Friday, May 19, 2006

Non-Story Story

I was watching CNN this morning, which had a featured story and discussion (involivng Miles O'Brien, Paul Begala, and a Republican political strategist) that focused on President Bush's increased approval ratings based on CNN's most recent poll vs. their 5/7/2006 poll. Here's the improvement:

CNN/Gallop Polls: "Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?"
Date
Approve
Disapprove
5/18/06
36%
57%
5/7/06
34%
58%
Margin of Error: +/ 3%

So, Bush's ratings move (in a 10-day span) by less than the margin of error, and that is reason enough for 5 minute segment discussion how he is "gaining traction" (actual quote from Miles O'Brien") on his immigration plan, or whatever. Are we really that stretched for actual things to report on? And it's not like it takes a PhD in economics or statistics to figure out that this is not news. It said right there on the screen: "Margin of Error +/- 3%."

Rrrrrggggghhhhh!

While I didn't tune in for the entire segment, I'm pretty certain that no one offered the explanation that just by chance this time they sampled a few more people who approve of President Bush's job performance, but that overall opinions haven't changed. (Well, certainly the Republican strategist didn't. But I doubt Paul Begala did either.)

7 Comments:

Blogger BW said...

What's worse is that they ran essentially the same segment (although perhaps with different people) yesterday. So they felt it was worth more than 5 minutes.

Sad. Very sad.

5/19/2006 10:21 AM  
Anonymous Everyday Economist said...

I think you're confusing reporting with power and entertainment.

CNN and other networks are there to get ratings. News is just a method.

What you see here is an attempt to appeal to the 34% (plus of minus) who are hearing very little that fits their point of view on the news.

It's not REALLY about truth, it's show business.

5/24/2006 10:51 AM  
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