‘An Especially Amateurish Example of Media Bias’ from CNN

“The Republican Party is split right down the middle between Tea Party movement supporters and those who do not support the two-and-a-half-year-old movement, according to a new national survey,” a Thursday CNN.com “Political Ticker” post asserted in recounting the findings of a CNN/ORC poll which were cited on air by both Wolf Blitzer and John King.

CNN relayed how the survey discovered “roughly half (49 percent) of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they support the tea party movement or are active members, with roughly half (51 percent) saying that they have no feelings one way or another about the tea party or that they oppose the movement.”

In his “Best of the Web Today” compilation on Friday for the Wall Street Journal online, James Taranto wondered: “See the problem?” He explained:

They’re arbitrarily lumping voters who are neutral about the Tea Party with opponents in order to swell the latter’s numbers. One could just as easily write: “An overwhelming 74% of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents either support the Tea Party movement or have no feelings one way or another. Just 26% oppose it.”

Taranto cautioned: “Those numbers, we should add, are hypothetical: The ‘full results’ don't even give the actual breakdown.”)

On air, Wolf Blitzer repeated the slanted formulation, announcing on Thursday’s (September 15) The Situation Room:

A new CNN/ORC International poll is revealing that the GOP is split right down the middle when it come to the blossoming Tea Party movement. According to the survey, 49 percent of those who lean Republican either support the movement or are active members, 51 percent feel indifferent or oppose it all together.

Toward the end of CNN’s next show early Thursday evening, John King USA, the host of the same name reported:

Our new CNN/ORC poll out tonight shows a fascinating divide. A Republican Party split smack right down the middle between those who support the Tea Party and those who don't. Look at this. Forty-nine percent of Republicans and independents who lean Republican either support the Tea Party or are active members. Fifty- one percent of these voters either have no feelings of the Tea Party or oppose the movement.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center