I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

CBS News is owed an apology

CBS News released a poll last week showing the approval rating for President Bush at 35%, a new low. Like bats out of hell – only much more predictable – certain shrill, partisan soldiers swarmed all over it, insisting that they had discovered incontrovertible proof that the poll was fundamentally and (of course) deliberately flawed because it purposely undercounted Republicans.

Acting as though he had uncovered the new Rathergate, National Review’s Peter Robinson administered this lecture to CBS:

In a new poll, CBS has discovered that the President's approval rating has fallen to 35 percent. Examining the data, Dartmouth's Joe Malchow has in turn announced that the CBS poll is virtually worthless. How come? Whereas 25 percent of the respondents were Republicans, 35 percent were Democrats. Memo to Sean McManus, new president of CBS News: If this is the way you intend to re establish your network's credibility, save yourself a lot of trouble and simply re-hire Dan Rather.

Multiple other GOP shills shrieked in unison: these are "forged and fraudulent poll numbers" -- "egregiously titled to the left" -- "skewed results" -- "the latest bogus C-BS (sic) news poll"!

Hilariously, in attacking the integrity of the CBS poll, each and every one of them relied upon and cited to that same renowned polling expert – "Joe" -- whose towering credential as an analyst of polling methodology is that he is a college freshman. Even after receiving an apparent avalanche of e-mails pointing out the obvious flaws in his complaints about the methodology of the CBS poll, Joe still opined:

"But CBS’ numbers are outliers, and shouldn’t have been trumpted (sic) as they were nor the respondant (sic) makeup hidden as it was."

Today, the Pew Research Center released a new poll. The result? A whopping 36% of the electorate approve of Bush’s job performance, a full 1% higher than the CBS poll.

Does the GOP polling guru "Joe," along with his adherents such as Peter Robinson at National Review, owe CBS News an apology for attacking the integrity and reliability of its poll? Will "Joe" retract his plainly inaccurate claim that the poll is an "outlier"? Or will he seize on the monumental 1% difference between CBS and Pew and triumphantly claim - again - that he exposed CBS' deliberate attempt to hide from the American people that Bush's popularity was at a towering 36% rather than 35%?

If the situation were reversed -- and it turned out that subsequent polls negated rather than confirmed CBS' findings -- is there any doubt that Robinson, "Joe", and these others would be shrieking that CBS must retract their inaccurate findings and acknowledge its error? Shouldn't these Beacons of Political Integrity be applying to themselves the same behavioral standard which they endlessly preach for CBS and other media outlets? Shouldn't they retract their criticism of the CBS poll, acknowledge that it was right and they were wrong, and then apologize?

I'll be right over here, holding my breath, waiting.


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