were tried, they failed. Everywhere human beings have been to allowed to come to their own private arrangements life is much better – unless you’re looking to be a mooch. You know, there was a time when being a mooch was seen as undignified, now it’s just (in the words of Jimmy Carter) “another way to live”.

Another good example is the debate over whether or not WWII was instrumental in ending the Great Depression. I believe there is an objective truth here – but economists from both sides use facts and arguments which are not persuasive to the other.

Ever try to persuade an idiot who simply can’t understand what you’re saying or someone who is incentivized not to be persuaded?

Yet, even a moron doesn’t want his house bombed in the name of economic prosperity. Most are vehemently against wars even though they argue wars are great for the economy. So, it seems that most of these economists understand that “wars only destroy” (as the song goes) and there’s something else going on there.

I have a great friend who is very smart and very logical. Yet, it all gets thrown out the window on these issues because he has certain moral beliefs, social identification and deep pockets of ignorance. When I lay out a logical argument with which he cannot disagree, he will inevitably open a little trap door of fallacy to escape through and refuse see it as fallacy. Typically, at this point, an urgent matter arises and he has to go immediately.

We are human beings. We are not coming to a broad consensus. We wouldn’t be humans if we could. The fight was on before you and I were born and it will continue until the end of time.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 11:54 am

I imagine your smart and logical friend could be having a similar discussion where he describes your failings to see the truth of his points in much the same manner. That you are so completely self-assured and inflexible in your positions on politics, economics, religion, etc., is no different than someone else who holds the opposite viewpoints just as adamantly (except of course that they are wrong and you are right). Your biases are just as concrete as theirs (and no doubt mine).

“Human beings don’t want what works best for “national prosperity” and “the majority of citizens”. They want what works best for them personally.”

Unless you are living as a self-sustaining hermit, a prosperous society that works best for the majority of citizens DOES personally benefit the individuals within that society. As we slip further and further into national bankruptcy, I think many are coming to the realization that without national prosperity, their individual prosperity diminishes rapidly.

I agree that the fight existed long before you and I were born, I just lament that without a way to reach the objective truth of what works and what doesn’t work economically, we are all going to sink in the same boat. I honestly hope like hell that you are wrong, along with Russ and Don and my own beliefs which generally concur. I hope our “smart” leaders like Obama and Bernanke really do know what the hell they are doing. Otherwise, we are all screwed.

Ken September 1, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Methinks,

I just want to point out that Warren Buffet is not a buffoon. He is a cunning, clever man using the full power of his political leverage to enrich himself. Calling him a buffoon softens what he really is, since saying he is a buffoon suggests he is a victim of circumstance and poor reasoning or just a good natured old man who happens to be rich, but lucky.

He is much more insidious than that. In fact he represents all that is wrong with the idea of “private-public” partnership. He knows it’s wrong. He knows his actions impoverish others to enrich himself. This makes him much much worse than a buffoon. Tar and feathers come to mind.

Regards,
Ken

vikingvista September 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm

It may be for clever reasons that he utters buffoonery like “I should be taxed more”, but if it quacks like a buffoon, you can call it a buffoon.

Ken September 1, 2011 at 12:11 pm

SL,

“I imagine your smart and logical friend could be having a similar discussion where he describes your failings to see the truth of his points in much the same manner. ”

And yet, you can’t point out what Methinks offered you ISN’T objectively true. It is objectively true that Warren Buffet is using the government to enrich himself while impoverishing taxpayers. It is objectively true that wars DO NOT stimulate an economy. It is objectively true that high marginal tax rates discourage working and producing more. It is objectively true that Keynesian policies are generally a failure.

You say that there “is no question that confirmation bias exists for everyone, including all the supporters and detractors of Cafe Hayek.” Well what are they? What is Paul Krugman objectively right about which Russ and Don or any of the commenters here disagree? What is muirgeo, Gil, Mao_Dung, etc objectively right about which Russ, Don, and the general Cafe Hayek commenter disagrees? Making random statements like this are meaningless unless you can back them up. The statement may even be true, objectively, yet you fail to prove it.

Regards,
Ken

vidyohs September 1, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Bias, ignorance, stupidity, gullibility, hate, lazy, there are more but you will know them as you watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUj-m6Gq_2Y&feature=player_embedded

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm

SL,

You’re correct about my friend. He cannot understand why can’t see that the Republican party is “trying to destroy this country” while the Democrats are trying to save it. Well, he can. If you hold his feet to the fire, he will admit that they’re working together on this project (told ya’ he’s smart). Doesn’t stop him repeating it the next time we talk. He also understands that he won’t work for the next dollar if enough of it is taxed away (he owns his own business, so he has that flexibility), but he thinks others will and, more importantly, should. Now, you decide for yourself what that is.

