Saturday, September 27, 2008

A New Twist: CNN Tries Unbiased Reporting.

Well they try, anyway. I'm not sure they totally succeeded. On the front page last night were two articles. I was amazed the first one saw the light of day. The title was "Fact Check: Is Obama the most liberal U.S. senator?"
The ACU [American Conservative Union], which customarily places conservative Republicans on the top of its list and liberal Democrats at the bottom, has given Obama a lifetime ranking of just 7.67, according to the figures on the group's Web site.

It says Obama scored 8 percent in 2005, 8 percent in 2006 and 7 percent in 2007. Other Democratic senators in the ACU rankings have had lower yearly and lifetime scores, the site shows.

"He's one of the most liberal," said Larry Hart, the ACU director of government relations.
There is also data in the article from the Americans for Democratic Action, which agrees in general with the conclusion. So the article concludes:
Verdict: True, according to National Journal, but liberal and conservative rating groups reached a slightly different conclusion.
So on one hand I'm impressed the article made it past the CNN editors. On the other hand it didn't make it past unaltered. The end verdict is "true" but they have to add a qualifier. The original title, above, had a clause added to it: "as McCain claims?" They just couldn't help themselves from added their bias to the story.

Of course there was no way that that article could appear on its own, so right below it was the companion article entitled "Fact Check: Does McCain almost always agree with Bush?"

In thee article they look at how McCain voted on "articles favored by Bush". This is somewhat of a slight of hand, as Bush isn't in the Senate and doesn't announce his favor on every bill.
Obama surrogates also frequently say McCain voted with Bush 95 percent of the time. This is a reference to the Republican senator's record in 2007. That was the highest percentage in the seven years studied. In 2005, McCain voted with Bush 77 percent of the time — his lowest percentage in those years.
The article concludes:
Verdict: True
Notice there is no qualifier, even though the conclusion is just a subjective as that of the first article. Also notice they haven't added a qualifier to the title such as "as Obama suggests?"

Finally, this really isn't an apples and oranges comparison. Why not compare their records on rankings by the same organization? In the end I give CNN a "B" for effort in trying to at least be somewhat objective in their reporting and "C" on execution. Though, to be fair, they aren't use to objective reporting so it probably unreasonable to expect them to get it right on their first try.

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