WashPost's Behind the Numbers blog provides cover for birther-minded conservatives

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

Reporting on and analyzing polling data is not one of the media's strong suits. All too often they get it wrong when they aren't obsessed with making something out of nothing.

Now it appears the WashingtonPost.com's Behind the Numbers blog is trying to provide some cover for "birther" minded conservatives after the news outlet's own poll confirmed that nearly one-in-three Republicans and Tea Partiers ascribe to the notion that President Obama may not have been born in the United States.

The Nation's Greg Mitchell writes on the magazine's new Media Fix blog:

But still, the Washington Post's "Behind the Numbers" blog downplayed the results today of its own poll (done with ABC). At least Chris Cillizza at his The Fix blog at the same site played it more accurately, to a point. Dave Weigel, who covers the right for the paper, points out that 31% of tea party supporters hold the Birther view (the same number of Republicans, as if that needs to be pointed out).

The raw numbers: Nearly one in three GOPers (31%) believe Obama was born "in another country." The same figure for Democrats is 15% and among Independents 18%. The number for those who describe themselves as "very conservative" is 36%. Of that segment 17% claim they have "solid evidence" for his birth abroad.

But Jon Cohen at Behind the Numbers attributes this all to a "misunderstanding," not ignorance, bias, political or media manipulation, or, in part, racism. He emphasizes that overall 77% do not endorse this view, noting, "Broad majorities across party lines volunteer that Obama was born in the U.S., although substantial numbers in some groups say he wasn't.." He buries the 1 in 3 finding for all Republicans way down in his report.

Greg Mitchell
The Nation, Washingtonpost.com, Behind the Numbers, Media Fix
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