- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (February 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781250002761
- ISBN-13: 978-1250002761
- ASIN: 1250002761
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 71 customer reviews
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- #899 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Ideologies & Doctrines > Conservatism & Liberalism
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Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind Paperback – February 28, 2012
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“With knowledge there is victory and power. This book helps Americans learn the truth and discover how we are being manipulated by the mainstream media. It is hard to understate how brilliant and insightful Left Turn is. It is, I believe, one of the most important books ever written about American politics.” ―Congressman Paul Broun, M.D. (R-Ga.)
“I'm no conservative, but I loved Left Turn. Tim Groseclose has written the best kind of book: one that is firmly anchored in rigorous academic research, but is still so much fun to read that it is hard to put down. Liberals will not like the conclusions of this book, which in my opinion, is all the more reason why they should want to read it.” ―Steven Levitt, Professor of Economics, University of Chicago, and co-author of Freakonomics.
“This book--an evolution from the pioneering article in the 2005 Quarterly Journal of Economics by Groseclose and Jeffrey Milyo--uses a clever statistical technique to construct an objective measure of conservative or liberal bias in news coverage. This method and those now adopted by other serious researchers show clearly that most U.S. news outlets lean left. Most frighteningly, we learn that the media bias actually affects the ways that people think and vote.” ―Robert Barro, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution.
“This book serves up the most convincing evidence for media bias I have seen, ever. Tim Groseclose is the leading academic scholar in the area, but this is a smartly-written book which every person can read for enlightenment and also for pleasure.” ―Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics, George Mason University, and co-author of the internationally acclaimed economics blog, MarginalRevolution.com.
“In writing this book Professor Groseclose has done a great service for our country.” ―Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.), (Lt. Col. U.S. Army, ret.)
About the Author
TIM GROSECLOSE is the Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics at UCLA. He has joint appointments in the political science and economics departments. He has held previous faculty appointments at Caltech, Stanford University, Ohio State University, Harvard University, and Carnegie Mellon University
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The author makes his case in stages and for the most part with scientific rigor. Let me review.
1) Individuals in the "media" are overwhelmingly more liberal than conservative. This seems statistically quite convincing.
2) Despite factual accuracy, a reporter's political bias can distort an article just be selectively paying more attention to certain facts. This seems logical.
3) This selective reporting does occur and is quantifiable in specific instances. The author uses reporting on the Bush tax cuts as the example. There are 2 factual statements, one favoring conservatives "The Bush tax cuts makes taxes more progressive." and one favoring liberals "The Bush tax cuts disproportionately favors the wealthy." The vast majority of media outlets reported the liberal-favoring statement. While convincing in this particular case, how much you can generalize from this is uncertain.
4) Media bias can influence elections. The author supports this with data from studies and experiments and makes a convincing case that biased media influences elections, ironically primarily with Fox News.
5) And finally that without Liberal Media bias that the average voter would be much more conservative. This is the part that I find very unconvincing. His evidence is extrapolation from extrapolation.
It would be very interesting to study how much of an effect media bias has on voters, but while the author makes a convincing case that an effect probably exists, I remain unconvinced that media bias could drag the average PQ of the country from 31 to 50. I base this on a few observations. People naturally seek information that reinforces their own beliefs. Just as a liberal watching Fox News dismisses it as biased, so would a conservative watching a similar liberal media outlet. If the author is correct, then without liberal bias, the average republican would be to the right of Jim De Mint, and I don't find that convincing.
While I certainly cannot argue with his data, I don't know how accurate the assumptions are.
-If Congress and its politics are directly analogous to the voters, and Congress always votes according to political beliefs, then the PQ scale is probably accurate.
-If an entire news channel or newspaper can be accurately judged on its reporting of a single issue, then perhaps the Slant Quotient has some validity.
-If voters are so easily influenced that a conservative can be turned into a moderate merely by exposure to liberal media, then the conclusions of this book are valid.
I do find his last claim to be especially speculative and simplistic. Just how much can voters be budged by media bias? The most convincing data is Fox News giving Bush almost a percentage point in their market areas. How that relates to how conservative or liberal people really are will require a lot more study. There likely is a limit to how much a person can be budged from their "natural viewpoint".
Neither my liberal nor my conservative friends ever budge significantly in their beliefs, and neither Michael Moore nor Rush Limbaugh have been able to change their minds.
Overall, I do recommend that any moderate or liberal read this to challenge their own assumptions. It certainly worked for me. The writing style is very readable. The book is well-formatted and its content thought-provoking.
If I had a bone to pick, it'd be that he seems to look at things on one dimension (left to right) and it misses someone like Ron Paul. But still a great book with brilliant insights. And the writer's voice comes through clearly.