And, yes, I admit to being completely inflexible and self-assured in my objection to subjugating me to the state, holding a gun to my head and robbing me. I freely admit to my inflexible position on murder, theft and slavery. I’m against all of it and I’m an ideologue unwilling to compromise on these issues.

I should mention here yet again that I am not and never have denied that I am very much biased, so please stop pointing that out. I argue from a certain position. You are free to disagree with that position. Unlike journalists, I’m not engaging in the fantasy that I am able to ignore my personal views and present a completely unbiased picture. I think that’s what we’re talking about.

Dan J September 1, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Buffet knows that higher taxes levied won’t be collected from him, since the tax code is large with deductions and exemptions that only those attempting to enter his wealth stratosphere will be paying the higher taxes. A higher tax code keeps his wealth safe from competition.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Ken,

“Buffoon” is pretty close to “Buffet” and that’s why we chose it. We’ve been calling him a Buffoon for so long that we forget his legal name is “Buffet”. We call him several other things at home and in the office, but I’ll leave it to your imagination what those other things might be.

I am fascinated by how brazenly he treats what he considers the great unwashed as mindless peasants. He benefits from from the bailouts and then thanks the government for “saving the financial system” in an open letter. He’s openly mocking the suckers who pay taxes. Then, he whines in his super folksy way that he wants more taxes because it just ain’t fair that a rich guy like him must choose to reach into his own pocket to pay for his supposedly deeply held beliefs without the benefit of a gun held to everyone else’s head too. So sad. Of course, whaddaya know, he owns an insurance company whose products become much more valuable the higher the top marginal tax rate. What with higher taxes on the higher earners, they’ll be running to him to buy products to shelter their income. When Fox Business announced that Buffoon “saved America” by selflessly investing in BAC, my first question was “what deal did he cut?”. The Goldman deal was so sweet for him, I bet half his teeth fell out. I don’t expect him to sacrifice his fortune to bailout BAC, but I’m not going to swallow all that “unbiased” media horseshit either.

Like Lloyd Blankfein, Buffoon essentially says he’s doing God’s Work. Unlike Blankfein, he’s not kidding.

I admit it. Every time I see him, I have a strong urge to bitch slap him.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Ken,

“It is objectively true that wars DO NOT stimulate an economy. It is objectively true that high marginal tax rates discourage working and producing more. It is objectively true that Keynesian policies are generally a failure.”

NO! I happen to think these things are true, you think these things are true, but the majority of economists (at least the ones in power) do not agree – therefore, you haven’t proven to THEM that your position is objectively true. They come up with facts which dispute your take on the truth all the time, facts which you readily dismiss as easily as they dismiss yours. (See Krugman, Bernanke, Murgeo, etc. for their facts – I’m not about to try to make their case for them).

I’m sold. It’s not me you need to convince. The issue is how in hell do we convince the majority of economists that their understanding is fatally flawed when they have the ” truth” on their side just as much as you see it on yours? If Side A can’t acknowledge that their understanding is possibly flawed because they have evidence that supports their position, and Side B can’t acknowledge that their understanding is possibly flawed because they have evidence that supports their position, then we have an irreconcilable difference that can only be solved by divorce or war. I vote for divorce, but that’s not usually how it turns out.

SaulOhio September 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm

SweetLiberty: With freedom, we don’t NEED any consensus about what will work best. Everyone can try different ideas, different plans, and what works best will work. Other people will learn from such success, and those plans and ideas that do work will be adopted by more and more people. Its only when government imposes its own plan, overriding those of most everyone else, that we even need anything resembling a consensus.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm

then we have an irreconcilable difference that can only be solved by divorce or war.

What? I’m not married to “the majority of economists” or an idiot anything like Muirdiot, I don’t need to reconcile my differences with them or get a divorce. I don’t care if Krugnuts believes in fairies and aliens. Why do I need to convince any of them that they’re wrong?

As long as these people leave me be and stop trying to rob me, I couldn’t possibly care less what they think.

david nh September 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

“buffet” as in “smorgasbord”?

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm

SaulOhio,

You are more optimistic than I am. We tried freedom and liberty early in our history, and rather than see its widespread adoption and further refinement, we’ve seen its erosion. And even the limited government you desire requires that the majority come to your consensus. Otherwise, if the majority favors more socialistic policies, then the rest of us are simply along for the ride.

