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Nate Silver: The Liberal Media Really Is A Problem

Regular readers know that we think the extreme liberal bias of the mainstream media makes for a less-informed electorate and a less intelligent discourse. In a piece that we hope liberals will share widely, Nate Silver explains how media bias makes news coverage and analysis dumber:

[P]olitical experts aren’t a very diverse group and tend to place a lot of faith in the opinions of other experts and other members of the political establishment. Once a consensus view is established, it tends to reinforce itself until and unless there’s very compelling evidence for the contrary position. Social media, especially Twitter, can amplify the groupthink further. It can be an echo chamber.

Silver explains that the media doesn’t just suffer from political homogeneity. The decline of local newspapers has led to a concentration of reporting conducted in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington. As Silver puts it, “a more geographically decentralized reporting pool might have asked more questions about why Clinton wasn’t campaigning in Wisconsin.”

It’s an excellent article that, among other things, gives some sense of why the media got so many major 2016 stories wrong. You should read the whole thing.

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  • ——————————

    “Nate Silver: The Liberal Media Really Is A Problem”

    Gosh Nate…who knew!….

    • MikePM

      No kidding. You really are a genius Nate. Next earth-shattering revelation: “Nate Silver: pocket Aces is a pretty good starting hand.”

      • Beauceron


      • DiogenesDespairs

        And after that, “Nate Silver: 99+% chance sun will rise tomorrow morning. Indicationss of wide consensus on exact time.”

  • Suzy Dixon

    The first mistake is thinking their goal is to cover the news. When you have most newspapers and networks endorsing one particular candidate over another they are simply partisan actors. And everyone is realize that obvious reality.
    In fact, it’s troublesome that networks and newspapers endorse candidates at all! Very bizarre.

    • Beauceron

      I think that’s a very good point.

      When I read something from the NY Times or W Post, I approach it as reading a missive from the Left, not as an unbiased journalistic report of an event. I do that because that is what it is.

      The Left is one of the major political forces in the country and it is the hands-down dominant cultural force in the country. It’s important to know what and how they think. That’s why I read materials from the NYT and WP– I don’t read anything from those papers to stay informed of events. I read them to know where they’re trying to steer the country.

      • KremlinKryptonite

        And who works for WaPo now? Ding ding ding. Johnny Podesta LOL

      • Josephbleau

        I read the NYT to discern the opinion of Carlos Slim, I read the Wa Po to determine the opinion of Bezos. No more no less.

    • DiogenesDespairs

      You are touching on something very important that is a defect in Silver’s article. He seems to be bending over backwards to avoid saying the media bias was largely due to partisan/ideological devotion to the Democratic party amd/or “Progressive” ideology. That is to say, a preponderance of people with closed minds that sometimes seem to border on the fanatical. It is true that you find similar bias on the right, but the major media, which reach the widest audiences and therefore have the biggest impact, are overwhelmingly left-oriented, so that is the bigger problem, bu far. He needs to pay more attention to the “fanaticism” element than he shows here.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Indeed, we needed CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and PBS together with the biggest newspapers reporting THIS:

    “You, dear general audience, have NO IDEA how much ideological damage has been done to citizens’ brains in your country by two decades of Fox News, talk radio, the NRA and miscellaneous “ministries” all over purchased media. You must, in the 21st Century, always (ALWAYS) assume that these forces WILL pound you into dust unless you (YOU) get out in the public square and defeat them.

    We hear (and you may have heard) that Hillary Clinton leads some polls during this election season. DO NOT BELIEVE THIS MEANS ANYTHING. As a result of decades of “conservative” anger spin, America now contains a closeted “anger class” which cannot be measured and cannot be under-estimated. Assume that your country is ALWAYS at risk of capture by that spirit of meanness. Only YOU can prevent it.”

    We’ll have to assume that business advertisers are one reason why “mainstream” media found itself unable to do this civic duty.

    • Jim__L

      Did you even read the above article?

      • FriendlyGoat


        • rheddles


        • Jim__L

          … Can you engage with the actual point of the article, or is a propaganda message from inside the Leftist bubble the best you can do?

          That is exactly the problem Silver points out, remember.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I see the point of the article. I just don’t believe it. The mainstream media assumed more common sense in the electorate than actually exists there. Right-wing spin is the reason for the loss. Mainstream media ought to have ferreted out this sociological reality and harped on it to the moon. Largely because of its sponsorship model, it can’t.

          • Jim__L

            FG, I don’t pay much attention to any of the media you cite there. I came up with my ideas independently, reading history, and observing the people around me.

            It doesn’t really surprise me that others do the same thing I do, and reach the same conclusions.

            I can’t help but think you might be projecting. Do you follow the DC, LA, NY, and SF publications Silver cites?

