Pew Research have been looking at Liberals (lefties) and Conservatives (righties) and noting what media they consume in the USA. To my mind, the main finding is that the media are dominated by lefties. As I have explained, on leaving college the righties go into business, do the heavy lifting, make the money and pay taxes; and the lefties go into education and public service, and scribble the theory.
When readers are asked to say which of the most notable 36 US news sources they follow, no fewer than 28 are trusted by liberals to express their point of view. The headline that Pew should have used is: “78% of US Media Socialist”. So rich is the array of Left inclined propaganda sheets that Lefties can pick and choose their brand of communism from 4 main outlets: CNN, MSNBC, NPR, NYT. In contrast, Conservatives cluster round the outpost of Fascism which is Fox News. They distrust 24 of the same notable 36 news sources. I regret that, as a BBC consumer, I cannot tell you much about any of these US offerings, but The Guardian is recognisably to the Left, and bills itself as such. The Economist is a bit surprising, because business publications tend to the right, but it is certainly far to the Left on intelligence.
I suppose that, from another perspective, US liberals could say that they are truly Liberal, and watch a range of outlets, including Fox News, while Conservatives, as the name implies, watch virtually nothing else but that preferred provider. To put matters in context, although viewers prefer particular news outlets, they are exposed to a wider range, even though they may not concentrate upon them, so it is not a case of complete tunnel vision.
Of even more psychological interest is that US Lefties are more likely than Righties to dump friends who do not hold to their political opinions. This is strange, and suggests that a strict “purity” or “solidarity” measure is being applied on the left. Expulsion from the party was certainly a Bolshevik control mechanism: declaring that former persons were now un-persons, which in modern times translates to un-friending and un-following errant comrades. Conservatives tend to congregate round those who hold similar views, so perhaps they select more carefully, and don’t have to eject many left-leaning souls.
One thing the hard left and the hard right have in common (as Eysenck noted) is that they take a tough-minded approach to politics: they think that action matters, pay money to political parties, organise, keep up with the news, and vote.
On a transatlantic note, I had no idea so many Liberal Americans watched the BBC and read The Economist.
The sample on which the survey is based seems to be representative. I see that the top third of Americans earn more than $75,000 a year, and that only 66% of all US citizens are now classified as White.
I cannot find any mention of the amount of time people spend consuming news, It is possible that Lefties devote more time to news because being connected in that way is more part of their core self perceptions “I ought to know where people are being oppressed” while Righties might feel “I don’t want to hear about other people’s problems, unless the present a threat to me”. If this is true to any extent it might explain why lefties consume so many different sources of news.
However, if Lefties really are brighter, then if follows that they will write more, read more, sample more opinions, and have more influence. They will dominate the intellectual landscape, and establish hegemony. My old party card should be knocking about somewhere.
Sadly, the Pew research does not give any intelligence estimates, not even a short Wordsum vocabulary test. This would give us additional data to check whether Lefties really are brighter than everyone else. If Pew has got intelligence estimates for their respondents, please let me know.
For the moment, this is the summary. Lefties find 78% of news outlets to their taste, presumably because the content is provided by Lefties in the first place. They shop around, mostly within the range of political views they accept, but also move out of that range. Lefties prefer their own kind but go further afield. They are more likely to dump politically deviant friends. Solidarity trumps friendship.
Righties find only about 20% of news outlets to their taste, and distrust most of the rest. They have gathered round the campfire of Fox News, and don’t stray far from it. Righties prefer their own kind, and mostly mix only with them. They are less likely to dump friends because of political differences.
Disclaimers: Most of my recent TV interviews have been on the BBC, a few on CNN. No money changes hands. Years ago I got paid for an article in The Guardian. Indeed, The Guardian once asked me to write a letter to the Editor about a clinical services matter, which they published just in time to cause embarrassment at the Conservative Party Conference, resulting in a former Conservative Prime Minister, Ted Heath, ensuring that more funding was available for British “human shields” who had been held by Saddam Hussein. Years later, going into a BBC TV studio on a different news story I chanced to meet him and thanked him for his intervention, saying he probably didn’t remember it. To my surprise Heath stopped in his tracks, nodded in approval, and expostulated “and they are still suffering”.