Writing A Completely Biased News Article
Dan Eggen at the Washington Post wrote a completely pro-Democrat and pro-statist piece called “Poll: Large majority opposes Supreme Court’s decision on campaign financing,” a report on a Washington Post-ABC News poll regarding the recent Citizens United v. FEC ruling, disguising it as a news article. It is claimed that as many as 85% of Democrats, 81% of independents, and, shockingly, 76% of Republicans oppose the ruling. But is it true?
If you read the whole of Eggen’s “news” article, you’ll notice what is missing: the question or questions that were asked.
Here are the claims from Eggen’s piece:
Americans of both parties overwhelmingly oppose a Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns, and most favor new limits on such spending, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court’s Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits.
The new poll, however, suggests there may be political risks for the GOP in opposing limits that appear to be favored by the party’s base.
Nearly three-quarters of self-identified conservative Republicans say they oppose the Supreme Court ruling, with most of them strongly opposed. Some two-thirds of conservative Republicans favor congressional efforts to limit corporate and union spending, though with less enthusiasm than liberal Democrats.
Pretty amazing stuff, if it can be believed. As noted at the end:
The questions on corporate political spending were included as part of a poll conducted Feb. 4 to 8 by conventional and cellular telephone. The margin of sampling error for the for the full poll of 1,004 randomly selected adults is plus or minus three percentage points.
The poll Eggen is referring to is here. It looks fairly comprehensive, covering a wide variety of subjects. However, there are some quirks I found. One, there is no question 12. Nowhere. I did a Ctrl+F find of the number 12; although the number shows up repeatedly, it doesn’t show up as a question number, so there is no way to know if there was a twelfth question or if there was, what was asked.
But it gets better. Reading through the questions asked, there is no mention of the ruling anywhere. However, these did show up: “Questions 35 and 36 held for future release.”; and, “Questions 41-43 held for future release.” Methinks somewhere amongst these questions “held for future release” are the ones related to the Citizens United v. FEC ruling. So all we are left with is Eggen’s view.
About the only hint we get of what was asked is this:
In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the high court ruled 5-4 that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to political speech and can therefore use their profits to support or oppose individual candidates. The decision appears to open the door to unlimited spending by corporations, trade groups and unions in the weeks leading up to an election, which has been explicitly banned for decades.
Of course, this is ridiculous. Eggen’s employer, the Washington Post, is a corporation. The owners of ABC, CBS, and NBC are multi-national conglomerates, engaged in different businesses along with their media parts. All of these corporations engage in the free speech rights every American enjoys. So how is it that the government can say these corporations can spend money, even indirectly, endorsing candidates but not other corporations? The right answer is the government can’t. Which is what Citizens United affirmed. Not only that, the unlimited spending by corporations, trade groups and unions was already in place, except that it wasn’t one bit transparent as these entities could, essentially, launder campaign finance money through other entities, namely political action committees (PACs).
Based on this, I suspect the missing questions related to the Citizens United ruling were completely misleading, something not unheard of in polls conducted by Democratic and statist “spokesmouths” amongst the lame-stream media, like those at the Washington Post and ABC News.
It’ll be interesting to see what the poll actually asked once they are released, and then rip into them. Until then, all we have are completely biased opinion pieces masquerading as “news”.
(Hat tip: Memeorandum)