MeThinks,

But you ARE married to the country you live in and the political whims of its rulers and electorate in the sense that they make the rules which you must abide by or face the consequences. If your country is run based on the policies of the majority of economists or ” an idiot anything like Muirdiot”, you are correct, you don’t need to convince them that you are correct. That’s fine – what do they care – they’ve already won.

The only practical ways to see the freedom that you (and I) want is to 1) convince the majority that they are mistaken in the big government policies they advocate for, 2) wait for a state succession (which I equate to divorce) and choose to live in the state that offers the most freedoms, or 3) wage war with the statists if their minds cannot be changed and they stand in the way of those who demand freedom – much in the way this country was founded. Until one of these three options manifests, we are all on that bitter road to serfdom.

Ken September 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm

SL,

“you haven’t proven to THEM that your position is objectively true”

I understand better what you are saying now. Thanks for the clarification. We’re not arguing what is and is not objectively true, but how to convince others who refuse to believe despite the facts or are simply incapable of understanding. I really don’t know.

I can clearly explain some things, but not others. People seem to distrust logic for some reason. Even when they understand it, they refuse to believe it. For example, I explained to my brother the Monty Hall problem and why you should always switch doors, to which his response was “That’s true on paper, but not in real life.” To be honest with you, I am at a loss when I encounter the denial of mathematical and logical applications to real life.

Regards,
Ken

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

SL,

You seem to be under the mistaken impression that we live in a democracy where the majority can impose whatever sick new trick it wants on me. We live in a Republic that has a constitution which limits the power of government and the power of citizens to abuse each other. The constitution guarantees my right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. So, in theory, I don’t need to convince my attackers that robbing me is wrong. Supposedly, we already have a body of law and an expensive legal system to protect me.

If you’re saying we don’t, then we are living in tyranny. If we are already living in a tyranny and tyrannies are immune to logic and indifferent to the plight of the people.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Methinks,

Sadly, I think the Constitutional Republic that we are supposed to live under has been reduced to a de facto Democracy. Based on many of your many comments I think you agree and are being sarcastic.

But there is a distinction between democracy and tyranny – though they may reach the same ends in many cases. Democracies are supported by a willing majority, whereas powerful tyrannies can suppress the majority. I fear the former more than the latter.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 4:55 pm

SL,

You find more comfort in a tyranny of a majority? Why?

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Um, I think you read that wrong (or I didn’t express it well). I fear the tyranny of the majority (democracy) more than I fear the tyranny of a single dictator. Why? Because a dictator is an individual and can be taken out eventually. Against a willing socialist majority, you are fighting a philosophy of the masses, not just an individual. That, I fear, is what those who favor liberty over liberal democracy are up against at present.

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm

SL,

Nope. You did fine. I misread your comment.

We are, I think, facing a situation where increasingly the majority is living off a minority. This is, in the words of the liberal media, is unsustainable. Yet, the unbiased media is trying to convince everyone in its completely even handed way that not only n is this the way it’s supposed to be but that it’ll actually work. All the economists agree. To understand this, you need a Krugman approved PhD in economics (not that members of the media have one). If you mention that a parasitic society will collapse eventually, then you are obviously a science denier, objectively speaking.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

The parasites could easily live off the minority if only the rich bastards would pay their fair share! Only evil capitalist pigs would refuse to donate the majority of their wealth to The People. And don’t worry, if the system ever starts to collapse, the government and Fed will bail us out. Wow, you really don’t understand economics at all.

Economic Freedom September 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Is there any way, for example, to change Don or Russ’s mind to agree with Krugman
Yes. A lobotomy.

is there any way for Krugman and his Keynesian followers to ever be persuaded that Don and Russ are generally correct?
Yes. An epiphanic conversion to intellectual honesty.

John Galt September 1, 2011 at 9:52 am

“If you wish to make a man your enemy, tell him simply, ‘You are wrong.’ This method works every time.” — Henry C. Link

I want to like Megan (Who started out as “Jane Galt”) but she is just another cannibal who loves bloodshed and murder in the national interest, the complete opposite of Ayn Rand. In WWII less than 70 U.S. civilians died at Pearl Harbor, based on our subsequent ongoing rampage to avenge those few, we have lost the moral standing to use war offensively.

“A free nation—a nation that recognizes, respects and protects the individual rights of its citizens—has a right to its territorial integrity, its social system and its form of government. The government of such a nation is not the ruler, but the servant or agent of its citizens..Such a nation has a right to its sovereignty (derived from the rights of its citizens) and a right to demand that its sovereignty be respected by all other nations.” – Ayn Rand

The more dangerous bias – even among supposed libertarians, is the almost total lack of any living person who can can mentally separate the concept of a man and and the state in which he lives.

