Tucker Carlson and Steve Doocy are easily convinced of "liberal bias"

Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

Tucker Carlson visited Fox & Friends yesterday to tout a "study" released by the National Association of Scholars, which concluded that, in Steve Doocy's words, "the majority of books on college summer reading lists lean to the left. And boy do they." From the segment:

DOOCY: All right. According to this outfit, 70 percent of the summer reading books at 290 colleges, 70 percent, have a liberal bias.

CARLSON: Oh, absolutely. And just to be completely clear, these are mandatory reads. These are either all school reads, books that everyone has to read, or they're freshman -assigned books. So these are not books you read if you sign up for certain classes. These are books you have to read. [This is false, by the way]

The largest category, fully 60 books, is racism and multiculturalism. The second largest category, at 27 books is the environment, and the third largest category is Islam. Only 6 books out of hundreds surveyed in this study were described as quote, classics. Only 6. Total. So it tells you right there, just by the categories you know the political orientation.

According to Carlson, "you know" a book has a liberal "political orientation" if it is about "multiculturalism" or "the environment" or "Islam." If only there were some common expression that warned against such reasoning.

Two questions that Fox & Friends didn't answer: 1. Who is the National Association of Scholars? And 2. How did they conduct their study?

NAS is a group that "oppose[s] racial, gender, and other group preferences" and "regard[s] the Western intellectual heritage as the indispensable foundation of American higher education." They've also taken a stand against sustainability efforts on college campuses. NAS is of course entitled to choose these battles, promote its views of what a college education should be, and try to get national press coverage of those views. But being a news organization, Fox should tell us where NAS is coming from when they're feeding us the NAS study, particularly because its results depend so greatly upon the viewpoints of those conducting it.

Without defining the terms "liberal political agenda" or "conservative sensibility," NAS concluded that 70 percent of the 180 books assigned at 290 colleges "either explicitly promote a liberal political agenda or advance a liberal interpretation of events"; that only three books "promote a conservative sensibility"; and that none "promote[s] conservative political causes." NAS spokeswoman Ashley Thorne confirmed that they used no rubric or criteria to reach these conclusions. She also said they did not read the entirety of the books. Rather, they "examined each book one-by-one and looked at what each one was about," and consulted summaries and reviews.

Emphasizing that "the liberal-conservative breakdown was not our main finding or main intention in looking at these" (though the "liberal" finding is the first mentioned in the report and press release), Thorne said she could not provide a list of the books that were determined to promote liberal views. So how can you assess whether their evaluations are fair? You can't.

This is not a rigorous or objective analysis. Indeed, I can't think of any research design that would be able to reasonably categorize the "political orientation" of 180 varied books, many of which don't appear to explicitly espouse a political or policy agenda.

But these are not questions that trouble Fox News. This is, after all, a network that looks at a book documenting the horrifying experiences of a Honduran boy passing through Mexico and into the United States -- written by a journalist who reportedly discusses the immigration debate "in stark terms that will not please either side" -- and comes up with this:

Enrique's Journey: Promotes open borders

From the June 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

Fox News Channel
Tucker Carlson, Steve Doocy
FOX & Friends
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