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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Fair and Balanced - the St. Petersburg Way

Anita Kumar writes for the St. Petersburg Times. This is how she begins an article about Students for Academic Freedom, a group founded by David Horowitz to promote greater ideological balance in colleges and universities.

Across the nation, liberal professors are being accused of abusing their conservative students by humiliating them in classes, lowering their grades, forcing them to listen to radical leftist views.

Some lawmakers want to even the score. They want to forbid professors from bashing President Bush, mandate that they teach creationism alongside evolution and require them to explain in history class that some doubt the Holocaust existed.

This is, of course, a bizarre misrepresentation of the aims of Students for Academic Freedom. With this in mind, I decided see how a biased writer would begin an article about media bias.

Across the nation, writers for the mainstream media are being accused of Liberal bias, humiliating the readers that don’t agree with them, calling them Neanderthals, forcing them to listen to radical leftist views.

Despite their plummeting believability and drop off in readership, members of the MSM are fighting back. They want to force conservative talk radio off the air and are threatening Rush Limbaugh with jail, they are advocating the assassination of President Bush and believe that journalists are being systematically killed in Iraq by American troops. While praising the image of a crucifix in urine they become outraged by having the Koran touched by a non-Muslim.

I then asked her the following question:

There, do you think that’s a fair representation of the views of the mainstream media? If you don’t, what possessed you to so seriously misrepresent the mainstream views of those who seek more balance in academia?

If you read the entire article you will note the omission of certain facts that make the case against academic bias less forceful. This paragraph, for example omits several easily obtainable facts:

Several national studies are on Horowitz's side, showing that liberal professors outnumber conservative professors on campuses. This year for the first time, universities made the list of top organizations ranked by employees' contributions to a presidential candidate, John Kerry, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

What's missing? The numbers! In an academic study done by political scientist Stanley Rothman of Smith College, communications professor S. Robert Lichter of George Mason University, and Canadian polling expert Neil Nevitte, published in the online journal Forum, paints a stark picture of a politically skewed academy. Nearly three quarters of the professors in a 1999 survey of college faculty identified themselves as left/liberal, only 15 percent as right/conservative; 50 percent were Democrats and 11 percent Republicans.

In we learn that 78% of contributions over $200 went to Democrats and only 21% went to Republicans. At Harvard, 96% of the money went to Democrats.

If you include the numbers, the Liberal bias in academia - especially "elite" academia gets so bad that even Anita Kumar dare not include it in her article, lest she weakens the case against ideological bias.

Good luck on keeping a lid on this.

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