Judging the Polls
What the MRC calls biased, most people would call fair, and vice versa. Plus: conservative bigwigs perpetuate a "nuclear option" lie, and a WorldNetDaily columnist apparently wants judicial activism after all.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center is complaining about "biased" polls on the Republican effort to shut down filibusters, but what it's calling for to correct it is not fairness but more bias.
The MRC got on this current kick on April 26, when a CyberAlert claimed that "the language of the question" in an ABC News poll led to what Brent Baker called "the media's desired answer" opposing the plan by Senate Republicans to pull the "nuclear option" to kill filibusters of judicial nominees. Among the questions, as quoted by Baker:
"The Senate has confirmed 35 federal appeals court judges nominated by Bush, while Senate Democrats have blocked 10 others. Do you think the Senate Democrats are right or wrong to block these nominations?" Right: 48 percent; wrong: 36 percent.
Those questions seem to accurately reflect the filibuster situation in a nutshell. So what does the MRC find wrong with them? They weren't slanted against Democrats, that's what. As Baker wrote:
Now, imagine how the results would likely have been quite different if the questions were worded a bit differently to include other information:
Well, if we're going to include other relevant information in poll questions, as Baker suggests, shouldn't pollsters also be telling folks that Republicans blocked more than 60 (or, depending how you count, at least 100) Clinton judicial nominees from even getting out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and that Republicans changed the rules to keep Democrats from using those same procedures to block nominees in committee?
Additionally, an April 27 CyberAlert cites Fox News' Brit Hume citing a poll from Rasmussen Reports that asks similar questions as those Baker proposed and gets the answers Baker wants; 56 percent say that "Senate rules should be changed to give every nominee a vote." But it fails to note that Republicans failed to "give every nominee a vote" when they were nominated by Clinton. (WorldNetDaily cited this poll, too.) It also fails to note, as ConWebWatch has previously noted, that Rasmussen is a conservative-leaning polling firm.
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Conservative bigwigs are trying to perpetuate a lie.
In a May 6 commentary reprinted at CNSNews.com urging Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster on judicial nominations, Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner wrote: "Liberals call it the 'nuclear option' and have vowed to use procedural measures to bring all Senate business to a grinding halt if they don't get their way."
In a May 2 commentary reprinted at Accuracy in Media, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation (and a Heritage Foundation founder) wrote: "So again there was talk of what Democrats and the media now have dubbed the 'nuclear option.'"
Wrong. The term "nuclear option" originated with Republican Sen. Trent Lott in 2003, and Republicans regularly referred to the anti-filibuster plan as the "nuclear option" until earlier this year, when Republican strategists deemed the term to be a political liability and the soft-and-cuddly term "constitutional option" was coined.
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On a related subject, conservatives continue to distort the truth about Democrats and the "nuclear option." Star Parker rushed to the defense of Bush judicial nominee Janice Rogers Brown in a May 10 WorldNetDaily commentary, claiming that "There is no conceivable argument that can be made that she is not an eminently qualified candidate for a seat on a federal court."
Actually, there is, but Parker won't tell you. Brown twice received an "Unqualified" rating from the California judicial evaluation committee because was "prone to inserting conservative personal views into her appellate opinions."
Isn't the insertion of personal views into legal opinions what conservatives are supposed to be fighting?