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Sharyl Attkisson: Charting media bias, 2017 Edition

Written By | May 1, 2017

Picturing media bias. (Portion of an online chart via

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2017 – Sharyl Attkisson has become well known in recent years as a generally liberal CBS News reporter who resigned from her position at that network (perhaps under pressure) out of frustration at the news division’s unabashed bias favoring the Obama administration.

Attkisson also alleged that her computer had been routinely hacked in 2012, blaming this invasion of privacy on elements of the Department of Justice (DOJ), to the point of filing a lawsuit in 2015 against former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder and others in the Federal government.

Currently an independent op and a frequent critic of media bias and lack of objectivity, Attkisson still seems most comfortable at least moderately left of center when it comes to politics. Yet her recent experiences have made her far more of a skeptic than most current reporters and news readers, giving both her books and reportage some serious weight.

In an April piece appearing on her website, Attkisson posted an interesting chart, based on several sources, that illustrates the current state of media bias, as best it can be defined, noting

“The following is a subjective chart based on information compiled from various sources.

“Please note that outlets on left and right sometimes publish material that’s on the opposite side of the political spectrum, or that has no political leaning at all. The placement is based on perceived overall tone and audience.”

Reproduction of media bias chart via

The original source for the chart Attkisson has assembled was derived from a listing posted via the nationally obscure Lorain County Community College, which is located in the northern Ohio county near Cleveland where I grew up long ago. That list, in turn, is cited as coming from a document entitled “Project Censored [:] 2013,” which is apparently the work of Micca Gray (and possibly others) of Santa Rosa Junior College.

My attempt to link to the Santa Rosa Junior College document to verify the information was blocked. Access apparently requires approval – something not uncommon on research sites.

It’s intriguing that such fairly objective research on political journalism should have surfaced via a pair of community colleges in disparate areas of the country neither known for their friendliness to conservatives, nor known as centers of scholarship.

That’s not a slap at either community college. While what we have via the Lorain County Community College site is “deep” scholarship, it’s nonetheless information we’re not accustomed to seeing on, say, Ivy League websites. This may indicate that objective scholarly information may be more readily available at U.S. institutions of higher learning whose tuition and fees don’t require taking out a second or third mortgage.

It’s also remarkable to me that Attkisson actually dug out information via these sources, indicating that she, too, is far more enterprising and creative than today’s average, overpaid, run-of-the-mill “investigative reporter” when searching for source material. Perhaps that’s at the core of her departure from CBS, a network that’s hardly known these days for the pursuit of objective and unbiased truth.

Regarding Attkisson’s chart itself, based on real life experience, I have a few quibbles with some of the periodical placements, particularly those periodicals that are pictured straddling the center line.

  • UPI, now owned by the Washington Times team tilts slightly right and is not center line.
  • On the other hand, Real Clear Politics, particularly when it comes to consolidated polling data, is generally left of center.
  • The Economist (UK) may seem slightly right of center, since it’s a business oriented periodical. However, politically, its reportage and editorial line has been far-Eurostyle-left for many years now.
  • Like most of today’s phony fact-checking sites, pretends to objectivity but is clearly in the left-wing camp, which generally questions any fact pushed by Republicans but lets any left-wing fact through its gates with a double-plus good stamp of approval. Not surprisingly, the site is strongly influenced by hard-left Obama pal Bill Ayers.

Mostly, however, the current iteration of Attkisson’s chart hits the mark. Further, she does invite comments and perhaps even a bit of revisionism as to the chart’s current shape and composition. So check out the original for a more easy-to-read copy and weigh in with your opinion.

In the meantime, the chart offers a pretty decent template for figuring out whether today’s “fake news” is faking out your side or the other side.


Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17