Medheads turn out at University of Washington Tacoma

It was a cold and rainy Monday night, but nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Medved received a warm welcome as the University of Washington Tacoma’s first conservative guest speaker.

Also known as a film critic and best-selling author, Medved was invited to speak by the College Republicans, an organization formed in spring 2002 to bring a conservative voice to the Tacoma campus.

Following a brief introduction by club President Scott Juergens and Vice President Tim Hauck, Medved launched into his topic: why the media and academia are biased left.

Medved, whose daily three-hour radio program emphasizes the intersection of politics and pop culture to more than 1.8 million listeners in 124 markets nationwide, found a receptive audience for his message. (In the Tacoma area, his radio show can be heard Monday through Friday, from noon to 3 p.m., at AM 770 KTTH.)

“In terms of academia, is there any real question?” Medved asked, referring to what he said is an obvious liberal bias in the nation’s major colleges and universities.

Medved cited the fact that according to registration statistics in states where one has to declare a party affiliation, the vast majority of professors identify themselves as Democrats.

Those who identify themselves as Republicans came in a distant second, and often run third behind Green Party adherents, he said.

On average, Democratic professors outnumber Republican professors 10 to 1, Medved stated.

“On some campuses it’s much worse,” he noted. “Whole departments are Republican-free.”

This, he said, leads to a decidedly liberal viewpoint in many of the more interpretive subjects such as English, history and psychology.

Republican professors are better represented in subjects such as mathematics and mechanical engineering, where one can’t teach with a bias, he said, eliciting a laugh from the jam-packed lecture hall.

As for the media, Medved shrugged off recent complaints of a conservative bias in the media by 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, calling it a “Goebbels-like big lie.”

Medved argued that almost all levels of media are dominated by liberals, and complained that critics who say otherwise overstate the influence of the few conservative media outlets such as The Washington Times newspaper and the Fox News Channel.

The Washington Times has a circulation of about 100,000 Medved said. The New York Times has a circulation rate of well over 1 million.

“You’re talking about shows that average less than a million people,” Medved said of Fox News, saying its viewership doesn’t compare with that of the major networks.

“The difference between talk radio and the major networks is that talk radio is clearly partisan,” he said. “People who do what I do don’t pretend not to have a bias.”

And talk radio is where conservatives dominate.

“I think it’s a historical accident,” Medved said, crediting conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh with helping to create the medium.

As for why liberals are overrepresented in the academic world and the media, Medved offered a theory: the temperament of those who enter such professions on average differ from those of conservatives. Liberals, he said, are more likely to go into areas where they can maximize their power and influence over others, in contrast to conservatives, who are more apt to focus on improving their lot in life.

“I would submit there’s a self-selection process going on,” he concluded.

To counter this liberal influence, Medved suggested conservatives donate more money to private universities and not support media outlets that assault their values.

Medved’s presentation included a question and answer session. Following his speech, Medved stayed to talk with audience members and sign copies of various books he has authored.

Medved lives in the Seattle area with his wife, Diane, and their three children.