On Watch

Media Matters leans left as it targets the right.

"You can choose to educate the masses or inflame them," Schrager says. "They've chosen the latter -- and I know this is going to sound sanctimonious, but we've chosen the former."

The August 21 story that brought Schrager and CMM into conflict concerned a Survey USA poll of likely voters in the 7th Congressional District, where Democrat Ed Perlmutter, whom many observers view as the frontrunner, is running against Republican Rick O'Donnell for gubernatorial hopeful Bob Beauprez's old seat. In the piece he offered to viewers of Channel 9's 5 p.m. newscast, Schrager stated that the candidates were unexpectedly deadlocked in the poll, with each getting the nod from 45 percent of the participants. However, in the web version of the same item, accessible at 9News.com, Schrager noted that while "the district is nearly divided evenly among Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated voters," the survey sample was made up of "44 percent Republicans, 33 percent Democrats and 21 percent independents." (These figures add up to 98 percent. No mention of the other 2 percent.) Schrager went on to quote Survey USA director of election polling Dr. Joseph Shipman, who insisted that the poll was accurate even though the percentages in the sample didn't perfectly replicate the proportions of registered voters in the district.

To CMM, the disparity between the TV and online versions of the report raised a red flag -- hence the item's headline: "9News' Schrager Failed to Note Republican Slant of 7th District Poll Sample." In reply, Schrager notes, "I had more space online, so I expanded. But the pollster said the poll was accurate. And when the pollster says it's accurate, what more am I supposed to do?" On top of that, Schrager goes on, CMM didn't do the same kind of demographic comparisons in relation to three other polls from that period whose results were more favorable to a trio of high-profile Dems, Bill Ritter, Angie Paccione and John Salazar. "It's the hypocrisy that bothers me, to be blunt," Schrager says -- but he's also upset that CMM seems to see little distinction between him and the Rosens of the world. "Those people offer opinions for a living. I don't," he allows. "So when I'm lumped in with them, there's an intimation being made that, frankly, I don't appreciate, and I find professionally offensive."

Menezes doesn't see why he should. He argues that Media Matters, in both its local and national permutations, focuses on facts that can be documented instead of indulging in name-calling and personal attacks. As a result, he hopes that CMM will be viewed as more than a typically partisan organization attempting to advance its agenda via spin and subterfuge. "It's going to take time," he maintains. "We have to establish our credibility with everybody as we continue doing what we're doing. And over time, we believe the media, and especially the public, will respond."

That will be easier to accomplish on one side of the fence than the other.

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