Media Matters Bogus Claim: The Conservative Advantage In Syndicated Op-Ed Columns

Media Matters, which is a left-wing outfit, put together an attention grabbing study that purports to show that conservative columnists get significantly more of their work published on editorial pages across the country than liberals.

Here are some of the conclusions from their report,

* Sixty percent of the nation’s daily newspapers print more conservative syndicated columnists every week than progressive syndicated columnists. Only 20 percent run more progressives than conservatives, while the remaining 20 percent are evenly balanced.

* In a given week, nationally syndicated progressive columnists are published in newspapers with a combined total circulation of 125 million. Conservative columnists, on the other hand, are published in newspapers with a combined total circulation of more than 152 million.2

* The top 10 columnists as ranked by the number of papers in which they are carried include five conservatives, two centrists, and only three progressives.

* The top 10 columnists as ranked by the total circulation of the papers in which they are published also include five conservatives, two centrists, and only three progressives.

So, do conservatives really get more syndicated columns published than liberals?

In a word, no. Media Matters has, as MoveOn might say, “cooked the books.”


Well, they have 3 categories they put columnists into: conservatives, progressives, and centrists.

This is problematic in and of itself because the difference between a right leaning centrist and a conservative or a progressive leaning centrist and a progressive is always going to be extremely subjective.

In the case of Media Matters, they list people like Thomas Friedman, David Broder, Ron Brownstein as “centrists,” not progressives. But, you could just as easily call George Will a centrist as any of those three columnists — however, that would throw their numbers off.

Furthermore, I recognize all the names on the list of the most popular “centrist” columnists except two of the smaller ones, Mary Sanchez and Maria Elena Salinas, and every one of them I know is to the left of center.

So, in other words, even if you assume Media Matters was accurate in compiling the figures, which, given their habitual slanted coverage of the media is a big “if,” there are more “left leaning” columnists than “right leaning” columnists on the list.

However, there’s another obvious flaw in their argument. One of the 10 most popular “conservative” columnists overall that they list is left-of-center Mort Kondracke. Another is Ruben Navarrette, Jr. who could fairly be said to be somewhere between Arlen Specter and Lincoln Chafee on an ideological scale. Yes, he’s probably to the right-of-center, but how in the world could this guy be considered a conservative when people like David Broder and Ron Brownstein are being labeled centrists? Since they only go 10 deep in each category, it’s entirely possible that there could be dozens more mislabeled columnists that are throwing their numbers off — we just have no way to know.

Share this!

Enjoy reading? Share it with your friends!