The Hill's A.B. Stoddard was on MSNBC this afternoon discussing the media's focus on Barack Obama's purely theoretical (and not alleged by anyone) involvement in the Blagojevich allegations:
STODDARD: They've pushed that off into next week and according to lawyers quoted in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, they're just choosing to do this. They're choosing not to talk. They're under no legal impediment. There's no injunction against them. Although Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't want them to talk, they're not legally kept from doing so. They're not. They're choosing not to talk. So in some ways Barack Obama is sort of doing this to himself. He's going to keep getting those questions and it's going to be a feeding frenzy next week.
See, the media feeding frenzy is Obama's fault: if he would just disclose the contacts between his staff and Blagojevich, it would all go away.
This, of course, is inane. The questions most certainly would not go away. Indeed, they would intensify. Stoddard kept insisting that Obama is under no obligation not to talk. True. True, but dumb. Dumb because if Obama blows off Fitzgerald's request, the media would go into a frenzy about whether that means he is impeding the investigation, and why. And I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that A.B. Stoddard would be an active participant in it.
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer then responded:
BREWER: And it's leaving room for people to ponder and question and leave time for doubts to arise and in fact we're seeing this new Marist poll that shows that 63 percent of Americans feel the Obama transition is on the right track. Now that's pretty good, but an NBC News Wall Street Journal poll showed earlier that that number was more like three quarters of the people that had responded. Is the Blagojevich scandal and the surrounding questions, no matter what the answers are, if they remain unanswered, is it likely to affect how people view this transition?
This is a completely invalid point. Brewer is comparing the results of two different polls conducted by two different polling organizations and purporting to show a trend as a result.
Hey, look, this fruit has red skin, while that fruit has orange skin! Right ... one is an apple, and one is an orange.
But Brewer didn't merely err in comparing the results of two different polls. She portrayed the Marist poll as "new," and suggested the results reflect the "time for doubts to arise."
Well, guess what? The Marist poll was released today ... but it was conducted December 9th and 10th. That's the day charges were filed against Blagojevich, and the next day. In fact, the Marist poll began the day after the NBC/Wall Street Journal ended.
So Brewer is comparing two polls, by two different polling firms, which were conducted on consecutive days, both of which were completed more than a week ago, and both of which were completed before the Blagojevich story was 48 hours old - and in doing so, she is purporting to show an erosion in Obama's public standing as a result of "doubts" that have supposedly arisen in the past week.
Later, Brewer told Stoddard: "I know there are journalists who are taking a lot of heat for not being aggressive and tough with Obama."
Yeah, and there are journalists who are taking heat for being unfair to Obama by obsessively and misleadingly covering the story, despite the fact that there is no allegation that Obama or any of his staff has done anything wrong. But Brewer didn't mention that.