LA Times highlighted National Journal's ranking of Obama, uncritically quoted NRCC spokesman

››› ››› KATHLEEN HENEHAN

The Los Angeles Times reported of Sen. Barack Obama: "National Journal magazine has ranked him as the most liberal member of the Senate." In relying on National Journal's rankings, the article ignored a more comprehensive vote study by two political science professors that placed Obama in a tie for the ranking of 10th most liberal senator in 2007.

In an April 6 article about Democratic members of Congress who serve as superdelegates, Los Angeles Times staff writer Janet Hook reported, "National Journal magazine has ranked him [Sen. Barack Obama] as the most liberal member of the Senate," adding: " 'Democrats are in the unenviable position of having to choose between the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate and Hillary Clinton,' said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee." However, Hook ignored the results of a respected vote study by political science professors Keith Poole and Jeff Lewis that uses every non-unanimous vote cast by every legislator to determine his or her relative ideology. Poole and Lewis' study placed Obama in a tie for the ranking of 10th most liberal senator in 2007. By contrast, the National Journal's analysis used "99 key Senate votes, selected by NJ reporters and editors, to place every senator on a liberal-to-conservative scale."

As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented, among the votes Obama cast that purportedly earned him the National Journal's "most liberal senator" label were those to implement the 9-11 Commission's homeland security recommendations, provide more children with health insurance, expand federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, and maintain a federal minimum wage. Obama himself criticized the Journal's methodology by noting that it considered "liberal" his vote for "an office of public integrity that stood outside of the Senate, and outside of Congress, to make sure that you've got an impartial eye on ethics problems inside of Congress." Media Matters has also noted that the National Journal admitted to having used flawed methodology in the publication's previous rating of then-Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. John Kerry (MA) as the "most liberal senator" in 2003.

From the April 6 Los Angeles Times:

But others think Obama may be an equal drag on the ticket once Democrats in conservative regions learn more about his voting record on issues such as gun control and immigration. National Journal magazine has ranked him as the most liberal member of the Senate.

"Democrats are in the unenviable position of having to choose between the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate and Hillary Clinton," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "For a large number of newly elected Democrats, latching on to either of the potential Democratic nominees is a political death knell."

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Los Angeles Times, National Journal Group
Show/Publication
National Journal
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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