Two researchers have combined these two disparate ideas to come up with a measure of media bias that doesn't depend on journalists' own perceptions of where they fit on the political spectrum, or on subjective judgments about the philosophical orientation of think tanks. Tim Groseclose, of UCLA and Stanford, and Jeff Milyo of the University of Chicago used data comparing which think tanks various politicians liked to quote and which think tanks various media outlets liked to quote in their news stories to estimate two ADA scores for each media outlet in the study, one based on the number of times a think tank was cited, and the other on the length of the citation.
The authors say they expected to find that the mainstream media leaned to the left, but they were "astounded by the degree." So when people say, for example, that The New York Times may be tilted left, but people can compensate for that by watching Fox News, they don't take into account that the Times is much further from the center than Fox. "To gain a balanced perspective, one would need to spend twice as much time watching Special Report as he or she spends reading The New York Times." . . .
The predominance of liberals (however identified) in major media is well-documented, but there remains a great deal of controversy over how much that fact influences news reporting (this analysis looks only at news reports, not editorials, reviews or letters to the editor). Most journalists I know say they work hard to keep their personal views out of their news reporting (again, excepting people like me who are supposed to be expressing opinions). And most of them, I'm sure, sincerely believe they succeed. This is evidence that what they succeed best at is sounding like Democrats.