          • FriendlyGoat

            I do not subscribe to the Washington Post or New York Times. I do read a lot of articles online from them. My take on those kinds of papers is that they are assuming that the bulk of in-between America actually has more sense than it now does. Ditto the TV networks—–BUT—–these companies are, in fact, companies with advertising customers not merely attempting to reach a left-side audience. They are competing with Fox and talk radio where the advertisers are fully aware that most of the audience is hard-right and they therefore buy ads tailored to the hard right and are satisfied with that niche. These others attempt to play to the left and right audiences simultaneously. So, what happened? The supposedly “liberal” mainstream media did not push a truly liberal message hard enough and lost its preference in the election. The correct coverage would have been——“America is at risk of being taken over by a consortium of corporations enabled by Rush Limbaugh groupies, Sean Hannity groupies and Pat Robertson groupies. Don’t let it happen, folks”. Alas, the business models do not allow for THAT kind of liberalism, even though America was in dire need of hearing it.

          • Tom

            “The supposedly “liberal” mainstream media did not push a truly liberal message hard enough and lost its preference in the election.”

            Which timeline are you from? Because it’s not this one.
            Frankly, you remind me of Newt Gingrich carping about how public opinion in Europe was against the Iraq war because the State Department wasn’t pushing the Bush administration’s narrative hard enough.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I explained to you that a “liberal” message is one actually against conservatism. We hear that there is such a thing as a LIBERAL “mainstream media”. Well, there isn’t——because of the business model. Comcast, which owns NBC, and which solicits advertising from all corporations, cannot argue against high-end tax cuts and corporate deregulation—-the main goals of Republicans—-and they don’t. It would be nice if they did for the sake of honesty, but they can’t and they don’t. So the “liberal” tag constantly applied to them doesn’t really exist in reality.

          • Tom

            You…really believe that.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Sadly he isn’t alone. Go to the real fever swamps like Salon, and you find that sort of belief system is very common.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Of course.

          • solstice

            Never mind that big business and Wall Street have been heavily behind Obama, Hillary, and the Democratic Party because they love the regulations that keep down small business in the US and the trade deals that enable them to exploit dirt cheap labor abroad. You should know that the people who love heavy economic regulation the most are the corporations whom you love to castigate.

          • Boritz

            Yeah, business models don’t care about the country. They only care about how they look on the runway.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Truer than you think.

          • Makaden

            “We lost because people were duped. If they weren’t duped, they would obviously agree with us.”


            FG and every liberal that ever lived

          • FriendlyGoat

            Not far from the truth. We will now be going through the cycle where the duped discover how duped they were and on what large range of subjects.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Probably, though his reading comprehension was never particularly impressive.

    • Angel Martin

      “…we needed CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and PBS together with the biggest newspapers reporting THIS:

      “You, dear general audience, have NO IDEA how much ideological damage has been done to citizens’ brains in your country by two decades of Fox News, talk radio, the NRA and miscellaneous “ministries” all over purchased media. You must, in the 21st Century, always (ALWAYS) assume that these forces WILL pound you into dust…”

      It would be wonderful if all the liberal media would take FG’s advice – “The people are stupid, no need to change a thing!”

      • FriendlyGoat

        Many people ARE stupid, and that is what has been under-estimated. Donald Trump understood that a lot of them really wanted a hat, really wanted to hear kick-ass putdown talk, really wanted to take a crack at immigrants, really wanted to imagine themselves being made great again (even though that is not exactly what Donald promised), really wanted a refuge from a black president who talked sense all the time.

        And for THAT performance, people are to receive—–wait for it—-massive (MASSIVE) tax relief at the Koch Brothers level, citizens’ health insurance security diminished, and a good stiff price increase on any imports purchased at Walmart. They are to receive governmental opposition to minimum wages, labor laws, worker safety laws, non-discrimination laws, collective bargaining and environmental protection. But——they get to hear kick-ass talk. Too bad they don’t know it’s their own asses being kicked.

        • ——————————

          “Many people ARE stupid”

          Yes…they are called liberals…hence the term ‘libtard’….

          • FriendlyGoat

            Weak, dude.

        • solstice

          Keep it up, Goat. Seriously, the more you and your ilk characterize Trump and his supporters as nothing more than bigoted yokels, the better the populist nationalist wing of the Republican party will do at the ballot box. That’s why I’m telling you to keep it up — I like what you’re doing.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, I wasn’t going to call you anything, but suddenly dumbass and SOB are coming to mind. Is that better for you?

            Bear in mind that Trump shtick sold ONCE and either delivers all the wonderful help he promised working people or—–it’s all toast. I’m betting the latter as more and more people realize each day how screwed they really are.

