ABC and CNN Propel Phony Porn Study
ABC and CNN, two reputable news sources, have done their part in promoting a “study” that posits conservatives are the nation’s biggest consumers of online pornography. Problem is, many think the study is full of holes and fuzzy math. ABC and CNN bought it: hook, line and sinker.
“Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers” is a New Scientist article by Ewen Callaway that alleges that those who reside in “red” states, typically associated with support of the GOP, purchase more pornography than those in “blue” states. He cites a nationwide study that analyzed credit card receipts from a “popular online adult entertainment provider” in various states.
CNN’s Kiran Chetry discussed the study with former porn addict pastor David Erik Jones, author of Your Struggle, My Struggle. ABC news posted the original New Scientist article on its Web site abcnews.com and both networks cited the study as though it were fact.
“Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by,” author of the study Benjamin Edelman said.
But Edelman, an Assistant Professor of Business Administration at
“Setting aside the fact that not all Republicans are conservatives and not all people who vote for a Republican President are members of the GOP themselves, Red States are not solely made up of Republicans and Blue States are not solely made up of Democrats. If a state went 51/49 for McCain, it's entirely possible that the 49% that voted for Obama could be the ones watching most of the porn. Of course, the 51% that voted for McCain could be the ones doing it, too, but the point is that this study has no way of distinguishing one side from the other.”
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, a writer for getreligion.org with a background in economics, also found flaws with Edelman’s math.
“The data groups consumers by “states” and yet we then extrapolate based on anonymous credit card receipts that people who are outraged by porn are consuming it?” Mollie asked. “How do I explain to Edelman and Callaway that states are places where many people live and that in each state there are variations in behavior in attitudes?”
And when it comes to INDIVIDUALS (as opposed to, again, STATES), 60 percent more Democrats than Republicans report having watched at least one porno in the last year. That was from the 2006 General Social Survey. While there’s no breakdown for conservative versus liberal, it does seem to contradict the claims by the New Scientist and Edelman. And it has the bonus of being data-driven as opposed to existing solely in the fevered imaginations and poorly-done statistical analysis of two individuals!”
The “popular online adult entertainment provider” from which Edelman got his numbers is none other than Adult Video News, an adult entertainment trade publication. Forbes magazine took AVN to task back in 2001 for reporting faulty numbers about pornography use.
Daniel Weis, spokesman for the Christian group Focus on The Family, told the Salt Lake Tribune’s Dawn House that readers should exercise caution when reading the report. “My caution is that people do not extrapolate that this is a report for the entire nation,” he said. “The fact that conservative-minded people are fighting porn doesn't mean that they go home and look at it.”
If ABC and CNN are going to keep their reputation as credible news outlets, “studies” such as this shouldn’t be touted as credible sources of news.