In 2007, MediaMatters did an extensive survey of conservative voices in American newspapers. While this may sound like old news, the fact is, that Twitter and other social media are making it possible to excite people about information that was published, but never got much traction with the media–or the public.  It's making many old things new again.  Consistent with Shoq Value, I will often promote many of these important facts and documents on this site. Read the report.


This project did something that has never been done before: It amassed data on the syndicated columnists published by nearly every daily newspaper in the country. While a few publications, most notably Editor & Publisher, cover the syndicated newspaper industry, no one has attempted to comprehensively assemble this information prior to now. Because the syndicates refuse to reveal to the public exactly where their columnists are published, when Media Matters for America set out to make a systematic assessment of the syndicated columnist landscape, we had no choice but to contact each paper individually and ask which syndicated columnists are published on their op-ed pages. The results show that in paper after paper, state after state, and region after region, conservative syndicated columnists get more space than their progressive counterparts. As Editor & Publisher para- phrased one syndicate executive noting, “U.S. dailies run more conservative than liberal columns, but some are willing to consider liberal voices.”1 Though papers may be “willing to consider” progressive syndicated columnists, this unprecedented study reveals the true extent of the dominance of conservatives:

  • 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.
  • In 38 states, the conservative voice is greater than the progressive voice — in other words, conservative columns reach more readers in total than progressive columns. In only 12 states is the progressive voice greater than the conservative voice.
  • In three out of the four broad regions of the country — the West, the South, and the Midwest — conservative syndicated columnists reach more readers than progressive syndicated columnists. Only in the Northeast do progressives reach more readers, and only by a margin of 2 percent.
  • In eight of the nine divisions into which the U.S. Census Bureau divides the country, conservative syndicated columnists reach more readers than progressive syndicated columnists in any given week. Only in the Middle Atlantic division do progressive columnists reach more readers each week.

Though they have suffered slow but steady declines in readership over the last couple of decades, newspapers remain in many ways the most important of all news media. The Newspaper Association of America estimates that each copy of a weekday paper is read by an average of 2.1 adults, while each Sunday paper is read by an average of 2.5 adults,3 pushing total newspaper readership for daily papers to more than 116 million and Sunday papers to more than 134 million. This means that some columnists reach tens of millions of readers, and one, conservative George Will, actually reaches more than 50 million. Read The  Full report.

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" (@JoeNBC) this morning (7/24/09), we saw the most inexcusable health industry propaganda get voiced without any comment or correction whatsoever by at least four pundits on the set. In a segment with Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), the Republican congressman quoted dubious research on Health Care reform produced by the Lewin Group. As we have learned all week, Lewin is owned by United Health Group, one of the nation's largest insurers. Yet despite this well publicized fact, Mike Barnicle, who obviously knew the truth about Lewin, twice asks Price "Who funds?" the Lewin group. Price appeared nervous and stumbling, no doubt because he knew he was about to be busted for trying to repeat a discredited source. He can only manage to awkwardly blurt out that Lewin is a "non partisan research organization." Shocking to any informed person watching, Mike Barnicle just lets this pass. He never follows up on why he kept asking Congressman Price who funds the Lewin Group.  He just lets the sensational (and erroneous) "research fact" (which absurdly claimed that 100 million Americans will be automatically moved from a private to a public health care program) stand, without informing viewers about what so many already know about Lewin. Next on camera, @CarlosWatson, whose facial expression reveals that he knows what a whopper was just told; but, he also chooses to let it go by—but not without a validating "thanks" to the other GOP Congressman appearing with Price (Dave Camp (R), for "outlining those 3 points about as clear as I've heard anyone from that side of the aisle do it." It is almost a certainty that Watson, @morningMika and the the rest of the Morning Joe "cast" knew the real story (because Washpost, Huffpost, @DavidShuster, Ed Schultz, Twitter and many others have covered it repeatedly all week.) This incident is a perfect illustration of how the right's noise machine is fooling the American people all over again, using easily debunked lies and misinformation, and how this very kind of irresponsible broadcasting—which they so often pretend is "journalism"—is empowering them to do it. So in the final weeks of what may be the last Health Care fight for another 40 years, will America's bloggers—so often touted as the only remnant of a Fourth Estate we have left—hold MSNBC (and much of the MSM) accountable for this kind of propaganda enabling, using it to illustrate just how the deck is stacked against truth tellling? We shall see.