Is a Fact That Hard to Recognize?

Sometimes reporters are so used to be being spun that they don’t recognize when they’re simply being told the facts. That’s what happened to Adam Nagourney in his page one piece in The New York Times yesterday.

Nagourney tells us: “Dr. Dean’s advisers said they were seeing signs, in some polls, that their candidate had at least arrested his decline and might be on the upswing after an intimate interview he and his wife, Judith Steinberg Dean, gave on ABC on Thursday.”

But he doesn’t reveal that a CNN-Gallup tracking poll affirmed that Dean’s slide did indeed end on Thursday, and his numbers have been steadily creeping up since. Polls by Zogby and the American Research Group show a similar trajectory.

By this stage in the campaign, we all know that polls aren’t necessarily reliable, especially in a situation as fluid as New Hampshire now seems to be. But here’s the point: If Nagourney is going to cite the Dean campaign’s claims, he should give readers some hint as to whether they’re based on more than wishful thinking. In this case, they were.


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Zachary Roth is a contributing editor to The Washington Monthly. He also has written for The Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets.