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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind » User review

Thorough and Rigorous Account of the Left Wing Bias in the American Media

  • Jul 10, 2012
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In a different universe, a book like this one would never have been written. Not because it's in any way false (it's as far from it as it is intellectually possible), nor because its subject matter is uninteresting or boring. No, this kind of book ought not to have been written because in a perfectly honest world there would be absolutely no need for it. The fact that most of the media outlets lean heavily to the left should be so patently obvious to any intellectually honest person that a book like this one would be stacked in the bookstore between the book proving that the sky is blue and the one demonstrating the wetness of water. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfectly honest world, so there is a great need for a book like the "Left Turn" - a honest and rigorous analysis of the extent and the nature of the left wing bias in the media.

There have been many other books dealing with this topics written over the past couple of decades, and each one of them had an interesting and insightful take on the topic of left wing media bias. However, what distinguishes the "Left Turn" is its scope, accuracy, and the academically accepted high standards of research. The author, Tim Groseclose, is a distinguished social scientist, and all the work upon which this book is based has previously appeared in high-level peer reviewed journals. This doesn't necessarily mean that his work is free of error of any kind, but it significantly raises the bar for anyone who wants to have it dismissed out of hand.

One of the main lessons that anyone can take from reading this book is that political bias is a very real thing, it is possible to operationally define it, it is possible to measure it, and most importantly it is possible to draw meaningful conclusion about individuals and institutions that embody different degrees of bias. Bias, in itself, doesn't mean that the individuals and media outlets are outright lying in order to present the stories and information in a way that favors their own "side." That sort of bias does exist, but it's relatively small compared to the main sources of bias in the media - selectively presenting facts and stories in such a way that the fully picture gets irrevocably distorted. Groseclose shows examples of how that sort of bias operates, and gives an estimate of the extent to which the twenty most significant news sources in the US are biased. (Newsflash - except Fox News and Washington Times all of them lean to the left.)

One of my favorite chapters in the book is the one in which Groseclose decides to try to visit a US city that leans to the right by an approximately same amount as the typical newsroom leans to the left. This is an almost impossible task, and he only approximately succeeds by visiting a small town in Utah, dominated by Mormons and settled by the southerners in the 19th century. Even so, the place is generally congenial to all of its residents (even the head of the local Democratic party) and a far cry from the shrill extreme left rhetoric and attitude that is found in most news sources these days.

The final sections of the book discuss some really remarkable claims: were it not for the extreme media bias the US population as a whole would be tilting even more to the right. In other words, if all of the media outlets overnight decided to be perfectly "moderate" on all of their news coverage, they would still be substantially to the left of what most public would find to be the "natural" political leanings. This is indeed a very strong claim, and even though Groseclose provides some convincing arguments and evidence to substantiate it, it's a topic that has really not been thoroughly researched.

Overall this is a very readable and well-presented case for the existence and the extent of the left wing bias in the media. All conservatives who want to be well informed on this topic ought to read it, as well as all the fair-minded independents and liberals. This is by far the best book on this topic that I've come across, and one of my favorite overall popular social science books on any topic.

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More Left Turn: How Liberal Media B... reviews
review by . July 10, 2012
In a different universe, a book like this one would never have been written. Not because it's in any way false (it's as far from it as it is intellectually possible), nor because its subject matter is uninteresting or boring. No, this kind of book ought not to have been written because in a perfectly honest world there would be absolutely no need for it. The fact that most of the media outlets lean heavily to the left should be so patently obvious to any intellectually honest person that a book …
review by . July 10, 2012
In a different universe, a book like this one would never have been written. Not because it's in any way false (it's as far from it as it is intellectually possible), nor because its subject matter is uninteresting or boring. No, this kind of book ought not to have been written because in a perfectly honest world there would be absolutely no need for it. The fact that most of the media outlets lean heavily to the left should be so patently obvious to any intellectually honest person that a book …
review by . July 10, 2012
In a different universe, a book like this one would never have been written. Not because it's in any way false (it's as far from it as it is intellectually possible), nor because its subject matter is uninteresting or boring. No, this kind of book ought not to have been written because in a perfectly honest world there would be absolutely no need for it. The fact that most of the media outlets lean heavily to the left should be so patently obvious to any intellectually honest person that a book …
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Bojan Tunguz ()
Ranked #53
I am a benevolent rascal. I love lounging in bed on a Sunday morning. Rainy days make me melancholy, but in a good kind of way. I am an incorrigible chocoholic. I hate Mondays, but I get over it by Wednesday. … more
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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

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