Megan joins the war on terror which is nothing more than an escalating case of national rabies. Why are we still in a frenzied murderous state of militarization to this very day, who is it we fear, Iran, give me a break?

China lost 15 million civilians in WWII. Somewhere among their 1.3 billion nominally militarized subjects I’ll hope there must be some men who understand that all men are not slaves of their state and are willing to fight for their dignity and freedom. There seems to be less than a dozen left here in America.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 10:14 am

“…I’ll hope there must be some men who understand that all men are not slaves of their state and are willing to fight for their dignity and freedom. There seems to be less than a dozen left here in America.”

Really? Less than a dozen? I suppose it depends on how you define “fight”. If you mean fight in terms of taking up arms against one’s government and physically attacking them, then you are probably correct – very few do that (and are imprisoned when they do like Timothy McVeigh). I doubt you are one of those few. However, if you mean fight in terms of expressing opinions which strive to push fellow citizens towards voting for reductive state measures with the goal of more dignity and freedom, then I read those opinions every day.

Kirby September 1, 2011 at 10:20 am

I stop sympathizing with any organization when they try to kill me. You’re forgetting that Pearl Harbor was an unprovoked surprise attack, and that there were 2,400 total dead US citizens. Also, the whole idea was that Japan was embracing imperialism, so we needed to stop them before they were strong enough to invade. Also, the 150-240k people killed by the Atomic Bombs means NOTHING compared to the 6 million military, 18 million civilian deaths that took place in the full war between the US and Japan.

John Galt September 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I believe America is the least worst mob rule the world has known, better than Japan. Even so, I reject the broken humans fallacy you and Megan are so enamored with.

You are not capitalists. You are disciples of the total war state religion.

Even after the quagmire of Iraq, now dropped to 5th from the bottom in capitalism ranking, she has still not stepped away from her neocon cheering of breaking the window of Saddam Husseins rule and the cornucopia of riches she thinks must still be around the corner.

For all the empty words about disliking the military industrial complex you work for this shiny electric hive and never see through the bias and realize you are largely drones and puppets of fascism’s fury, sturm, und drang.

Exactly why was I taxed to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraq’s civilians with U.S. sanctions, prosperity isn’t something you build with a battleplan.

Today you and her cheer the breaking of Gaddafi, tomorrow Assad and Ahmadinejad. Will there be no rest until everything is destroyed that doesn’t jibe with the disneyland-facaded meatgrinder world vision of the writers of the CIA Factbook?

Yours is the luncacy that says the death of 2300 hundred soldiers and 70 civilians must have an infinite unsatisfyable price. Capitalism should have a fixed known price for everything, especially including the loss of innocent lives.

Even the Talmud sees a place for minor collectivism to help the weak and protect the community. I am no anarchist. You surpass this simple common sense dictate and stampede us all towards a world dominion quite perverse and hideous.

It is only individually I have concluded that dropping the nukes on Japan because they wouldn’t relenquish their religious emperor was an act of barbarous evil. Truman did later in life. You are free to continue to write odes about the melting vaporized fathers mothers and children upon which you pave your road to serfdom progress.

To me you are no better than a South Seas savage who is enraged by a local killing by a rival tribe of another island. Professional Soldiers are in the business of killing, and once they sign up, in a sense they get only what they sought to give. You demand that I, my wife, and children also be drafted to be your soldiers, it is you who are the most dangerous savage of all.

Socialist and Islamic threats can only be mitigated and challenged through trade, commerce, and spontaneous order. It is already being demonstrated that christianity will fall to islam much like judaism fell to paganism and christianity. Chinese Socialistic Capitalism will overtake America in 2 or 3 years monetarily. The market is our best and only hope.

It is a miracle to be living during times of realization of the ancient dream of a life devoted to Torah study. The Internet is the Torah, and it is beyond any Rabbi’s imagination. This blessing is of the greatest value if one is free to pursue knowledge free of coercion, no matter how benevolent the coercers believe themselves to be.

I thank you for your time in reading my ramblings and appreciate your discovery of their errors.

Kirby September 1, 2011 at 4:55 pm

you IDIOT. Japan has NOTHING to do with Gadafi, Iraq, or anywhere else in the Middle East. Japan attacked us in a time of peace with no warning for imperialistic reasons. My obvious support for DEFENDING the nation means nothing in relation to my opinions on our aggressive middle-east wars.

