Taranto: Reuters Flunks Math on "Bellicose" Bush Poll

Over at "Best of the Web," James Taranto has provided another very typical service of his, knocking the bias and inaccuracy at the Reuters wire service. (Trying to find any data on the Internet on the survey "by the Chicago-based National Qualitative Centers" reported below outside this strange Reuters article is tough, although there is this liberal delight from a public-radio station discussion board.) Reports Taranto:

Something is wrong with the arithmetic in this dispatch from Reuters:

President George W. Bush ranks as the least popular and most bellicose of the last ten U.S. presidents, according to a new survey.

Only nine percent of the 662 people polled picked Bush as their favorite among the last 10 presidents. John F. Kennedy topped that part of the survey, with 26 percent, closely followed by Bill Clinton (25 percent) and Ronald Reagan (23 percent).

So let's see if we have this straight: these four presidents combined account for 26% (JFK) plus 23% (Reagan) plus 25% (Clinton) plus 9% (Bush). That's a total of 83%.

Therefore a total of 17% of those surveyed picked one of the remaining six presidents--or, to put it another way, those six presidents scored an average of 2.83%. It's conceivable that one of the six bested Bush's 9%--but no more than one of them could have, which means Bush is at least the fifth most popular of the 10 most recent presidents.

Perhaps it's too much to expect wire-service reporters to have mastered simple arithmetic, but the errors always seem to go in one direction.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis