The alignment of political media (updated)

Several months ago I put together a chart trying to estimate where media institutions lie on the political spectrum and reasonability spectrum. As a refresher:

  • The Y axis is has publications that are more reasonable/restrained up top and bombastic/insane lower.
  • The X axis is left-right.

I added The Daily Signal, New York Post, Spiked, IJ Review, Mic, Upworthy, New York Magazine, Crisis Magazine,The New Inquiry, The New Criterion, The Atlantic, and blogs, The Future Primaeval, Social Matter and Freddie DeBoer.

political grid new

I adjusted the position of others. Breitbart gained some reasonability points for being one of the few media outlets to cover gamergate in an honest fashion. The New Republic got pushed down due to its attempted transformation to a Salon-like click model and voice, causing an exodus of respectable staff.

Am I missing anything? Anything out of place? Leave a comment or tweet at @robert_mariani. Even blogs will be considered.

118 comments

  1. You could consider adding intellihub.com to the list. We reach 50,000 people a day but as we are similar to infowars i guess you would be putting us near the bottom on the right hand side but hey thats better then nothing:) Besides the infowars ranking I totally agree with everything else.

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  2. Shouldn’t the left/right division line be around where MSNBC is, if it represents capitalism vs anticapitalism? Anybody who thinks capitalism is viable should be to the right of that line.

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      1. Robert, I think your definition of “center” is no worse than Ashford’s.

        This is a good first try, but putting CNN and Wash Post as center left and WSJ as center is pretty radical too

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      2. I’ll tell you what is definitely NOT “the center” – The folks running this website and coming up with this chart! I guess this is a good window into the mind of DC Right Wingers….

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  3. This appears to be normative to current manipulated standards and weighted towards distractive social issues horizontally. Concern for the truth, be it environmental, technologic or financial should lead to unreasonableness like Ozzie Zehner, Ed Snowden or Matt Taibbi. The internet, political and media discourse have been subsumed by Corporatism and Crony Capitalism, which is an enormous bias running up the top divider, You do not even include the most reasonable, inciteful and unbiased source, The Christian Science Monitor, whose human concerns make it seem almost Marxian in relation to your grab bag of consumeristic, corporatic media.

    I have been on the internet since 1997 when my searches were topped by free articles posted in University sites, and now the first page is ads to which I have never responded because I do not support unreasonable profits. We are hurtling over the climate cliff, the soil and waters are dying and we are being smothered by Carbon and Nitrogen pollution. Anyone who is reasonable on these topics is an ostrich.

    Technology has been insanely successful at information processing – 16 orders of magnitude performance/price ratio in my lifetime – but it will not provide more than one or two orders of magnitude for any problem where the solution has mass or requires energy and it is running out of room for advancement in semi-conductor manufacturing. Anyone who cites Moore’s Law today in reference to the future is a charlatan, and I say that as one of the enforcers of Moore’s Law since 1985.

    Our economic system is an inverted pyramid scheme where the people with the greatest income do the least essential services; and the the most important tasks, like weeding and harvesting crops, building shelter, sewing clothing, and child care get the least financial reward. Financial services are based on derivatives of a construct and yet they are the mega-consumers impoverishing the Earth itself.

    Since ultimately corporations and consumers sign the paychecks of the pundits and bloviators in all the media sources above (save the Beeb), we should expect this bias – but don’t leave it out of an infographic which purports to catalog bias, and do not dismiss anti-corporatism like Rolling Stone as raving – it is pro-human activism fighting a waterfall the size of the polluted Gulf Stream.

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  4. CNN is left of center? Wash Post? C’mon! Absurd. BBC is center left? No actual liberals would consider these center left.

    Furthermore, WSJ is center? Fox News is closer to the center then MSNBC?

    Overall this is a good first try, but quite obviously skewed to the right.

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  5. Also, putting the UK Telegraph is “Center” is totally absurd. In the UK, the Telegraph is an openly right wing paper, as the is Guardian openly Left.

    This could be the worst, most skewed classification you have.

    Again, Robert, this is a good first try, perhaps as a “Pre Beta” product, but is laughable for anything else.

    In my humble opinion, please go back to the drawing board.

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  6. Ahhhh… now it all makes sense. Editor is formerly of Daily Caller and American Conservative – which makes sense how the left/right overten window is coming from a right leaning lens.

    Also – Robert works for RT America, thus putting RT so close to the center. (Yeah, Alex Jones, Max Keiser and the rest are the height of reasonable and restrained!)

    Regardless, I still applaud the effort. The 2 Dimensional system is a very interest idea. I think we need to put one together, but not from a right leaning lens

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      1. AJ had a weekly TV show on them a few years back. Perhaps it’s gone, I haven’t kept up. Max Keiser (Whom I like a lot, but he’s pretty crazy and flamboyant) had a show on for many years. Not sure if he still does. Don’ get me wrong, I like that RT allows on many heterodox thinkers from the left/right that don’t get US MSM attention. Perhaps they are close the left/right center, but certainly not the center of the vertical access.