Also, as for price: For every Japanese military death in which we attempted to repay their debt, two Americans or American-allied soldiers died. So technically, Japan owes us 2 million lives. As well as 16m civilians. Please abandon that line of reasoning before you start to come across as a bloodthirsty war mongerer.

Ken September 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Kirby,

Will you cite your source of the 2:1 death ratio for Americans:Japanese? That contradicts much of what I’ve read. For example, for every American death in the Battle of Okinawa, 10 Japs lost their life.

For total deaths in WWII, Japan lost 2,100,000 military lives with another 500,000 to 1,000,000 civilian deaths, whereas the US lost 416,800 military lives with 1,700 deaths.

Regards,
Ken

Kirby September 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm

I am using total casualties on both sides, which would include Filipino, Chinese, etc etc. Because the Pacific War was caused by Japan.

Kirby September 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm

It is not American:Japanese, but the total Allied/Axis casualties of the Pacific War that Japan caused.

kyle8 September 2, 2011 at 12:39 am

blah blah blah, If you would only state that you cannot support our modern foreign interventions, then I would be with you. But you are way off the deep end of the gene pool.

Extremists like you give libertarians a bad name.

John Galt September 2, 2011 at 11:22 am

I disagree. An identifiable subset of Japan’s military bombed a subset of America’s military on a base on the island of Hawaii. To defend the idea that every Japanese rice farmer and village merchant is a fair target is off the charts madness.

Hawaii itself can be claimed legitimately a part of America just as surely as East Germany was once a part of Russia.

I am not saying you are part of the following bias, but your conception of Japan being an individual who attacks America leads me to believe you are. You populate the same mob who decries illegal aliens are taking now taking our jobs.

Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups.

The true antidote to racism is liberty. Liberty means having a limited, constitutional government devoted to the protection of individual rights rather than group claims. Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence, not skin color, gender, or ethnicity.

It is utterly irrelevant to me that 70 years ago Americans occupying the island of Hawaii got a taste of their own medicine in their militarized colony. I see little superiority of the U.S. title upon the captured Kingdom of Hawaii and the failed claim by the Empire of Japan.

The only ethical move for the U.S. is to negoitate a withdrawal from Hawaii much as the British did from the coast of China.

Ken September 2, 2011 at 12:29 pm

John Clown,

“I am not saying you are part of the following bias, but your conception of Japan being an individual who attacks America leads me to believe you are.”

I have no problem saying that I am biased in favor of a freedom loving America vs. the militaristic tyranny of Japan. Are you a multiculturalist or cultural relativist that sees all cultures as being equal?

“Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism”

so by implication, you believe there is a pretty form of collectivism, right?

“It is utterly irrelevant to me that 70 years ago Americans occupying the island of Hawaii got a taste of their own medicine in their militarized colony.”

So by this logic, you would think that you got a taste of your own medicine if some Native American decided to massacre you and your family, right?

Regards,
Ken

Ken September 1, 2011 at 10:29 am

“In WWII less than 70 U.S. civilians died at Pearl Harbor”

Do the lives of military members not count, you puke? Would the attacks on 9/11 have been much less worse had the planes failed elsewhere, but properly targeted the Pentagon killing 3000 there? You’re a clown. Is it really your claim that unprovoked attacks are okay during peace time or at least much less worse if the majority of people left dead are military?

” based on our subsequent ongoing rampage to avenge those few, we have lost the moral standing to use war offensively.”

Wrong.

“There seems to be less than a dozen left here in America.”

See? You really are a clown.

Regards,
Ken

Michael September 1, 2011 at 11:44 am

” she is just another cannibal who loves bloodshed and murder in the national interest”

Use hyperbole much?

Dan J September 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Nice biased post….. Diminish the loss of lives at Pearl Harbor; Diminish the role of Japan in murderous rampage across the Pacific and into China; personal attacks.

Dan H September 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I could maybe understand why there was no necessity to go to war in Europe during WWI and WWII. I’ve thought long and hard about that one, and I’ve always sort of said “If Hitler were truly hell bent on global domination, he’d have only made it halfway across the Atlantic”.

But Japan targeted the US, attacked the US, and had subsequent plans for an invasion of the West Coast. Japan got what was coming to them.

I personally don’t like to think about war. It’s a terrible thing to think that young minds will never flourish and bloodlines cease because a few armchair warriors decide they must fight.

As for the idea that there is no one in China or elsewhere that is willing to take down their own oppressive governments, I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they “shrugged”. Those who would fight immigrated to the US as opposed to taking up arms (hence why you find so many “free market loving” immigrants, especially the Eastern European ones like my girlfriend).

david nh September 1, 2011 at 10:52 am

I’ve spent 25 years in the world of regulation, policy and advocacy. I’ve spent my life essentially reading, assessing, critiquing, drafting, responding to and deciding on many many arguments.

