Media bias often shows itself in which organizations journalists choose to cite or ignore. A very prevalent form of this bias is selective reporting on polling data--polls that show results friendly to the liberal position like are touted while those that show the opposite are buried.
MSNBC's Chuck Todd, pictured right, is the latest reporter to demonstrate such a bias. He took Rasmussen Reports to task on Twitter yesterday, claiming it is "has a horrible track record and us [sic] proven to be unreliable" and is really "[n]ot a serious polling firm." Todd said he would only report on "numbers from a more reliable pollster."
Apparently one such pollster, in the mind of Todd's cable network at least, is Research 2000. But R2K was recently rated one of the least reliable major polling firms in existence by liberal statistician Nate Silver. R2K was not even accurate enough for the Daily Kos, which officially dropped the firm on Wednesday.
CNN tried to downplay poll results it released on Wednesday which indicated continuing opposition to ObamaCare, while emphasizing how the poll also found "growing support" for the President's call for increased federal regulation of the financial institutions. The network and its partners at Opinion Research also took two weeks to publish the results of only two questions from the poll.
Catching up on an item from ABC’s The View from Monday, April 26, as the group discussed the new immigration law in Arizona that attempts to enforce federal immigration law, co-host Joy Behar invoked Nazi Germany and suggested that those who oppose the law should be inspired by the story – which is apparently just a legend – of King Christian X of Denmark and other Danes wearing the Star of David on their arms during World War II to make it difficult for Nazi occupiers to discern who was Jewish. After making her first Nazi reference of the day by asserting that "this smells very much of, ‘May I see your papers?’" she soon continued:
During World War II, in one of the countries where the Nazis were occupying – I believe it was Denmark – the king of Denmark also wore the Jewish star. So then everybody had the star, and the Nazis did not know who was Jewish and who wasn't. I suggest that the people in Arizona all get out there and protest this and get some kind of thing to show that they don't like this.
After co-host Barbara Walters pointed out that 70 percent of the people of Arizona "like" the new law, Behar looked for a silver lining in the poll numbers:
While Republicans were the most supportive, a full 45 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents polled supported the law. When broken down to the particulars of the bill, there was even broader support. For example, 65 percent of Democrats and and 73 percent of independents favored "requiring people to produce documents verifying legal status," the portion of the bill that has been derided as allowing the police to demand, "your papers please!"
These poll numbers are absolutely astounding, especially considering the media's non-stop campaign to denounce the law and paint it in an unfavorable light. Yet true to form, the media continue to downplay the results. A search this morning of the Web pages for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and USA Today found no links to articles about the poll numbers.
It doesn't seem like this exercise should be that tough.
The government issues Daily Treasury Statements telling everybody what went in and out on a given business day. At the end of the month, the last Daily Treasury Statement has a record (admittedly jumbled and larded with lots of bureaucratic excess) of all receipts and disbursements for the month.
The folks at the Congressional Budget Office look over the final Daily Treasury Statement and estimate what the totals for receipts and disbursements (or "outlays") will be. The difference, obviously, is their estimate of the month's reported deficit. The only remaining items should be error corrections (if any), or accounting entries resulting from the government's ill-advised choice to account for "investments" in banks, car companies, and other entities on a "net present value" basis.
On the eighth business day of the following month, the Treasury Department releases its Monthly Treasury Statement.
On Friday, the CBO estimated that the April's deficit would be $85 billion. The press (as covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) virtually ignored its report. That's bad enough, but when reporters went out to economists for deficit estimates, their predictions were significantly lower. For starters, here's what the Associated Press carried this morning:
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, working for its project partner the Associated Press, conducted a poll from March 3-8 about Americans' car preferences and perceptions. The poll's results were released earlier this week, and the wire service's Dan Sewell reported on the results yesterday.
Why the 40-day delay? I'll suggest the possibility that the poll was timed in hopes that the detailed results would hurt and humiliate Toyota at the height of its safety recall problems. But just as the poll was completed, Toyota revealed that its sales had rebounded dramatically, while the evidence that the expense of a full recall was necessary had seriously weakened under closer examination (the degree of need is separate from the issue of whether the company notified the government of the possible problem, concerning which the company has apparently agreed to pay a stiff fine).
Further, the poll's detailed results contradict AP reporter Sewell's sunny-side up contention that American carmakers in general have improved their perceived quality. It's really only a certain American carmaker, as the graphic coming later will show.
