Exhibit 1-1: The Media Elite

In 1981, S. Robert Lichter, then with George Washington University, and Stanley Rothman of Smith College, released a groundbreaking survey of 240 journalists at top media outlets — including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS — on their political attitudes and voting patterns. The data showed journalists hold liberal positions on a wide range of social and political issues. Lichter and Rothman's book, The Media Elite, became the most widely quoted media study of the 1980s.


  • More than four-fifths of the journalists interviewed voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every election between 1964 and 1976.

  • 'Fifty-four percent placed themselves to the left of center, compared to only 19 percent who chose the right side of the spectrum,' Lichter and Rothman's survey of journalists discovered"

  • 'Fifty-six percent said the people they worked with were mostly on the left, and only 8 percent on the right — a margin of seven-to-one.'

  • Nearly half of the journalists surveyed agreed that 'the very structure of our society causes people to feel alienated,' while the authors found 'five out of six believe our legal system mainly favors the wealthy.'

  • 30 percent disagreed that 'private enterprise is fair to workers;' 28 percent agreed that 'all political systems are repressive.'

  • 54 percent did not regard adultery as wrong, compared to only 15 percent who regarded it as wrong.

  • 'Ninety percent agree that a woman has the right to decide for herself whether to have an abortion; 79 percent agree strongly with this pro-choice position.'

  • Majorities of journalists agreed with the statements: 'U.S. exploits Third World, causes poverty' (56 percent); and 'U.S. use of resources immoral' (57 percent). Three-fourths disagreed that the 'West had helped Third World.'

Previously: Early Polls of Journalists, 1962-1985
Next: Exhibit 1-2: Major Newspaper Reporters

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