July 21, 2015

Since Howard Kurtz began working for Fox News, his show has taken a rightward turn (as many viewers can attest to). I've always enjoyed covering Kurtz' media shows because I cover the media and when he was at CNN, he often covered topics that were timely and relevant. It's safe to say that I've had my issues with Howard over the years, but I've also praised some of his reporting (Military General Propaganda story promoting positive feelings for the Iraq war). Recently, he's been very critical of the press over their Bernie Sanders coverage and called it a double standard.

“He’s not getting the scrutiny that comes along with being a top-tier candidate,” Kurtz claimed. “Even on his positions of breaking up the banks or single-payer healthcare — we should have a debate about that. Very few go into that.”

I've never seen Howard discuss bias towards conservative reporting, but that's a story for another time. Eric Boehlert has a great article up about the media's skewered poll questions which is designed to diminish Hillary Clinton in the process.

The Press' Latest Double Standard For Democrats

Last week, the Associated Press helped dictate campaign coverage for a news cycle when it emphasized how its latest poll showed Hillary Clinton's favorable ratings falling.

"The survey offers a series of warning signs for the leading Democratic candidate," the AP warned, suggesting its survey results were "troubling" for the Democratic frontrunner. Despite the fact that the AP's own poll found that a vast majority of Democratic voters view Clinton favorably, the article included interviews with three Democratic voters, all of whom gave Clinton negative reviews.

The excited AP dispatch set off a new round of Clinton-in-trouble coverage by news organizations that reprinted the AP's survey results:

And at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza pounced on the AP's polling data and announced it was all very bad news for Clinton.

But notice what information was buried in the 18th and final paragraph of the AP's report on Clinton's falling favorable ratings [emphasis added]:

Clinton's bad marks weren't unique: Nearly all of the Republican candidates surveyed in the poll shared her underwater approval ratings. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a leading GOP candidate, saw his unfavorable ratings rise to 44% from 36% in April.

Wait, what?

Wait, what - exactly. Fox News has been hyping their own new poll and Eric found a similar troubling aspect of it.

Note this from Fox News:

But here's the possible trouble for Clinton in the general election: 70 percent of voters overall say that a candidate who is sometimes less than honest is a "deal breaker" for their vote -- and a 58 percent majority believes Clinton's natural instincts lean more toward "hiding the truth" than "telling the truth" (33 percent).

What is odd is that Fox never asked voters about Bush's trustworthiness, or any other Republican candidate's trustworthiness.

Fox only asked about Clinton.

The same was true of a poll released in June by CNN: "A growing number of people say she is not honest and trustworthy." How did Clinton's "trust" score compare with Bush's? We don't know because CNN didn't ask if voters trust Bush.

And yes, the latest AP poll is guilty of the same imbalance -- it asks if Clinton is "honest," types up the results as bad news for the Democrat, but doesn't pose that query about Bush, or any of the Republican candidates.

Why the persistent double standard?

"Honesty" only comes into play for Hillary Clinton's questions. How nice of them.

Will Howard Kurtz cover these discrepancies in the polling questions asked about Hillary Clinton, especially in the Fox Poll? I hope he does, because it's a very important point to make to the media polling outlets that are crafting these questions for obvious reasons. Didn't you think elections were all about the people and the candidates running?

Digby wondered the same thing:

A question for the ages. Boehlert refers to Nate Silver's recent analysis about the Democratic race, who put it starkly:

"Coronations are boring," noted Nate Silver, as he recently highlighted deficiencies in the media's polling coverage. Journalists would "rather see a competitive Democratic primary, which means more to talk about and analyze."

It's all about them. Always.

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