Tell your statistics to shut up

I’ve never seen a newscast by new ABC News anchor Elizabeth Vargas, and after reading this report in the Washington Times, I doubt that I’ll be tuning in. According to the Media Research Center, Vargas declined to report her own network’s poll results that placed President Bush’s approval rating at 41 percent, as opposed to the much touted 34 percent number reported by CBS News. (The 41 percent figure is just one percentage point lower than ABC News’ result from January, and given the margin of error, it’s really the same number). Moreover, Robin Roberts (a woman’s basketball commentator, as far as I knew) not only failed to report the 41 percent result but asserted that “President Bush’s job approval rating has sunk to a new career low.”
Vargas also cherry picked poll results with respect to specific issues. She ignored results showing that a majority of Americans support electronic eavesdropping by the FBI and the NSA to combat terrorism. However, she reported that 80 percent of Americans believe that a civil war is likely in Iraq.
I would have thought that the policy preferences of Americans would be more newsworthy than their predictions about what Sunnis and Shiites will do in Iraq, especially since few Americans have first-hand knowledge about Iraq and most would have to base their predictions largely on the line being fed to them by the MSM. Garbage in; garbage out, as they say.

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