Why Must the Washington Post Fact Checker Discount the Hunter Laptop Factor?

May 13th, 2023 10:28 PM

Washington Post "Fact Checker" Glenn Kessler somehow thinks it's a terrible idea to do a poll asking about how the 2020 election could have turned out differently. That's odd, since The Post did polls for several years asking if the Russians made the 2016 election turn out differently. Robert Mueller didn't find that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, but that didn't stop the incessant journalism promoting that idea.

After the CNN "town hall" with Trump, Kessler took on something Trump said about the Hunter Biden laptop story suppression, and veered into attacking our Media Research Center poll, which Trump didn't mention. On all the social-media censorship and media bias by omission, Kessler asserted "there’s no evidence it made a difference in the election result."

Twitter briefly blocked users from sharing the New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop — a decision officials later said was a mistake. We’ve previously examined a poll often cited by Trump allies that suggests telling the tale would have swayed the election. The poll was done by the Polling Company, a conservative pollster founded by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, on behalf of the Media Research Center. Our analysis found that the poll conveniently supported a line that Republicans are pushing — that a lack of media coverage related to the Hunter Biden laptop made a difference in the presidential election.

But when you dig into the results, which are swayed by aggressively misleading questions, it shows that for all but a tiny percentage of Biden voters, the story would not have made a difference — even if framed as a still-unproved scandal. The questions in the poll are similar to messages the Trump campaign used in the final weeks before the election — and it still fell short.

As Rich Noyes explained at the time, we asked about some negative Biden themes and positive Trump themes that the media didn't want to discuss.

In his previous examination, Kessler clucked that our poll should be dismissed because "it’s always difficult to prove something that did not happen" (like Russian collusion?) and "some polls are structured to produce the desired result." Oh, that never happens at The Washington Post polling shop? Kessler admitted he might have a reason to take on this poll. It came from 

Newsbusters, a website that documents what it perceives as a liberal bias in the media. (The website regularly criticizes The Fact Checker.)

Kessler doesn't seem to fathom that the liberal media obviously felt that the Hunter Biden laptop story could be a defining story in the election. Doesn't all the suppression suggest their fear of its impact? But you can only laugh when Kessler claims that blaming media bias is a "stretch."

But all of the lines that were tested were staples of the Trump campaign’s messaging. MRC suggests that media bias prevented those messages from getting through to voters and changing their minds to vote for Trump or even not vote at all. As we noted, that’s a stretch, because it assumes the Biden campaign was not offering its own messages to woo voters that, in the end, were more compelling.

Funny, I thought "Democracy dies in darkness" when the Washington Post isn't putting its big thumbs on the scale.