• NYT's baseless assertions about Obama & the economy are undermined by its own polling

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Today's New York Times features an article by Patrick Healy that portrays Barack Obama as "out of sync" with Americans who are upset about their struggling economic conditions and accuses Obama of "convey[ing] a certain distance from the ache that many voters feel."

    But Healy does not support his thesis with any poll results. And for good reason: his own newspaper's public polling badly undermines his point.

    A CBS/New York Times poll conducted September 12-16 found that 60 percent of Americans "think Barack Obama understands the needs and problems of people like yourself." Only 48 percent say the same of John McCain.

    That same poll found that 60 percent of Americans are confident of Obama's "ability to make the right decisions about the economy." 53 percent said the same of McCain. And 66 percent said Obama "shares the values most Americans try to live by," compared to 61 percent who said the same of McCain.

    If Healy distrusts his own newspaper's polling, he could have looked to the LA Times poll, which found that by a margin of 48-32, more Americans think Obama has "better ideas for strengthening the nation's economy." Or Pew, which found that by a margin of 47-35, more Americans think Obama would "best address the problems investment banks and companies with ties to the housing market are having."

    Instead of providing public opinion polling relevant to his thesis (polling that, for the most part, completely falsifies the thesis) Healy included several quotes from "experts" that are contradicted by the polling. Incredibly, Healy didn't include a single quote from a source saying Obama's approach has been effective - despite the fact that the polling shows it has been more successful than McCain's.

    Healy did, however, find a way to work Obama's race into an article that would seem to have nothing to do with the topic:

    For Mr. Obama, the financial crisis poses different risks. He wants to appear fired up over the economy, but he has written before about wanting to avoid appearing like a stereotypical angry black man. Unlike Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other black leaders whose fulminations could scare white voters, Mr. Obama is not from and of New York, Detroit, or the segregated South; he grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia. To some degree Mr. Obama faces the opposite challenge from fiery black leaders who came before him: Is he too cool for a crisis like this one?

  • Is Scarborough reading the wrong polls?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    His spin this morning on MSNBC:

    Democratic pundits are scratching their head distressed by the polls. They are looking at the polls and wondering why they aren't far ahead. Some are starting to ask the question, did we nominate the wrong person?"

    Here's what "the polls" have been showing in recent days: 8 out of 10 show Obama ahead. And here's CBS's latest.

  • "It's going to be a town hall. And nobody's going to televise it."

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    That's what NBC's Chuck Todd said this morning, when asked what would happen in Oxford, Mississippi, if John McCain doesn't show up for the scheduled debate tonight.

    And that does seem to be the Question Of The Day for the media: If McCain refuses to participate, will the networks televise a solo forum featuring Barack Obama?

  • Politico erroneously says Paulson (only) blames Dems

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In its news report about Thursday's hectic White House negotiations regarding the financial bailout, Politico reports, "And when Democrats left to caucus in the Roosevelt Room, Paulson pursued them, begging that they not "blow up" the legislation."

    What Politico left out was that, according to ABC's report last night, Paulson then immediately conceded it was "both sides" that were threatening to derail the bailout.

    Again, this is part of what seems to be the media's attempt to set the groundwork for the blame game by not reporting accurately what Paulson said yesterday.

  • Mark Halperin's wildly misleading bailout headline

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    And yes, it tarnishes Dems.

    Headline at Halperin's The Page at PAULSON TO DEMS: "DON'T BLOW THIS UP".

    The item links to an ABC News bulletin headlined, "Bailout Talks Go On Amid Presidential Scuffle." The report includes mention that when Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson ran into senior Democrats in the White House today during all-day negotiations he reportedly said, "Please don't blow this up."

    House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reportedly shot back, "We're not the ones trying to blow this up. It's the House Republicans."

    To which Paulson replied, "I know, I know; it's both sides." [Emphasis added.]

    Halperin's screaming headline makes only one point: Paulson thinks Dems, and Dems alone, will be responsible if the bailout fails. But the article itself makes perfectly clear Paulson himself does not believe that.

  • George Stephanopoulos still proud of his April debate performance

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    You remember. The one where he and Charlie Gibson spent the first 50 minutes moderating the Democratic debate while mired in policy-free gotcha. The one where the audience turned on the hosts because they were doing such an awful job. The one that was tagged by many observers as the worst effort ever. (Here, this will refresh your memory.)

    Well good news. Looking back, Stephanopoulous thinks he did fine. And that the "the questions [he posed] hold up a lot more than the criticism." Plus, his boss at ABC News wasn't even mad at him! Instead, he give the Sunday news celeb an `atta boy: "You did your job and keep going."

    What a relief. We were nervous the ABC News man might actually use the public flogging he suffered to learn a lesson about the nature of journalism in this campaign season.

    But not George. Because he did just fine, thank you.

  • Actual journalism

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Rather than simply repeating John McCain's assertion that he has suspended his campaign, Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein actually did a little work to determine if that is true. His conclusion? "McCain Campaign Still Active Across The Country."

    And yet MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell is still saying -- just now -- "John McCain suprised many yesterday by suspending his campaign and announcing that he was returning to Washington." O'Donnell certainly isn't unique -- she's just the person who happened to say it as I was writing this post. The major media, almost across the board, is repeating the McCain line that he has suspended his campaign.

    This is really simple: John McCain has not suspended his campaign. His campaign staffers are on television, attacking Barack Obama. His ads are still running. His campaign offices are still buzzing with activity.

    He. Has. Not. Suspended. His. Campaign.

    Anyone who says he has simply isn't telling the truth.

  • Rothenberg's bizarre comparison

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Roll Call's Stuart Rothenberg writes:

    Voters shouldn't judge a candidate by his skin color. Maybe, but is it any more unfair than, for example, saying that because McCain and President Bush are both Republicans that a McCain administration would produce a third Bush term? No, it isn't.

    First, people aren't saying that a McCain administration would produce a third Bush term because McCain and Bush are both Republicans. They're saying it because McCain voted with Bush 95 percent of the time last year - highest in the Senate - and 90 percent of the time since Bush took office. They're saying it because McCain has bragged about how much he agrees with Bush. They're saying it because McCain supports Bush's war. They're saying it because McCain supports Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

    Aside from that ... seriously? Rothenberg thinks it is no more unfair to judge a candidate by his skin color than to judge him by the political party he chooses to join? Candidates presumably choose which party to join based on their assessment of which party best reflects their values and policy views. They are intentionally telling voters something about themselves by the party they choose. I assume it is obvious how that differs from skin color.

    Thanks to Media Matters intern Varun Piplani for flagging Rothenberg's claim.