Does the media have a liberal bias? In spite of conservative whining about being marginalized in the public sphere, the truth shows something different—at least when it comes to coverage of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. A study by Media Matters for America found that the Associated Press has quoted significantly more people supportive of Kavaunagh than those opposed.
According to a search in the Nexis database of Associated Press articles focused on Brett Kavanaugh since Trump announced his nomination on July 8, 2018, Republicans are quoted 47 percent more than Democrats and, overall, they quoted pro-Kavanaugh people 53 percent more.
Media Matters focused on coverage by the Associated Press because of its widespread reach and thus its power to inform and influence a large number of Americans. AP supplies most newswire content, which is pushed to local newspapers throughout the country. This means local newspaper readers are getting a very skewed perception of Kavanaugh, minimizing how dangerous he really is.
The results of the study are quite disturbing considering what is at stake if Kavaunagh is confirmed—he was nominated by Trump, the unindicted co-conspirator, afterall. He is an incredibly unpopular and an extremely partisan nominee—social scientists Elliott Ash and Daniel L. Chen found that he ruled along partisan lines and used conservative doctrine to defend his stances more often than his peers.
This is why media literacy is important. While media often serves as an accountability tool for big institutions and public figures, it doesn’t mean it should be free of accountability itself. Most U.S. senators haven’t even promised their support of Kavanaugh yet—would readers of AP content even know, considering the slanted coverage?
It’s also important to note the importance of media diversity. The people behind our mainstream media are still way more white, male, and privileged than the average American. With reproductive rights and civil rights at stake, it isn’t a total surprise that people more removed from the issue—white men, mainly—wouldn’t be on high alarm.
Take a look at the enlightening graphics below.