Undercover Economist: In search of hard facts about media bias

In the last days of the British election campaign, The Sun depicted David Cameron in the style of Shepard Fairey’s iconic image of Barack Obama, and claimed that Labour would, if elected, ban topless models on page three. (The topless models problem was doubtless just about to rise to the top of Labour’s agenda after 13 years.) The Mirror showed the Conservative leader in the costume of the quintessential posh-boy society, the Bullingdon Club, with “his chum Boris Johnson and all the other yahoos of the tuck shop”. The Times chose a photograph of Cameron looking wise, wistful, strong yet compassionate. The Guardian, which endorsed the Liberal Democrats, nevertheless handed a chunk of its front page to columnist Polly Toynbee, who in reporting Gordon Brown’s last-gasp revival with “a whisper of hope, a prayer” thoroughly erased the distinction between her emotions and those of the Labour party faithful she was interviewing.

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