OODA loops and media bias

Nathan Smith
Insights Newsletter
30 October, 2020

As US military strategist John Boyd said about his “OODA loop” theory (observe, orient, decide, act), if one’s orientation is out by just a millimetre, the entire strategy fails.

A new site called mediabias.co.nz measures the political bias of New Zealand news services and it shows those worried about media bias are worried about the wrong thing. Their OODA loop is off.

The site uses machine learning to find a name of a politician, check the nearby words, judge their meaning and then apply a number. It’s not perfect. But judging media bias has been notoriously difficult since it requires a neutral point, and there isn’t one.

The site’s creator James Diprose says his tool’s results are experimental and outlets like Stuff have more articles in the pot (13,826) than smaller sites like Interest.co.nz (683). But there are patterns.

For instance, blog sites The Standard and The Daily Blog lean heavily left. The BFD (a revamp of WhaleOil) and Kiwiblog are more right leaning. For the digital newspapers (as opposed to blogs), the NZ Herald is closest to the centre – although still leaning left – while Newshub is furthest to the left – but still relatively centre.

What does this tell us?

The first observation is that if 13 of the 15 major news sites are left-leaning, is it even proper to call that a bias anymore? Even with a clear left bias, those on the political left will still bemoan that media is too conservative. What gives? Something else is going on.

This tool proves that complaining about left bias in media is like being surprised that there are gamblers in a casino. Since journalists are the result of a cradle-to-grave progressive education system, their opinions will naturally be progressive.

After all, public opinion on every issue in 2020 is really, really far to the political left compared with 1920 which can only be a result of generations of education. This means public opinion on any subject slowly shifts towards the opinions of those who write and explain a subject to the public. It’s not rocket science.

In other words, media is left because those who teach journalists are left. Schools, academia and media are part of the same democratic machine to direct and control public opinion.

If this is a problem, then solving it with a good OODA loop requires locating the problem as in the education system, not the editorial pages.

I understand this just made the task enormously daunting. Much simpler to complain about media bias instead.


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