But first, here are the opening paragraphs from Sewell's sterilized statements:
“Fifty-five percent (55%) of U.S. voters continue to think that media bias is a bigger problem in politics today than big campaign contributions, identical to the finding in August 2008,” Rasmussen Reports found in a survey of 1,000 “likely voters” released on Tuesday.
Suggesting that perception of bias is of liberal bias, Rasmussen determined “sixty-eight percent (68%) of Republicans and 62% of unaffiliated voters say media bias is the bigger problem in politics, a view shared by just 37% of Democrats. The plurality (46%) of Democrats says campaign contributions are a bigger problem.”
Was Gayle King kvetching about polls when candidate, then President, Obama and the Dems were riding high? Doubt it. But now that tide has turned, King pooh-poohs polls, and even asked Mika Brzezinski not to read one on the air. But never fear, "every time he speaks I get inspired all over again" proclaimed the editor of Oprah Winfrey's O magazine.
King's hear-no-evil moment went down on today's Morning Joe, as Mika was about to read a poll showing a preference for Republicans in the generic congressional ballot.
On Wednesday, both NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America exclusively cited the latest Gallup/USA Today poll, which shows significantly more public support for ObamaCare than other recent polls. Both programs failed to mention several polls that continued to show public opposition to the massive legislation.
NBC Today co-host Meredith Vieira used the Gallup poll to grill Republican Senator Jim DeMint, suggesting the tide of public opinion had turned in favor of the bill: "by a margin of nine percent, Americans say it was a good thing that Congress passed this bill. Half describe their reaction as enthusiastic or pleased. 48 percent called the bill a good first step. So who is out of touch with the public? The Democrats or the Republicans?" DeMint replied: "we would expect hype with – with all the hype and propaganda – that we would get a bump....I don't think the anger's gonna go away. I think you're gonna see it continue to build."
On Good Morning America, fill-in co-host Bill Weir noted the poll after Democratic strategist James Carville touted it: "The new USA Today Gallup poll say 50 percent, or just under, 49 percent, say passing this bill is a good thing. 40 percent call it a bad thing." Weir then turned to Republican strategist Kevin Madden and wondered: "Those who are opposed to it, though, are very angry. Will that be enough? Will there be enough steam left in that anger come November?"
At the top of Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed the passage of ObamaCare: "A major victory for President Obama as House Democrats work late into the night to pass health care reform." A headline on screen read: "Historic Victory."
Co-host Maggie Rodriguez later introduced a report on the legislation by remarking that Smith, who was pleased with his NCAA March Madness bracket picks, was "not the only one who's happy this morning. So is President Obama." She went on to declare: "We begin with Congress's historic passage of health care reform late last night." Rodriguez recited ObamaCare talking points: "Now under this law...insurance companies will not be allowed to drop your coverage if you get sick. There will be no cap on lifetime insurance benefits and you can keep your children on your health insurance through the age of 26. Also, coverage will be available for uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions."
In the report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes began by describing the "sense of relief for Democrats," in the wake of the bill's passage. The on-screen headline read: "Historic Vote; Health Care Reform Passes; Heads to Obama's Desk."
By a 12 point margin, those asked, in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, called “Barack Obama’s health care plan” a “bad idea” (48 percent) over a “good idea” (36 percent.) Yet, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Tuesday evening skipped that verdict as he declared “people are evenly split” on “the President’s health care reform plan.” From the accompanying graphic, viewers could learn Williams was referring to what people say about enacting it: “pass” (46 percent) vs “don’t pass” (45 percent).
The actual question presented a stark alternative of endorsing the status quo: “Do you think it would be better to pass Barack Obama’s health care plan and make its changes to the health care system or to not pass this plan and keep the current health care system?” Yet the one-point gap was the closest-ever in the poll as “better to not pass this plan, keep current system” grew to 45 percent from 39 percent last September, a trend neither Williams nor Chuck Todd pointed out.
Williams did highlight how “most people tell us they don’t approve of the way President Obama has handled the health care issue, but,” he couldn’t resist adding, “they disapprove of how Republicans in Congress have handled it by an even wider margin.” (This post updated below with response from Todd.)
One thing you can say about the Apparatchik Press -- er, the Associated Press -- is that it's leaving no stone unturned in its attempt to prop up their guy Barack Obama.
