Accuracy in Media

poll conducted for CNN by ORC International showed support for a Balanced Budget Amendment at 74% among U.S. adults. Support for a proposal like the Republican “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan was 66%.

However, in its story publicizing the results, CNN chose to focus on other areas of the poll. Instead of focusing on the balanced budget amendment question and the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” question, CNN led its article highlighting that Americans preferred a plan that included both tax increases and spending cuts rather than spending cuts alone. CNN also noted in the first ten paragraphs of its report results in the poll that showed that Republicans believe failing to raise the debt ceiling will not cause major problems or a crisis and results that showed “Americans think that GOP has been acting irresponsibly in the debt ceiling talks and they will blame congressional Republicans, not President Barack Obama, if no action is taken on the debt ceiling by August 2.”

CNN does not mention the balanced budget amendment or cut cap and balance results until the thirteenth paragraph. CNN emphasizes the partisan makeup of the results noting, “Republicans like the ‘cut, cap, and balance’ approach to the debt ceiling, as do Democrats and independents.” Democrats and independents are noted in this phrasing as an afterthought even though 63% of Democrats and 65% of independents support the plan in the poll.

Reuters’s reporting on the poll and a Washington Post/ABC News poll is similar. Reuters notes in the sixth paragraph “A CNN/ORC International poll found 64 percent of those surveyed would prefer to trim the deficit by both spending cuts and tax increases, while a Washington Post-ABC News poll put that proportion at 62 percent, up from 57 percent in June.” Reuters fails to note the CNN/ORCI results about support for the Balanced Budget Amendment and “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” choosing instead to emphasize results that indicate Republicans will receive political blame if the debt ceiling is not raised.

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