WaPo, ABC Pay for Poll Question on Bristol Palin's Dancing Skills

It's fair game to discuss whether Bristol Palin arrived at the finals of ABC's Dancing with the Stars on talent alone (instead of being judged with telephone voting). But ABC and The Washington Post were Palin-obsessed enough to actually pay for a poll question on the matter. The headline in Tuesday's paper was "Poll numbers suggest Bristol doesn't have 'Dancing' legs to stand on."  (On the website's homepage, the headline was "Poll: Palin a finalist because of mother.") TV writer Lisa de Moraes announced the public verdict:

Fifty-four percent of Americans think Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol is one of the finalists on "Dancing With the Stars" because of large-scale voting by viewers who support her mother, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News.

Just 14 percent of respondents think Bristol is still in the competition because she is one of this season's best dancers on the show.

An additional 26 percent responded that they had no opinion on the subject. (The remaining respondents cited either "both" reasons or "neither.")  

...Among those who think Bristol is still dancing on the show because of large-scale support for Sarah, they were asked whether that was a good-enough reason for Bristol to have survived to the final week. "Not good enough," responded 68 percent of the people: "Good enough," responded 26 percent, while 6 percent had no opinion.

Online, LDM's article actually rehashed the finale's contents from Monday night. But the paper only cared about the poll numbers. ABC and the Post did not limit the poll to people who told them they had actually ever watched Palin's daughter on the program. It was a random sample. So the "sampling error" also has a "non-viewing error" in it:

The Washington Post-ABC News telephone poll was conducted this past Sunday - five days after show host Tom Bergeron announced that Bristol would be one of this week's finalists and pop singer Brandy Norwood had been booted from the competition. Brandy's outster prompted some members in the studio audience - a vocal bunch of fans who don't hesitate to shout out how they feel about, for instance, the judges' scoring - to begin to boo.

The poll was conducted among a random national sample of 514 adults, and interviews were conducted on conventional phones and cellphones. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.  

It's not unfair to insist Palin's daughter wouldn't be in the finals without support from her mother's fans. It would be silly to insist Palin's daughter would be on this show at all without her mother. But the Post's anti-Palin feelings are showing. Can you imagine ABC and the Post paying for a poll question asking whether Chelsea Clinton's talents landed her a six-figure job?

The Post's bias also showed inside the Style section on Tuesday, where they illustrated a Michael Cavna story on left-wing Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker winning the National Press Foundation's Berryman award for editorial cartooning with a dated cartoon of "Palinstein" getting away from mad scientist McCain and trampling the "Big Tent" of the GOP.

 

 

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