My view is that, while there may also be deeper elements of bias of which we can never be aware, there is plenty that most people could do to reduce the effect of bias on their work and thought. All is not lost.

One of things that experience like mine teaches is that it is usually possible to be craft a superficially attractive argument for both sides of an issue. Reading one side is thus rarely enough, particularly if you are not knowledgeable in the area being discussed. In situations in which you are not presented with both sides of an argument, it falls to you to test it yourself. Simply accepting that there may be a credible argument on the other side is an important first step.

Megan McArdle presents the failure to do this largely as a failure to seek out non-confirming facts or ideas, which she then partially excuses on the basis that none of us can know everything. I have found that even, in very technical areas, pure reason, common sense, an honest desire to understand, curiosity and imagination can take you a long way either to the right (or at least a better) answer or to guide you to the facts or questions that will lead you to that answer. The thing is you have to be a disciplined thinker, being willing to think for yourself, have some curiosity/imagination, insist on gaining your own understanding and be committed to seeking the truth. My experience is that very very few people, even among those with multiple graduate degrees, are willing or able to do that, particularly in areas in which there is even the slightest ambiguity. Some people just don’t know how to start bringing order to their thought. Most others are lazy, either morally or intellectually, and find it too convenient not to bother. Some are not actually interested in the truth but in furthering some other objective. In any case, the failure to ask the right questions is not simply the result of incomplete knowledge, but of deeper failings.

kyle8 September 2, 2011 at 12:41 am

It is not necessary that journalists be unbiased or pretend to be unbiased. It is only necessary that they be fair and truthful.

That is where they fail so often.

jorod September 1, 2011 at 10:53 am

Maybe they can explain this:

Chicago Tribune insinuates that Sarah Palin is a racist and leader of violent thugs…

“South Africa’s powerful youth leader to face ANC hearing”
By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
6:40 p.m. CDT, August 29, 2011

Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa— He’s been called “the black man who is rude about whites,” a South African Sarah Palin, a “dictator-in-waiting.” But even his critics will say this about Julius Malema: The leader of the ruling party’s youth league might be the most influential person in the country.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/la-fg-south-africa-malema-20110830,0,126566.story

Methinks1776 September 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Watcha mean? That’s the “subtle bias” that creeps in despite the journalist’s heroic efforts to avoid it!

Mark T September 1, 2011 at 10:54 am

That was a good post but I think the Groseclose post at Volokh was even better. Hers is rather general and his was quite specific and resonated with me much better.

In defense of journalists as workers, I would say that there are certain nonideological factors driving their biased reporting: 1) you have to publish something in a certain amount of time. You can’t just put “watch this space” in the paper while you research something to death; 2) often the bias of the journalist and the bias of the readers of said journalist are quite aligned – the echo chamber. This is more true now that readership is down overall. And it’s true, left or right. So there are business survival reasons why journalists keep feeding the same half truths to the biased readership. All of this just points out the importance of diversity of views and free speech.

jorod September 1, 2011 at 11:00 am

When they sight studies, it might be nice if they said who paid for the study and whether it was peer reviewed.

Kirby September 1, 2011 at 11:02 am

cite*

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 11:06 am

I think sometimes, depending upon who the “peers” are doing the reviewing, an article can end up with even more bias.

jorod September 1, 2011 at 11:01 am

Sorry,..should be cite, not sight…my seeing bias.

Invisible Backhand September 1, 2011 at 11:03 am

Sometimes things just happen at the same time. Like when Russ Roberts and Rush Limbaugh say the same day. Coincidence.

http://i.imgur.com/mDshm.png

Doc Merlin September 2, 2011 at 6:40 am

Russ, Rush? Similar names? Coincidence? I think not!

Pfft, anyway, I hope that Rush Limbaugh is listening to Russ more he’s an engaging writer/interviewer and chock full of interesting economic stuff.

vidyohs September 1, 2011 at 11:09 am

When you read Megan’s piece you have to be struck that she is addressing the issues of Conventional Wisdom and enculturation.

Only a rare few ever question the former, and only a rare few even know of the latter.

The most dangerous people in the world are the ones who don’t know that they don’t know, that they don’t know; and who are convinced that within them is the infinite repository of all correct knowledge and action and who can not be questioned. The debate was over for them around age one.

Seth September 1, 2011 at 11:09 am

I don’t find bias itself all that annoying.

