Keith Olbermann Misrepresents CNN Poll to Tie Sarah Palin to Tucson Shootings

On Monday, Keith Olbermann cherry-picked a Daily Kos/PPP poll to bash the Tea Party as a violent threat to America's elected officials.

On the following day's "Countdown," the MSNBCer misrepresented an Opinion Research/CNN poll to tie Sarah Palin to the Tucson shootings (video follows with transcript and commentary):

KEITH OLBERMANN: According to new polling out this week, nearly half of Americans think that harsh and violent political rhetoric was indeed to blame at least in part for the tragedy in Tucson, and more than half think it could easily cause a similar shooting in the future. In our third story, this puts a magnifying glass on the past rhetoric of several Republicans dipping their toes in the 2012 presidential pool. And if what we saw last night is any indication, it could take more than Sean Hannity to scrub the record.

Respondents to the Opinion Research/CNN poll were asked to assign degrees of blame to different factors leading up to the massacre. 35 percent thought Mrs. Palin’s infamous target map was a factor; 44 percent did not. A lack of resources for mental health care was identified as a big culprit, 70 percent said so. Asked about the use of harsh rhetoric and violent metaphors by politicians and commentators leading up to Tucson, the number was essentially split 48-49. But asked if harsh or violent discourse would quote “cause a future incident similar to the shootings in Arizona,” 54 percent said it was either very or somewhat likely.

Unlike Monday's disgraceful cherry-pick, what Olbermann and Company did Tuesday was play fast and loose with the data to make it seem that the number of folks that didn't feel Palin's map was a factor in the Tucson shootings was less than what the poll in question actually found.

Question 19 of the survey asked, "Overall, how much do you blame each of the following for the shooting in Arizona – a great deal, a moderate amount, not much, or not at all?"

Here were some of the responses:

What Olbermann and Company did for the Palin option was add the "Great deal" responses to the "Moderate amount" ones to come up with 35 percent.

However, the "44 percent did not" comprised only those that said "Not at all." The "Not much" category was completely ignored.

As those familiar with poll reporting are well aware, if you're going to include "Moderate amount" with the "Yes" answers, it is customary to include the "Not much" replies with the "Nos".

What this means is Olbermann, if he was trying to be honest - I know that's a real stretch for this shill! - should have reported this datum, "35 percent thought Mrs. Palin’s infamous target map was a factor; 59 percent did not."

If he wasn't going to include the in-between responses, he should have said, "19 percent thought Mrs. Palin’s infamous target map was a factor; 44 percent did not."

I guess Olbermann didn't want his audience to know just how much respondents to this poll disagreed with him and the rest of the liberal media, especially those on MSNBC.

As further evidence of the intentional duplicity here, in the result Olbermann cited concerning the use of harsh rhetoric and violent metaphors by politicians and commentators, "Great deal" and "Moderate amount" were added together as were "Not much" and "Not at all."

Olbermann also included the "Moderate amount" total in what he reported were the number of people that felt a lack of resources for mental health was the culprit for the shootings.

And, as the "Countdown" host noted in the datum concerning the possibility of violent rhetoric causing a future incident, "54 percent said it was either very or somewhat likely."

As such, and quite hypocritically, only Palin's "Not much" numbers were omitted from Olbermann's report.

Since this follows the "Countdown" host cherry-picking a different poll on Monday to bash the Tea Party as a violent threat to elected officials, one has to wonder whether MSNBC has any standards concerning the accurate reporting of data by its commentators.

Are folks like Olbermann free to cherry-pick and misrepresent anything they want with total impunity as long as it advances this network's political agenda?

Assuming the answer to this question is "No," one has to wonder if there are any disciplinary actions for offenders.

On the other hand, if the answer is "Yes," why does MSNBC get to refer to itself as a news network?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.