          • solstice

            Yes, that is better for me. Good Goat *pats you on the head and scratches you behind the ears*

            Obama campaigned as a political messiah and pragmatic centrist who would lead Americans of all races and political persuasions into a bright future of unity and prosperity as well as “heal” the “planet.” Things didn’t quite materialize that way did they? Instead, Big Mouth took his party sharply to the left, exploded the national debt, worsened the already awful health care system, worsened the higher education bubble and student debt crisis, ignored the scandal of universities charging exorbitant prices for worthless degrees, ignored the scandal of universities being indoctrination camps rather than centers of debate and intellectual rigor, stabbed allies in the back, used the IRS to go after his political opponents, cynically exacerbated demographic divisions and tensions for political gain, launched unnecessary and disastrous military interventions, mendaciously claimed that a YouTube video led to the murders of US diplomats in Libya, endorsed the disastrous “Arab Spring,” vastly underestimated and thereby enabled the rise of ISIS, engaged in illegal espionage against people he hates, encouraged massive and reckless Third World migration to both America and Europe, promoted the disarmament of the American citizenry, embraced free speech-suffocating and reality-denying political correctness, palled around with murderous Cuban autocrats, cozied up to Wall Street slimeballs and anti-American globalist business interests, used threats to dissuade the UK electorate from voting to leave the autocratic and bureaucratic nightmare known as the EU, bowed to the savagely theocratic Saudi monarch, promoted the phony gender wage gap and male-hating feminism, shoved sexual degeneracy down everyone’s throats, vastly increased job-suffocating economic regulation, promoted bizarre and concocted conspiracy theories regarding Russia (so much for that reset button, more flexibility for Vlad in a second term, and the Cold War being long over!), fostered secrecy and lack of transparency in his administration, created imaginary red lines, ignored rising urban crime and the disastrous state of the inner cities, ignored the disastrous state of rural and working class communities, promoted the disintegration of the American nuclear family unit, threw police officers under the bus, ignored the flood of drugs and criminals moving with ease across the southern border, ignored sanctuary cities, increased government welfare dependency, ignored suffering military veterans, lied repeatedly about the wretched state of the US economy, ruined school lunches (that was actually mostly his wife’s doing), spent most of his second term on the golf course, coddled the Muslim Brotherhood, appeased and financed Iran, convened meaningless climate change summits, ignored the horrific persecution of minorities in majority Muslim nations, strutted around and smirked like the malignant narcissist he is, engaged in behind-the-scenes coordination of left-wing criminality at conservative and pro-Trump events, colluded with the corrupt mainstream media to deceive and propagandize the American public, denied the ideological and religious motivations of Islamic terrorists, and took every available opportunity to apologize for America and suck up to the violent religion of Islam — but, yes, Goat, Obama is only disliked by xenophobic, racist, immigrant-hating Americans because he is a black man who happened to speak some sense.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You have what you want. Wealth and power are suddenly moving straight upward at breakneck speed, courtesy of an alignment of Republicans. Enjoy yourself.

          • D4x

            When you put it that way…it is even more tragic… words fail me…

        • solstice

          For someone who claims to support laborers, you seem awfully comfortable with companies like Wal-Mart outsourcing US manufacturing jobs and offering cheaper prices by exploiting quasi-slave labor in Third World.

        • Richard Johnson

          really wanted a refuge from a black president who talked sense all the time.

          Such as when President Obama informed us in 2012, “We can’t drill our way to lower gas[oline] prices.” Yup, that made a lot of sense. After all, the price of oil and gasoline is as high today as it was in 2012, right? 🙂

          Consider what candidate Obama said away from the teleprompter about energy in 2008. Why the tire-pressure gauge stings; Update: The spin continues.

          There are things you can do individually, though, to save energy.
          Making sure your tires are properly inflated — simple thing. But we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off drilling — if everybody was just inflating their tires? And getting regular tune-ups? You’d actually save just as much!

          Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about energy knew this was nonsense back in 2008. The increase in domestic production since 2008 further proves that Obama spoke nonsense.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Fracking has surprised the entire petro world, not just Obama. Did you notice it proceeded just fine in the Obama years and that a change to Trumpism is not needed to make it work?

  • Jim__L

    “The decline of local newspapers has led to a concentration of reporting
    conducted in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington.”

    All the more reason to pursue national policies that limit the influence super-cities, and enhance the influence of the rest of the country.

    These super-cities do a whole lot more harm than good.

  • Andrew Allison

    Simple explanation for the media bias: “And in a country where educational attainment is an increasingly important predictor of cultural and political behavior, some 92 percent of journalists have college degrees. A degree didn’t used to be a de facto prerequisite7 for a reporting job; just 70 percent of journalists had college degrees in 1982 and only 58 percent did in 1971.” In other words, indoctrination by a left-wing academy.