What I find more annoying is the overconfident and condescending manner with which biased stories are told. It’s this overconfidence that gets in the way of productive exchanges.

McArdle provides a good example with her view on the Laffer curve. She likes to “educate” Republicans “who say that cutting tax rates raises revenue.” She could be right, but she substitutes confidence and condescension for persuasive and compelling argument.

Of course I could be wrong, but I don’t believe she has addressed the evidence of past periods, as Sowell often points out, where lowered tax rates were followed by rising and record tax revenues in the years that followed. It’s hard to tell, but she appears to think only in terms of the initial year when the rates are cut. Nor does she seem to consider that combined marginal rates of federal income, payroll, state and local taxes could be getting close to the bend or to the right of it.

My advice for journalists and Megan: be as biased as you want, but cut the condescension. Be more open to the idea that you might be wrong.

david nh September 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm

” What I find more annoying is the overconfident and condescending manner with which biased stories are told. It’s this overconfidence that gets in the way of productive exchanges.

McArdle provides a good example with her view on the Laffer curve.”

My thoughts exactly.

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm

“… be as biased as you want, but cut the condescension. Be more open to the idea that you might be wrong.”

I think this is all around good advice.

vikingvista September 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Taking offense at charges of bias is itself unprofessional as well as ignorant. You don’t see physicians taking offense that the trials that they participate in are blinded. Physicians understand that the presence of bias isn’t an option, no matter how conscientious the professional is. Bias is human.

Dealing with the ubiquitous unrecognized bias in oneself should be a central issue for the field of journalism. Omitting value statements and reporting only presumed facts isn’t sufficient, particularly with biases of omission. It helps for a journalist to try to condense a common denominator from as wide a spectrum of viewpoints as he can find (without regard to popularity or authority). But that requires an intellectual effort few journalists are interested in. And since they only need to satisfy the a conventional wisdom, there is little incentive to make that effort.

John Kannarr September 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

It is often distressing for me to read “news” articles in which blatant errors of fact appear, but even more so when the writer cannot even recognize that people with whom he disagrees could not possibly have any legitimate motivation for their views. In other words, the writer exhibits a failure to recognize that other people may operate according to principles and values different from his own, which those others think are better supported by reality and good will.

It often seems as though the writer could not even conceive of the possibility of those with opposing views being either correct, or benevolent.

At least McArdle recognizes that it’s “what we know that isn’t so” that is a major source of problems.

SaulOhio September 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm

This may be how bias works among most people, most of the time. But I very frequently run across people who still continue to claim that the recent housing bubble and financial crisis were caused by the free market, despite the fact that I have presented the whole litany of government regulations, programs and perverse incentives that ditrectly contributed to the whole mess. All these things are on public record, their scale compared to the size of the housing mortgage market is known. They do not have the excuse of ideological blindspots, since you have pointed out the facts which contradict their ideology to them. But they still insist that it was all the result of unregulated markets.

Megan Mcardle may be right about most journalists, most of the time, about most stories. But how many of them still believe this “blame free markets” garbage?

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

“how many of them still believe this “blame free markets” garbage?”

More than believe the “blame government and the Fed” argument, I would wager. And they would consider that position “garbage”.

SaulOhio September 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Yes, they would consider it garbage. But do they have anything to back it up with? Besides Glass Steagal?

SweetLiberty September 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Oh, I’m sure if you ask a well-educated liberal (or do some research yourself), you can find a ton of data and “facts” to back up their position. Again, that’s one of the frustrations I have. You have facts, they have facts, the facts disagree, but neither side will acknowledge the error of their ways.

I’m not sure what it would take to convince a liberal they are wrong, and they can’t imagine what it would take to convince a conservative (or libertarian) that we are wrong. Therein lies the problem.

Corey September 1, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I was shocked when this post from Fareed Zakaria showed up in my twitter feed about 3 weeks ago. http://twitter.com/#!/FareedZakaria/status/100997289820168192
Awareness of this bias growing I think.

J. W. September 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm

What’s so shocking about it? There is nothing new (at least, within the past decade) about the lament from the established media over the growing ability of people to access alternative sources of information and opinion. And there is nothing new about someone involved in journalism decrying the bias of the audience, which is what Zakaria is doing in that post.

Corey September 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I dunno. I guess this was the first time I had actually heard about it from an actual insider. Maybe I don’t consume enough political news as I should? I had always assumed from watching his show on a regular basis that Zakaria is extremely sympathetic to Liberal ideas and opinions. It really surprised me is all I’m saying.

