NewsBusters' newfound respect for pollsters

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

There are many, many problems with the product NewsBusters turns out every day -- awful writing, specious arguments, and outright falsehoods, just to name a few. Among the most glaring, however, is their seemingly deliberate effort to be as inconsistent and hypocritical as possible.

Yesterday, NewsBuster Lachlan Markay attacked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for saying of Gallup's daily presidential tracking poll trendline: "I'm sure a 6-year-old with a crayon could do something not unlike that. I don't put a lot of stake in, never have, in the EKG that is the daily Gallup trend." Markay responded:

Saying the Fox News Channel was not a real news organization was bad enough. But comparing a reputable polling organization to a 6-year-old child with a crayon? That is quite a stretch. This childish accusation--either of incompetence or dishonesty, Gibbs did not make clear which--demonstrates the White House's knee-jerk instincts when confronted with potentially damaging news. The administration, like many on the left, almost seems to feel entitled to news that portrays it in a positive light and advances its agenda.

And here's where the rank hypocrisy comes in. Anyone who is at all familiar with NewsBusters knows that when they are confronted with polling data they don't like, their standard response is to attack the pollster as liberally biased and accuse pollsters of cooking their numbers. Back in October, Tim Graham claimed an ABC News/Washington Post poll "stuff[ed] its poll sample with a few extra Democrats" to get the result they wanted. In June, Noel Sheppard accused the New York Times and CBS News of helping President Obama's health care initiative along "by creating a new poll on the subject that WAY oversampled people who voted for Obama." In April, Graham wrote of a New York Times poll: "Are the liberals cooking the party-ID books again for these polls? Yep." The examples go on and on and on and on.

More to the point, NewsBusters has accused Gallup -- the "reputable polling organization" whose honor Markay defended -- of cooking their numbers to favor Obama. In October 2008, Tom Blumer wrote of Gallup's expanded likely voter model: "Yeah, right. 86% - 9% [sic] of the 159 new 'expanded' likely voters go to Obama. How convenient. This doesn't even pass the stench test, let alone the smell test."

I don't know if NewsBusters has an editorial staff to keep track of all this, but it can't be the case that their contributors don't read their own blog. What's more likely is that they simply don't care. They'll readily sacrifice what little credibility they have just to make a lame attack on a political figure they don't like.

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