In the tenth paragraph of an AP report today by Ben Feller on President Obama's stack of priorities ("For Obama, big agenda and small window for results"), the wire service's Ben Feller bitterly clings to an AP-GfK Roper poll result that is sharply at variance with others, and assumes that it gives Obama a level of clout that doesn't exist outside the grounds of the White House:
Obama has a key edge in setting the agenda: public approval. His job-performance rating is holding mainly steady at 53 percent, while a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds that fewer people approve of Congress - a mere 22 percent - than at any point in Obama's presidency.
Well, of course his approval is 53% in AP-GfK la-la land. The poll's sample, as you can see at the top right (found at Page 31 of the 42-page PDF, consisted of 33% declared Democrats and 23% declared Republicans.
Earlier this afternoon, NB's Tim Graham noted how NPR's Robert Siegel and Pew Research pollster Andrew Kohut spoke approvingly of "Millennials" as being "less 'militaristic' and less religious" than their elders.
At end of his post, Graham noted that Siegel and Kohut "somehow" forgot to discuss the key political finding in the poll, namely that the demographic's 32-point favoritism towards Democrats (62% to 30%) has declined by more than half (to 54% to 40%) in just one year of living in Obamaland. Shoot, if that trend continues for another nine months, it will be almost all even by Election Day in November.
Surveys over the past 30 years have consistently found top journalists are much more liberal than the rest of America. At the same time, public opinion polls show Americans see the media as politically biased, inaccurate and an obstacle to solving society’s problems. The numbers document a credibility crisis for journalism that only a swift move towards professionalism and fairness can fix.
The MRC has now created a one-stop online resource, “Media Bias 101,” detailing more than 40 surveys revealing journalists’ liberal opinions and the public’s attitudes about bias. The report also contains page after page of quotes from top reporters discussing media bias — most denying the problem, but some admitting it.
In a story primarily about President Obama's plan to campaign on behalf of incumbent Democratic senators in Nevada and Colorado, Washington Times reporter Joseph Curl did not name Colorado Senator Michael Bennet's opponent.
That oversight would ordinarily be defensible if the Bennet's primary competitor were polling weakly. But he is most decidedly not, at least where it ultimately counts -- in general election match-ups against the current Republican primary front-runner.
Give the New York Times points for nerve, anyway. Chief political reporter Adam Nagourney managed to take the paper's new poll, full of bad news for President Obama and Democrats, and to change the subject, twisting the findings to suggest that Republicans were the party in trouble, in Friday's front page story: “Obama Fares Better in Poll Than G.O.P." The online headline is similar: "Obama Has Edge Over G.O.P. With Public."
Nagourney, with co-writer Megan Thee-Brenan, entirely passed over several interesting tidbits from the poll (you can read a .PDF version here) which reflected badly on the prospects of Obama and the Democrats. The negative stuff that was brought to light was buried, while positive but irrelevant trends for Obama were placed up high, in paragraph three.
That's where Nagourney gave Obama credit for being on the popular side of the issue of gays serving openly in the military, an issue that wasn't even on the national agenda before Obama's State of the Union address two weeks ago. Meanwhile, deep public opposition to Obama's long-time signature issue -- his health care plan -- wasn't addressed until paragraph 10, and then only lightly.
Touting the latest CBS News/New York Times poll on Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer concluded that Americans were upset with President Obama and Congress simply over the influence of "special interest groups," without mentioning massive government spending or ObamaCare as other possible reasons.
After reporting that 70% of Americans were "dissatisfied or angry about the way things are going in Washington," Smith focused on the poll question about special interests: "8 in 10 say Congress is more interested in serving the needs of special interest groups rather than the people they represent." Schieffer explained: "In order to raise that money you've got to sign off on so many special interest groups before you get to Washington that it's very difficult to compromise once you do get here."
However, neither Smith nor Schieffer brought up the part of the poll that showed the desire by a majority of Americans for smaller government: "59% of Americans think the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals....56% would choose a smaller government providing fewer services over a bigger government providing more services, up from 48% last spring and the highest percentage in more than a decade."
Salon columnist Max Blumenthal continues to get flak for his slanderous, factually-challenged hit piece on conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe last week. The column, premised on a host of omissions and baseless assumptions, contended that O'Keefe's is a racist.
Blumenthal's latest critic is Columbia Journalism Review, Old Media's paragon of journalistic elitism. CJR has requested that he correct but one of the many errors that comprise his column.
