Accuracy in Media

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A new CNN/ORC International poll that shows that Congressional Republicans would shoulder much of the blame for a potential Department of Homeland Security shutdown, conveniently omitted the Democrats as a possible answer.

The poll found that 53% of Americans would blame Republicans in Congress if the DHS is shut down, while 30% would blame President Obama. Thirteen percent would blame both Obama and the GOP.

It’s not unusual for Republicans to get the blame every time there is a government shutdown or a threat of a government shutdown, but in this case respondents weren’t told that the Republican-led House had already passed a spending bill, and that Senate Democrats have blocked attempts to pass a bill mainly over the provision to reverse Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

The battle to pass the spending bill is between Republicans and Democrats—and only peripherally Obama; not Obama and the Republicans—and only peripherally the Democrats—as the poll is framed.

To omit the Democrats as an option for the blame, and to not inform or explain to respondents that a spending bill has already been passed by the House, gives the impression that the Republicans are responsible for a potential shutdown. This shows the inherent bias of the poll and renders the results as totally useless, except to those who will try to use them to force Republicans to accept a Democrat-friendly bill.

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