Monday, November 05, 2012

A Nation of Illiterates

Not the entire nation, but the nation of Beltway hacks.  Here's PoliticHo's hackery on the Pew study:
From August 27 through October 21, 71 percent of MSNBC's coverage of Mitt Romney this year was negative, far outperforming Fox News's negative coverage of President Barack Obama, which came in at 46 percent, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The negative-to-positive ratio on MSNBC was roughly 23-to-1; the negative-to-positive ratio on Fox News was 8-to-1.
Howie Kurtz all but read this verbatim in the CNN clip below. I'd wager even money that Kurtz didn't even read Pew's summary of its study; he just cut-and-pasted Byers' inaccurate summary of the Pew summary into the teleprompter.

As a scholarly analysis demonstrates, here's what Pew actually studied:
So pesons working for Pew watched 1.0 to 2.5 hours of a cable net every weekday, with different amounts for each net. Unless, as this page suggests, Pew only "codes the first half of an hour long show ("For all television programs, we code the first 30 minutes of the broadcast (with the exception of PBS Newshour), regardless of how long the program lasts," which would bring it down to .5 to 1.5 hours per net per day). And "When a show is pre-empted for a special live event, such as a presidential campaign debate or the State of the Union address, we do not include that period as part of our sample." (Both political conventions occurred during the subject time period.)
So we're not taking about "the coverage" of the two networks. At most, we're talking about approximately 4 to 10.5 percent of the weekday, non-special event coverage. 
Again, the point is not whether a study which actually studied the actual coverage of the candidates by MSNBC and FOX would demonstrate that one channel sucked harder than the other (assuming you think that negative coverage of a presidential candidate by itself means that something sucks).  Because, really, who gives a fuck? 

The point is that Howie Kurtz and PoliticHo and Mediaite can't be bothered to report accurately what is spelled out for them in remedial English.  It wouldn't take much extra work to write "a Pew study in which researchers selectively viewed from 1/48th to 1/10th of programming on MSNBC and FOX concluded that MSNBC's coverage of Romney was more negative than FOX's coverage of the President."  It would have taken no extra work for these hacks to accurately state what was in the Pew executive summary.  

The Daily Beast and PoliticHo and Mediaite have so little respect for their readers that they don't even try to summarize a press release accurately.  Nothing at any of those sites should be taken seriously.

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