    • Jim__L


    • f1b0nacc1

      That wasn’t a bug, it was/is a feature

    • PierrePendre

      Why would anyone expect the academy, which is to say the professoriat, to be anything other than progressive, by which we mean leftist. In an imperfect world of constant change, it’s innate to man to seek to improve his condition and academics devote their lives to the study of the way things are and how they can be improved. We seem to have a bias in favour of reform as a fundamentally good thing and this favours the Left even if experience shows us that many reforms turn out badly and all of them are subject to the law of unintended consequences. Conservatives playing a cautious role that prefers empiricism to theory always seems to be standing in the way of progress and are easily cast as reactionaries in the perpetual struggle for dominance between Left and Right. Now that we have decided that almost every white collar job should be reserved for those who have university degrees, it’s inevitable that the natural leftist bias in the university is carried over into every day life by its graduates and becomes self-reinforcing through self-selection and peer pressure. The media are simply one example of this process which is one of the things in modern life not to be amenable to change or reform because they are composed of people who all agree with each other.

  • Angel Martin

    No ! No ! No !

    Liberals are blameless ! it’s all the fault of Trump with his animal cunning and treason in favor of Putin !

    No need to change a thing !

  • f1b0nacc1

    I have always enjoyed Nate’s commentary on baseball, his understanding of politics is limited to regurgitating the gentry left’s talking points.

  • ljgude

    I started reading the NY Times in 1956 and learned to dig into the news to try to work out was was going on. It was the best source at the time. I was fascinated by the rise of Fidel Castro and was surprised when he turned out to be a full gospel Communist instead of the cuddly Social Democrat he was portrayed to be in the Times. I learned caution, but the Liberal Media were the only game in town. It became definitive that they had gone full feral. like Fox News, when they put Abu Ghraib on the front page something like 30 days running. Since the advent of Trump the legacy media have become the propaganda media – all ‘resistance spin’ all the time. They have essentially gone out of the news business leaving the field open to the centre right press of which AI is an excellent example. But I have to point out that the most aggressive and best newcomer I’ve seen in the field has been the Federalist Podcast Hour. Plenty of criticism of Trump from various points of view. Genuine attempts to come to grips with what is actually going on. I find myself following their content, and AI’s to be fair, much as I followed the Times in my youth – as examples the best journalistic sources of our day. Nor do I expect the Times to recover they, like Pravda, have become the house organ of a collapsing soft core Marxism as Pravda was the leading propaganda outlet of Soviet Communism. As the head of the Columbia Journalism school said after Trump’s election the role of the media was now opposition, not balanced reporting.

  • Fat_Man

    “When Did Media Bias Become a Virtue: Liberal dismay about the New York Daily News’ scaling back its front-page campaign against Trump exposes the underside of a partisan pres” by Jonathan S. Tobin on March 10, 2017

    “What is surprising — and, indeed, ought to shock journalists who care about their profession — is the way the staff of the News, along with other journalists, reacted to the decision on the part of the paper’s publishers to scale back its assault on Trump once he was elected president. They had no problem with their newspaper’s using its front page and news section, as well as their opinion columns and editorials, to bash Trump. But once it decided to tone down the abuse, albeit while still regularly attacking him, the News’ staff didn’t treat this as an example of a newspaper trying to regain at least a smidgen of objectivity. No, they have made it clear — as a feature sympathetic to the paper’s rebels in Politico indicates — that this more measured if still critical attitude toward the president is a sign that the paper has lost its integrity.”

  • solstice

    Nate Silvers is a joke. In writing this article, he expects us to forget that throughout the primaries and general election, he was part of the liberal bubble he criticizes and that he was just as smugly overconfident in predicting a Hillary victory as the rest of that ilk.

    • Ellen

      Right. The only difference is that until the end, he gave Trump a 25-30 percent chance of victory, statistically speaking. What this means is he used statistical double speak to allow for the unlikely possibility that Trump would win by relying on a numerical conclusion, rather than a qualitative one. That doesn’t hide the fact that, like all the others, he believed confidently that Hillary would win. His model is a foolish one because he merely takes the average of all polls, while not taking into account that every single one of those polls might be based on a flawed sampling methodology, including the reality of the peculiarities of the electoral college.

  • Eric Johnson

    What? Ever heard of Fox News and Limbaugh et al? Silver is engaging in the usual liberal self flagellation while conservatives confuse stubborn stupidity for “character”.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Leftist Main Stream Media is dying. Their income is in a long term down trend (at a time when right wing sites are growing (Breitbart, Drudge, Fox News, etc…), and this concentrates the cocoon with no new blood, and layoffs of the younger less established.

    Silver’s recommendations of sending people to the rust belt, and fly over country is exactly what the Main Stream Media can’t afford to do. If they want a more balance view of the world, they must hire Right Wing journalists (getting rid of many of the leftists to make room), nothing less will work. And I’m not talking about sellouts like David Brooks the pseudo-conservative (he is way left of center, he votes Democrat for goodness sake).

    I expect very few of them to make the transition.

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