MEDIA BIAS IN ACTION: SENATE ROLL CALL VOTES

Ken Berwitz


One of the nice things – maybe the only nice thing – about blogging on the subject of media bias, is how many examples of it there are to choose from.

Here\’s one of the latest – excerpted from Stepahanie Condon\’s article at cbsnews.com:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie this week laid into his 2016GOP rival Sen. Marco Rubio for his spotty attendance record on Capitol Hill,but Christie has attendance issues of his own.

“Dude, show up to work,” Christiesaid in Iowa Tuesday, “show up to work and vote… And ifyou don\’t like it, quit!”

However, as NJ.com pointed out, polling this year shows thatvoters are, in fact, dissatisfied with Christie because of how much time he hasspent out of state. 

New Jersey investigative journalist Mark Lagerkvist reportedfor NJSpotlight.com on December 8 that, “since he declared he was runningfor president on June 30, Christie has been out-of-state all or part of atleast part of 115 days, or 72 percent of the time. So far during 2015, he\’sbeen outside of New Jersey on at least 196 days.”

So what do we know from the above information?  We know that Christ Christie has attacked Marco Rubio for his “spotty attendance record”, and that Christie himself has been out of state 72% of the time (it doesn\’t indicate that he missed any official duties, only that he was out of state all or part of 115 days.  How 115 days out of 365 comes to 72%, and why part-days are counted at all, is not explained).


Since Ms. Condon offers no checkable data on Republican Governor Chris Christie, there is no way to tell what, if anything, he has missed.  We are supposed to take on faith that being out of the state all those days means he missed a lot.  

But Republican Senator Marco Rubio is a different story.  With Mr. Rubio, and any other senator, we can count up the roll call votes and see what percentage he was there for.

In doing so, we find that, from October to the end of December, Marco Rubio has missed 38 of the 65 roll call votes taken:  58.2%.  Click here to see for yourself.  

That looks pretty bad, doesn\’t it?

But, if you\’re going to compare senate votes during an election year, would it not be relevant, for comparative purposes if nothing else, to check how Hillary Clinton, the leading Democrat, did when she was running for President while in the senate? 

Evidently, this logic somehow evaded Ms. Condon.  But not me.  I did the checking.  

What I found was that, during exactly the same comparable time period when Ms. Clinton was running for President while a senator – October, 2007 to the end of the year – Ms. Clinton missed….

….well, well, well.  

As you can see by clicking here, Hillary Clinton missed 71 of the 85 roll call votes taken.  That is 83.5%.  

Now tell me:  If CBS News publishes a story about how senators miss lots and lots of their votes while running for President, and the fact that Marco Rubio has missed 58.2% of his votes is significant enough to put him in this article, would the fact that Hillary Clinton, the queen of missed votes at 83.5%, is completely ignored be a sign of neutrality? Or a sign of bias?

There are many reasons I write about media bias in here.  This is one of them.  

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