Liberal bias

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Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
Stephen Colbert[1]

Liberal bias is a term used in two ways. First, the most obvious and realistic:

  1. A bias towards liberal political views.

Second, as conservative pundits seem to understand it:

2.1. Where an issue is presented in such a way as to downplay points of view expressed by conservatives.
2.2. A pejorative to describe any fact or opinion that conservatives don't like.
2.3. Lies from the Devil intended to lead you away from their political agenda.
2.4. Facts.

The first definition is fairly straightforward. It is true that some news organizations do have a left-leaning stance, just as a number of news organizations have a right-leaning stance; one can't read The Guardian or watch Rachel Maddow without feeling a teeny weeny slight lean to the left but they at least usually acknowledge this fact.[2] However, the second definition is far more interesting as it tells us something about the attitudes of some pundits and commentators to things that they don't agree with.

From a conservative POV[edit]

The American right, for example, occupies half of the ideological spectrum and ranges from doctrinaire conservatives like modern Republicans all the way to goose-stepping Neo-Nazis. What they share is a contempt for the grievances of the left-wing, some of which survive news coverage filters. A common tactic of many wingnuts is to dismiss news stories and facts if they consider them to be written in such a way that they distort the truth and present the story with a "liberal" slant. Many commentators are quick to use the argument that any story that doesn't fit with their preconceived notions or understanding of an issue must be wrong, and thus it has a liberal (or other) bias and is actually pushing an agenda—whereas they, of course, are being impartial.

There is a long history of accusing the media of a liberal bias, mainly as a method to discredit critics without having to disprove the point they make (ad hominem). Papers that supported the civil rights movement and labor union movement in the United States were frequently accused of having liberal and/or communist leanings by conservatives. In South Africa, anti-apartheid news outlets were accused of having liberal biases and providing ideological support for the anti-apartheid movement. Unsurprisingly, they were frequently subjected to government censorship.[citation needed]

The accusation of a liberal bias in the media has become so widespread in conservative circles and conversation that the term Mainstream Media (MSM) is largely a colloquialism for "liberal media."

Organizations that conservatives frequently accuse of being liberal:

Other liberally curious things[edit]

Conservatives don't stop at just accusing news organizations of having a liberal bias. In fact, if everything had the liberal bias that conservatives claimed, reality itself would surely have some form of liberal bias; either that, or liberals are so devious that they have managed to take control over every form of communication to distort the truth.

Here is a short list of places conservatives have found liberal bias:


Conservatives who lambast anything for having a liberal bias most likely genuinely believe what they are saying. It is a staple of the ideology to stand for 'tradition' and the status quo, so it is not surprising that many conservatives are firmly entrenched in their personal opinions and beliefs and will employ willful ignorance when confronted with opposing viewpoints, no matter the accuracy. A story that can be firmly based in fact can be accused of having a liberal bias because it goes against a central part of conservative thought and political discourse (e.g. evolution or global warming, at least with American conservatives). If a news organization is actually left-leaning, or if conservatives suspect it of being left-leaning, news stories can't be trusted, and every fact mentioned now comes up for question.

This type of ignorance can have a terrible effect, and in Texas has actually led to whitewashing of history in school textbooks.[32]

Conservative leaders and others have darker motives, though, and attacking critics for having liberal bias is meant to discredit them, and also to discredit what could otherwise be legitimate criticisms.

Other uses of the word[edit]

Noam Chomsky said in his book, Manufacturing Consent, that media should have a liberal bias as a "sacrisanct" for leftists, that liberalism is so "extreme" in American society that it serves as a no-go for mainstream leftists.

See also[edit]


  1. Re-Improved Colbert transcript (now with complete text of Colbert-Thomas video!), Daily Kos, 30 April 2006
  2. RationalWiki itself has been accused of leaning to the left more than a man who has had his left leg blown off. While most of our users and political articles are left-leaning, they clearly haven't read our articles on communism and capitalism.
  13. The comment section alone will tell you this.
  31. See the Conservative Bible Project
  32. [1] (That source is from the New York Times though, so obviously cannot be trusted.)