Scarborough uncritically cited National Journal label of Obama as having "most liberal record in the Senate"

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough stated that Sen. Barack Obama has "the most liberal record in the Senate, according to the National Journal," but he did not mention a respected, comprehensive vote study that found Obama was the 10th most liberal senator in 2007.

During the May 1 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough stated, "[H]ow ironic it is that people see him [Sen. Barack Obama] as the uniter, despite the fact that he's got the most liberal record in the Senate, according to the National Journal." However, Scarborough did not note that, in contrast with the results of a respected vote study by political science professors Keith Poole and Jeff Lewis, which considers every non-unanimous vote cast by every legislator to determine his or her relative ideology, the National Journal's selection of votes is subjective. The Journal used only "99 key Senate votes, selected by NJ reporters and editors, to place every senator on a liberal-to-conservative scale." After considering every vote, Poole and Lewis' study placed Obama in a tie for 10th most liberal senator in 2007.

As Media Matters for America has repeatedly documented (here, here, here, here, here, and here), among the votes Obama cast that purportedly earned him the 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, when asked by Politico editor-in-chief John F. Harris about the Journal's 2007 vote ratings during a February 11 Politico/WJLA interview, 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 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 May 1 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: Think how ironic it is that people see him [Obama] as the uniter, despite the fact that he's got the most liberal record in the Senate, according to the National Journal. And also, he voted against John Roberts for the United States Supreme Court. Now, listen, the guy was so qualified. Anybody that saw John Roberts testify knew that if you voted against John Roberts, it's because you were a left-wing ideologue.

Posted In
Government, The Senate
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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