But CJR really has a problem, it seems, that Blumenthal has given ammunition to critics who claim Old Media is rife with liberal bias. CJR contributor Greg Marx lamented that Blumenthal and other quasi-journalists, in ignoring facts to support their agendas,give "ready-made ammunition for that broader campaign."
A poll conducted last week by Public Policy Polling found that among 1,151 registered voters surveyed, Fox News Channel crushed the other networks in trust, with 49 percent of respondents saying they trusted FNC. That's 10 percentage points more than CNN, and 14 points more than MSNBC, the home of Obama-boosting or leftist personalities such as Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz.
The survey-related quote comes from a post at PPP's blog. Tom Jensen, its author, pecked in quite a presumptuous final paragraph there (italics are Jensen's):
These numbers suggest quite a shift in what Americans want from their news. A generation ago Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in the country because of his neutrality. Now people trust Fox the most precisely because of its lack of neutrality. It says a lot about where journalism is headed.
Huh? Surely this must be simply a rogue PPP staffer's uninformed rant. Uh, no. At Politico's coverage of the poll, reporter Andy Barr quoted PPP's President making this putrid pronouncement about what the poll results putatively personify:
On Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer twisted the meaning of a recent Washington Post poll on the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts: “Three-fourths of those voters...said they wanted Brown to work with Democrats to get Republican ideas into legislation....the vote for Brown was not so much a vote for or against policy or party, as it was a vote against the process itself.”
Schieffer seemed to completely ignore the fact that the poll showed 65% of those who voted for Brown did so to “express opposition to the Democratic agenda in Washington.” Instead, Schieffer tried to spin the data as evidence that voters were upset with both parties: “People don’t like the political games....if the two sides could somehow pay less attention to the voices on the fringes of the Left and the Right, take the Massachusetts voters’ advice, sit down together and see what they can agree on, who knows? They might get something done.”
At the top of his commentary, Schieffer pretended that the meaning of Brown’s extraordinary win was uncertain, rather than a rebuke of the Democratic Party: “Figuring out what Scott Brown’s victory meant has set off a fiercer debate than trying to divine the meaning of the Book of Job. We were all certain it meant something profound, we just weren’t sure what.”
It is a strange paradigm among much of the mainstream media that plummeting poll numbers are of far greater import for Republicans than they are for Democrats. That, at least, is the logical conclusion of the relative silence of major media outlets on the steep decline in President Obama's poll numbers compared with the decline in President Bush's.
According to an Allstate/National Journal poll released Wednesday, 50 percent of Americans would vote against President Obama if the presidential elections were held today. Only 39 percent say they would vote to re-elect the president.
But so far, this stunning development--given the President's sky-high approval ratings upon entering office--has gone seemingly unnoticed by the major television networks and most prominent print publications. Aside from some prominent blogs (whose coverage is by no means substandard), the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Washington Examiner are so far the only major outlets to report on the poll, according to a google news search (as of 2:00 PM).
A new survey from Scott Rasmussen finds that more than half of all voters (51%) believe "the average reporter is more liberal than they are," and two-thirds (67%) think the media have "too much power and influence over government decisions."
Rasmussen's poll was released Thursday. Perhaps proving the point, on Friday, MSNBC anchor Savannah Guthrie reacted to polls showing the Democrats losing ground in Massachusetts by exclaiming: "This is bad." According to Rasmussen: "Only 20% of all voters say most reporters try to offer unbiased coverage of a political campaign. Seventy-two percent (72%) say most reporters try to help the candidate they want to win."
On Friday, New York Times reporter Abby Goodnough described the surprise struggles of Mass. Democrat Martha Coakley, once considered a shoo-in to fill the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy, but now facing a strong challenge from Republican Scott Brown: "In Massachusetts, Surprise Anxiety for Favored Democrats."
Goodnough's hook was a Rasmussen Reports poll showing Brown within nine points of Coakley. But she emphasized that "many news organizations dispute its methodology." Yet Rasmussen called the 2008 election with far greater accuracy than did the Times.
Martha M. Coakley, the Democrat running for Senator Edward M. Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts, had seemed so certain of winning the special election on Jan. 19 that she barely campaigned last month.
But the dynamic has changed in recent days. The news that two senior Democratic senators will retire this year in the face of bleak re-election prospects has created anxiety and, even in this bluest of states, a sense that the balance of power has shifted dramatically from just a year ago.
With the holidays over and public attention refocused on the race, Ms. Coakley's insistence on debating her Republican opponent, Scott P. Brown, only with a third-party candidate present has drawn mounting criticism.