J. W. September 1, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I apologize for not having been more clear. The way I read the post, he’s not referring to himself when he says “we.” He’s referring to consumers of media, not producers–the audience, not reporters and editors. He’s saying that consumers choose sources to confirm their prejudices. (This is supposed to explain why the supposedly bad sources are so successful: it’s not that they are better at reporting but because they make popular appeals through sensationalism and bias.) He’s not saying that reporters and editors choose sources to confirm their prejudices.

If you are suggesting that Zakaria’s post somehow suggests that he is *not* “extremely sympathetic to [l]iberal ideas and opinions,” I disagree. I’m not saying that he *is*, just that the post to which you linked is insufficient to suggest that he is not.

“Maybe I don’t consume enough political news as I should?”

The less the better, I say.

Jim September 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I have considered for years what Megan writes about. And I am sure it occurs in print, TV, universities, and wherever mostly Leftist folks gather to preach. And there is a cocoon phenomenon going on there that she does not mention.

Still I disagree with her. I thought the article was kind of naive. The Left is in a war. And as a journalist, if you do not know what side you are on, you truly are an idiot and will likely never get to print.

Especially these days when the two political sides are becoming more ideologically clear, it is kind of surprising to me that Megan views the NYT or the LAT as anything but a concerted full frontal assault.

I’ve seen Jane Galt bend over backwards like this more than once. You can bet the Left is never as accommodating, and would smear her to hell if she stopped showing her belly.

And yes, I am well aware of the rules of conduct for civilized Internet debate. But notice the folks who are winning always call for queensbury rules. If I am being too subtle, put this way; you won’t change the Left’s conventional wisdom until they’re convinced most people think it is stupid. For a much better example, read Heather McDonald at City Journal. She just recently exposed Mayor Bloomberg’s failed poverty policies by identifying the facts the Left ignores.

kyle8 September 2, 2011 at 12:46 am

The left loses whenever the light of truth can shine. So they endeavor to obfuscate and confuse at all times. That is why they once controled nearly every institution in this nation and now are losing the war.

Because of the rise of alternative media, internet, talk radio, and even Fox News and Fox Business News. They can no longer frame the debate, no longer pick who represents the other side, no longer out right lie and get away with it.

And they HATE IT!

vikingvista September 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Apparently not all reporters are part of the Borg:

http://tinyurl.com/3ht74nw

Corey September 1, 2011 at 5:00 pm

WOW. Every time NPR takes one of these centrist swerves it always throws me off. Doesn’t the average NPR listener just want Krugman articles rewritten with different words and served up in audio format? Or do they deserve more credit than I’m willing to give them?

Stone Glasgow September 1, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Impressive. He was clear that the storm was a loss of wealth, even with a constant pestering from the host to talk about how the destruction would stimulate the economy and make us better off in the end.

kyle8 September 2, 2011 at 12:49 am

He will be looking for a job by the end of the month.

Dan H September 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm

It’s pretty simple. Those who choose journalism as a major in college tend to be the more idealistic ones. They believe journalism is their “chance to make a difference”, and they are actually taught to live by a certain credo: comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. < yes, they are actually told this in their journalism ethics classes.

SheetWise September 2, 2011 at 3:22 am

I’m more interested in story and topic selection — and that’s where I see bias. As in the linked article, a reported is researching minority enrollment in college — and in my mind I’m wondering who cares, and why? I might be interested in enrollment from the standpoint of selection methods used, standards required, how the school was representing their product, and what guarantees they offered to students who passed their quality control — but why in the hell would anyone care about the ethnicity mix?

Sometimes I’m entertained simply by reading the headlines and trying to imagine what sort of people actually care about these things.

nailheadtom September 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Michael Crichton approached this issue from a slightly different angle: http://www.wbsi.org/ilfdigest/commentaries_mar_04.htm

SheetWise September 3, 2011 at 12:08 am

An excellent article — but I take particular exception with one piece …

“The Sunday morning talk shows are pure speculation. They have to be. Everybody knows there’s no news on Sunday.”

No. Hard news is covered on Sunday morning only to give news organizations cover. If a news bureau is accused of not covering the “real” news, they will point to their Sunday morning coverage as a balance to what was reported during the rest of the week. The reality is, speculatively, 40% of America is in church on Sunday morning, 20% is sleeping off a hangover, and those that aren’t political junkies are sleeping in for other reasons or have something else to do.

Why would news organizations (all of them) choose Sunday morning as the time to tackle the “really hard” news?

My guess is it’s an out. Real news is reported when reporters are fairly certain that nobody without an opinion is actually watching.

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