Newsday's Thrush hyped Obama's missed Senate votes, despite significantly higher Republican absenteeism


In a September 24 Newsday article about presidential candidates missing Senate votes, reporter Glenn Thrush focused almost entirely on the record of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), despite Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) having missed more than twice as many votes as Obama. Specifically, Thrush reported that Obama has missed 23.7 percent of the votes held in the Senate so far this congressional session, while McCain has missed 49.4 percent of Senate votes. And, yet, the focus of the article -- which bears the headline "Obama misses more senate votes than Clinton" -- was not McCain's voting record, but Obama's, in comparison with that of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). In the 638-word article, in addition to a list of the voting records of the presidential candidates in the Senate, Thrush devoted a total of 18 words to McCain's record, writing: "Republican John McCain is the top truant of the 2008 presidential field, with a 50 percent no-show rate."

The article's original headline, which appears in the Nexis database, was "A no-vote from Obama; Busy campaigning, presidential candidate has missed 23.7 percent of votes, three times as many as rival Clinton."

From Thrush's September 24 article:

Barack Obama won't win any Senate attendance awards during the 2008 presidential campaign -- he has racked up three times as many missed votes as challenger Hillary Clinton since January, according to roll call records.

Obama's most recent no-show happened Thursday on Capitol Hill when he skipped a vote on the controversial Republican-sponsored amendment to reprimand for attacking Gen. David Petraeus, saying it was a "stunt" to embarrass Democrats.

But that was hardly the first vote the Illinois freshman sat out: He's missed 23.7 percent of his votes, according to vote-tracking databases. The issues he did not cast ballots on ranged from the symbolic to the significant, and included measures on abortion, homeland security, bridge safety, foreign aid, the alternative minimum tax and a failed no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in June.

Obama has been absent for 82 of his chamber's 346 votes during the current two-year session, a measure of how much time he's been spending in the crucial campaign states of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.


New York-based Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf said Obama's vote-missing is a measure of his desperation to challenge Clinton but will only become an issue if he cuts into her lead. "It's always a balancing act for these candidates to decide which votes to skip," he says. " ... It depends on the value of the vote and the constituency it serves."

Republican John McCain is the top truant of the 2008 presidential field, with a 50 percent no-show rate.

Thrush also provided the absentee rates for all the senators running for president.

From Thrush's September 24 article:

The U.S. Senate has held 346 votes so far this season. Here's how often senators who are presidential candidates were absent during these votes.


Joseph Binden [sic] (D-Del.)


Votes missed: 99

Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.)


Votes missed: 96

Barack Obama (D-Ill.)

23.7 %

Votes missed: 82

Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.)


Votes missed: 28


John McCain (R-Ariz.)

49.4 %

Votes missed: 171

Sam Brownback (R-Kan.)


Votes missed: 125

Glenn Thrush
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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