Max Boot, the Wall Street Journal, and liberal media bias

Today’s kerfuffle in Politico about whether Max Boot stole material from a fellow right-wing football fanatic for an op-ed in support of permanent brain damage reminded me of one of the more absurd aspects of Tim Groseclose’s absurd approach to proving “liberal media bias.”

Boot, you see, is at the Council on Foreign Relations, which (along with RAND) Groseclose counts as a “liberal think tank” because liberal Members of Congress like to cite it. So when the Wall Street Journal solicited and published Boot’s pro-football rant (whether or not it was original), it reinforced its position in Groseclose’s alternative universe as a liberally biased news source.* Wrong! See update below.

No, really. You can’t make this stuff up.

And the QJE, Megan McArdle, and Tyler Cowen should all be embarrassed about having been bamboozled.

*Update Megan points out that Boot’s op-ed piece wouldn’t have counted in Groseclose’s scoring system, which looked at only citations to news stories. That completely undercuts this specific example. But the same would have been true if a reporter for the WSJ had quoted Boot about the importance of invading Syria; because Boot is at CFR – as the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow – and because liberals in Congress cite CFR reports, that would have been an instance of “liberal bias” in the media.

Just to clarify: Of course I think that the average “objective” news story (as that term is defined by the community of reporters, editors, and media critics) is written from a perspective to the left of Megan’s or Tyler’s (and to the right of Paul Wellstone’s, or, on average, even mine). There’s a good book to be written about that. Groseclose didn’t write it.