Saturday, August 19, 2006
Lamont vs. Lieberman: The latest media spin
To hear the media tell it, there's been a turnaround in the Lamont-Lieberman race for Senator from Connecticut. The story: Even though Ned Lamont beat Lieberman in the August 8 Democratic primary, Joe Lieberman is now ahead in a poll looking forward to the general election.
The truth: Joe Lieberman was always ahead in polls that targeted the general election, but Ned Lamont's poll numbers have actually improved since the primary.
Let's check with FoxNews, where they take their lying seriously. Here's John Gibson on Thursday—
Michael Moore and left-wing bloggers were all atwitter last week when they could gloat over Ned Lamont beating Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary.
Look at what happened to Lieberman they crowed. We targeted him because of his war vote and we can target you. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Then today, news that Michael Moore and the Daily Kos and the others may have spoken too soon.
The Quinnipiac poll says Connecticut voters actually favor Lieberman in the general election — running as an independent — over Democrat Lamont by 11 points.
Gibson doesn't bother to mention that those results are actually an improvement in Lamont's numbers.
But in case you think I'm hyperventilating, let's consider the AP story by Susan Haigh. It exists in at least two versions. The Washington Post carried the shorter version that came with the headline New Poll Shows Lieberman Leading Lamont. Literal meaning aside, do you get the impression that Lieberman's fortunes have reversed?
Now here's the lead paragraph—
Ned Lamont, whose anti-war campaign rattled the political landscape by toppling Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's Democratic primary, is gaining support among voters — but Lieberman still has an edge, according to a poll released Thursday.
Although Lamont has made a significant gain, only the San Diego Union Tribune modified the headline to make it reflect the story: Poll shows Lamont gaining support, but still trailing Lieberman.
To see how significantly Lamont's poll numbers have improved you need to read the extended version of the AP story.
Quinnipiac University has regularly surveyed registered voters across the state about the Senate race, and it has found over the past three months that Lieberman's support has changed little while Lamont's support has jumped:
_ In early June, Lieberman was at 56 percent, Lamont at 18 percent and Republican Alan Schlesinger trailed far behind at 8 percent.
_ By mid-July, Lieberman was at 51 percent, Lamont at 27 percent and Schlesinger at 9 percent.
_ Now, the latest poll shows Lieberman at 49 percent, Lamont at 38 percent and Schlesinger at 4 percent.
So how was this story headlined? Poll: Lieberman ahead, High Favorability
To put the cherry on the cheesecake, the extended version carries a quote from Lieberman—
It's good to be ahead in the polls again.Finally we have Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank's "Zeitgeist Checklist" that he writes for Slate—
Sen. Joe Lieberman, vanquished in the Connecticut Democratic primary, gets revenge in a new poll giving the independent candidate a 12-point lead over lefty Democratic nominee Ned Lamont.
Lamont and his supporters need to keep their eye on the media and raise hell when they distort the race. The public may say they don't trust the media, but unfortunately they believe what they read.