Wash. Post and Politico ignore subjectivity, McCain omission, and self-admitted flaw in uncritically reporting National Journal rating

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN

The Washington Post and the Politico both noted the National Journal's rating of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama as "the most liberal senator in 2007" without mentioning an admitted flaw in the Journal's 2003 rating of Sen. John Kerry as "the most liberal senator," or that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain did not receive a composite score in 2007 because he "missed more than half of the votes in both the economic and foreign-policy categories."

In separate articles, The Washington Post and the Politico highlighted National Journal's rating of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (IL) as "the most liberal senator in 2007," without noting an admitted flaw in the publication's previous rating of then-Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. John Kerry (MA) as the "most liberal senator" in 2003, or that Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (AZ) "did not vote frequently enough in 2007 to draw a composite score" because he "missed more than half of the votes in both the economic and foreign-policy categories." Moreover, neither article informed readers of the criteria used by the Journal in assessing Obama as "most liberal senator." As Media Matters for America pointed out, among the "liberal" votes Obama took that purportedly earned him this label were the following: to implement the bipartisan 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations, provide more children with health insurance, permit federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and maintain a federal minimum wage.

The February 11 Post article, headlined "Clinton, Obama Each Claim Footing to Push Shifting Va. Across the Aisle," discussed the upcoming Virginia Democratic presidential primary and reported: "GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said Obama's real challenge in many parts of Virginia will be his voting record." The article then noted: "National Journal ranked Obama as the most liberal senator in 2007." Similarly, the Politico reported on February 10 that "many conservatives interviewed, like [conservative activist Paul] Weyrich, said the recent nonpartisan National Journal ranking of Obama as the most liberal senator illustrates a significant vulnerability." The article quoted Weyrich as saying: "I think [Democrats] really don't know what's coming. ... "In other words, they don't really understand that his [Obama's] philosophy, his viewpoint, is going to be made an issue."

From the February 11 Washington Post article, headlined "Clinton, Obama Each Claim Footing to Push Shifting Va. Across the Aisle":

GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said Obama's real challenge in many parts of Virginia will be his voting record. National Journal ranked Obama as the most liberal senator in 2007.

"What new could you possibly tell a voter about Hillary Clinton that they don't already know?" Fabrizio asked. "On Hillary, the cake is already baked in the voter's mind. The guy who isn't baked in the voter's mind is Barack Obama. At the end of the day, his issue positions would be his undoing in a state like Virginia."

From the February 10 Politico.com article, headlined "Conservatives Learn to Live with McCain":

Though Weyrich believes New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "is clearly an easier target because her negatives are so high," he also argued that Democrats have not considered Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's "weaknesses."

Most Republicans cite both Democrats' relative inexperience compared with McCain. But many conservatives interviewed, like Weyrich, said the recent nonpartisan National Journal ranking of Obama as the most liberal senator illustrates a significant vulnerability.

"I think [Democrats] really don't know what's coming," Weyrich said. "In other words, they don't really understand that his philosophy, his viewpoint, is going to be made an issue. Right now he has been winning on oratory and personality. Both of which are outstanding. But once people begin to understand where he is, and that he is really the same as Hillary on most everything, I think it's going to be a different story."

Posted In
Government, The Senate
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post, The Politico
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.