        The right leaning lens is still quite obvious. That’s the thrust of my critique, not RT’s placement.

        If we went more “meta” and did a classification of classification systems, we could place your chart as a fair, solid, US based, right wing male lens of looking at the world.

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  7. Just segmenting the market – this is a solid, fair representation of how US right leaning males (as a segment) look at the political media landscape i.e. their version of the Overton window. That’s not meant as a criticism. In fact, I believe a lot of hard word work went into producing this, and the representation is a fair and accurate one for this particular constituency. If you’d we drop the word “male” I suppose we could, but it’s not a big deal either way.

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  8. Regarding the Guardian and Telegraph, even the vast majority of Brit conservatives put the Telegraph and Guardian as mirror left/right equivalents of one another, and the the Guardian is considered a high-brow paper in the same range as the FT or Times of London. The Telegraph is considered a mid-brow paper.

    Like i said, this is obviously reflecting the meta perspective of a very, very specific segment, mainly US based right wing/right leaning folks (male or not)

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    1. Guardian has a lot of dishonest/massaged reporting regardless of how “high brow” they look. That loses them points. They sometimes even have lunatic Salon-like “white male conspiracy” thinkpieces

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      1. Yup. My classification of this classifacation system holds! Enjoy your group pow-wow. Thanks for letting me play!

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  9. I mostly agree, but Infowars should be much more to the right, Salon should be up, and Motherjones should be down. Dailymail should probably be down a bit too, literally 1/3 of their headlines I see are ridiculous fearmongering.

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  10. Wow!! The National Interest is unreasonable?! Why?
    I find them to be practically a FP equivalent of the TAC. They are far more pragmatic and objective than Telegraph, Am.Interest or Taki!…

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  11. Gotta love how hard core racists like the church shooter were obsessed with so many far, far right wing website like Daily Caller, The Blaze that you put as merely “conservative” when they are way off the charts right wing. They have no remote equivalent on the left side of your chart. You would have to go to far, far leftwing marxist papers like The Militant or probably Islamist news sources to find the equivalent to your extreme conservative websites. Robert, your “news” sources are inches away from openly racist groups like the CCC (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/21/dylann-roof-manifesto-charlston-shootings-republicans). Just embrace your real self man!

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  12. Here’s an interesting thought-experiment: what happens if you completely remove the two axis in your chart? That is, don’t define a “center” per se, but merely rank all the news outlets/opinion sites/whatever relative to each other, in the two directions you’ve already chosen.

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  13. American Conservative seems high on reasonableness. They are Pat Buchanan paleocons. They seem reasonable because of the anti-war stance, but they are culturally pretty unreasonable.

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  14. It does not make sense that CNN is so low on the vertical axis, even below Fox. Politfact rated Fox News as Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire 58% of the time, whereas for CNN was 22%. Separately, it does not make sense to put WSJ at center with its vociferous climate denial. This is an important effort as we face an onslaught of news sources, many illegitimate. Thank you.

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  15. I enjoy and would not challenge the chart as it is laid out. But it is not clear how one goes about making a judgment. a different author for example, might have a very different and valid view of the media. I am curious (you can respond via e-mail) your approach to positioning and the gradient used in your analysis.

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  16. One wonders if Breitbart should continue in the relatively “reasonable” position it occupies on the graph. I should think recent stories would push it much further toward the “bombastic” pole.

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  17. I see a lot of stuff from Bipartisanreport.com in my Facebook feed. Doesn’t look too bipartisan to me. Would love to see where you rank it.

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  18. The Young Turks, more commonly know as TYT not being included is a huge oversight. They’re one of if not thee largest online news/media outlet.

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  19. You’ve clearly worked very hard on this. Very insightful!

    I would love to know where the Christian Science Monitor might fall on this scale –I would hope it placed fairly near to the top. Despite its name it’s reliably one of the most unbiased, fact-based, non-judgemental flavour of news reporting out there. Understated and very old-school: not only does it manage to avoid the right-wing/left-wing bias, it also managed not to jump on the “make the headlines more clickbaity!” bandwagon.

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  20. Mitrailleuse this is awesome but way too subjective. Why not post a list of conditions and then ask them of the organizations and weight it all that way.

    For instance, Roe vs wade is another question to put on the liberal vs conservative scale. Also ask questions like should the wealthy be taxed more than the poor? You want about 10 of those questions, and that would grade the conservative vs liberal philosophy. Then ask questions like this “Do vaccines cause autism?” or “Does homeopathic medicine work?” If you are a liberal and believe this you are part of the unhinged liberal scale (this question doesn’t really pertain to conservatives). For conservatives the equivalent question would be “Is global warming a chinese hoax” answering yes would put you on the wacky scale but again this question can only be asked of conservatives because liberals have different things they get wacky about. You can also ask conservatives “How old is the world” anything less than a few billion years puts you into wacky terrortory. It might be difficult to come up with these questions but after you get them it will allow us to understand more about why any particular organization gets put on the sale where it is.

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