And a new poll that showed a competitive race between Ms. Coakley and Mr. Brown has generated buzz on conservative blogs and energized the Brown campaign -- though many news organizations dispute its methodology.
Anchoring CNN Tonight, correspondent Erica Hill reported the findings of a new poll:
While Democrats and the president may be cheering the bill's passage, a majority of Americans still oppose the Senate plan. According to a CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll, 56 percent say they are against the measure. Now that's a slight shift actually in favor of the plan from a weeks ago. When as you can see opposition was as high as 61 percent, 42 percent support the plan, that number also up at six points.
And when asked for the effect the health care bill would have on their own family, 34 percent of respondents thought it would change things for the better, 37 percent thought it would make things worst. While 39 percent said it would have no effect. And when you figure the sampling error, almost works out to even across the board.
The responses to the second question total 110 percent, an unlikely result. Unless, of course, the poll were taken in Chicago by federally funded ACORN operatives. That doesn't appear to be the case. The actual poll question (#23) and results:
Yesterday at NewsBusters, Geoffrey Dickens documented the furor of MSNBC's Chris Mathews over the results of an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (PDF).
Specifically, Mathews was irked that the Tea Party Movement (TPM) was viewed quite a bit more favorably than the two major political parties by those polled (VP=Very Positive; SP=Somewhat Positive; N=Neutral; SN=Somewhat Negative; VN=Very Negative; DK=No Opinion):
Tea Party Movement: VP-20%; SP-21%; N-21%; SN-10%; VN-13%; DK-15%
Mathews dismissed the TPM's convincing advantage over the established parties, especially in higher strong positives and lower strong negatives, as being the result of a biased poll question working in the Tea Partiers' favor. I don't think so. In fact, I think the result occurred even though the question is loaded against the TPM.
Here is the full text of the Tea Party poll question (Question 14b, Page 11; bolds are mine):
Eight weeks ago, The Washington Post topped its own front-page with its own ABC-Washington Post poll announcing that the public strongly favored a "public option" in health care, by 57 to 40 percent. Their latest poll is much worse: "Negatives abound in poll," read the subhead. So it was buried on page 6 Wednesday. On the front page instead, a happy-talk headline: "Health bill’s prospects improve as Lieberman signals support."
Tuesday's conservative "Code Red" rally in Washington wasn't buried in the Post. It was nowhere in the Post.
The actual poll story by Dan Balz and Jon Cohen reports that 44 percent support current health-care legislation, and 51 percent disapprove. Approval of Obama’s handling of health-care has gone sour: 44 percent approve, while 53 percent disapprove. But the Post’s front page is still touting "Health care bill’s prospects improve" as their own poll shows a collapse of public support.
White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, recently ridiculed a Gallup poll which showed the President's approval ratings at a record low for this stage of his presidency, for seemingly no other reason than they showed the President in a negative light. Gibbs referred to the Gallup polling organization as a wildly fluctuating EKG, labeling their results as the equivalent of ‘a 6-year-old with a crayon.'
Predictably, this administration has managed to throw a temper tantrum at every instance of failure that has defined them. The only surprise here, being that Gibbs was capable of taking the pacifier out of his mouth long enough to make the analogy.
On the other hand, it was mere months ago that Gibbs himself used Gallup poll numbers to demonstrate support for President Obama's economic stimulus plan - a stimulus plan that a 6-year-old with a crayon would have voted ‘no' on.
On Friday night's Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN anchor tried hard to spin bad polling news for Obama. "In the latest CNN/Opinion Research poll, 48 percent, less than half, said they approve of President Obama's performance, while 50 percent disapprove. The question is, how significant is this shift? Some folks will say, 'Look, it's just one poll.'"
But any White House would shudder at the tumble. CNN's poll on November 13-15 was 55-42 approve, and just three weeks later, it's 48 to 50. On Friday, NBC's Chuck Todd observed on Twitter, "CNN's poll had consistently shown the president with a slightly higher approval rating than either the Gallup, Pew or NBC/WSJ surveys."
Cooper brought in analyst David Gergen to explore whether this kind of tumble has been a historic problem for presidents. They puzzled over the biggest collapse, among non-college educated whites, guessing that's about the economy, not war.
COOPER: So it's not so much about Afghanistan, which was obviously a big story this week, and liberal Democrat dissatisfaction with him sending in more troops. It's really about money, the bad situation a lot of folks are still in?