On July 16, Public Policy Polling (PPP) came out with a new poll showing Hillary Clinton solidly ahead for the general election against any Republican opponent. According to PPP, Clinton leads Jeb Bush by 8 points (46%-38%), Scott Walker by 5 points (47%-42%) and Donald Trump by 10 points (49%-39%).
So…seems like pretty big news that you’d expect to have gotten some coverage by the corporate media, right? Well, think again. I did a Nexis search for “Virginia News Sources” using terms like “Public Policy Polling,” “PPP” and “Clinton” and got…wait for it…that’s right, ZERO results. None. Nada. I also looked on the main Virginia newspapers – the Roanoke Times, Washington Post, Republican Times-Disgrace, etc. – and found no coverage of the PPP poll showing Hillary Clinton ahead of all possible Republican 2016 presidential nominees in Virginia. Same thing, by the way, with right-wing Virginia blogs – no coverage of the PPP poll showing Clinton ahead in Virginia. Hmmmm.
OK, so maybe you’re thinking it’s just so early, nobody’s interested in covering polls. Except that yesterday, a Quinnipiac University Poll of Virginia was released, showing “Clinton In Trouble In Colorado, Iowa, Virginia” (e.g., Clinton trailing Bush by 42%-39%; Rubio by 43%-31%). Keep in mind that Quinnipiac doesn’t have a signficantly better track record than PPP; according to FiveThirtyEight.com’s pollster rankings, PPP gets a “B-” (with a slight, 0.7-point Republican “lean”) and Quinnipiac gets a “B+” (with a 0.9-point Republican “lean”). So…pretty similar, slight edge perhaps to Quinnipiac, but not by much.
So, how much coverage di the Quinnipiac poll, showing Clinton TRAILING in Virginia, get? Nexis is lagging, only showing 7 stories in Virginia News Sources so far, but I know it’s a lot more than that because Nexis still hasn’t picked up: 1) Virginia Poll: GOP contenders have slight edge over Clinton (Virginian-Pilot); 2) Clinton lags among voters in swing states against leading GOP hopefuls (Washington Post); 3) Clinton Losing Ground to Three GOP Rivals in Virginia (RTD); 4) Quinnipiac Poll: Hillary Clinton trails Republicans presidential contenders in Virginia (Augusta Free Press); 5) Clinton edge erodes in three swing states (Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star); 6) Poll: Hillary Clinton trails three Republicans in Virginia, Iowa, Colorado (Daily Progress); 7) Could Hillary Clinton Win Virginia? Poll Puts Her Behind Rubio, Walker, Bush(WAMU); 8) Quinnipiac Poll: Clinton Trailing Several GOP Candidates in VA. (NBC 29); etc. In other words, blanket coverage of the (probable outlier) poll showing Hillary Clinton trailing in Virginia, while giving NONE to the poll showing her ahead of all possible Republican nominees. Oh, and as an added bonus, some of the largest right-wing political blogs in Virginia covered the Quinnipiac Poll…but of course not the PPP poll. Fascinating, eh? (also note; we’ve now covered both)
So what does all this tell me? Very simple. The media is not about reporting the “news,” per se, but is actively engaged – as many of us have long suspected – in printing stories that: a) bring “eyeballs” to their site; b) promote “controversy” or “horse race”; c) push the narrative THEY want to see pushed, in this case that Clinton is falling, that Republicans are leading in key swing states, blah blah blah. Kind of like when they claimed that Romney was gaining on Obama in the closing days of the 2012 election, even though that was absolutely NOT the case. Yet the media persists in doing this s***, blatantly in this case, although of course the corporate media won’t call out itself for what it’s doing, so most people are unaware of what’s going on. Clever, clever. In turn, that makes it easier for right wingers to push their absurd narrative that there’s a “liberal media bias.” In fact, if anything, there’s a strong conservative bias in the media, but even more so there’s a bias towards controversy, “if it bleeds it leads,” false equivalency, and pushing a “horse race” or a narrative of the frontrunner falling or whatever. It’s really insidious, and it’s all very obvious, yet almost nobody will acknowledge it.