Media Critic: WDRB GM Bill Lamb's Blast Against Courier-Journal Not Backed With Facts
Update: Bill Lamb has apologizedfor suggesting that the Courier-Journal rigged the SurveyUSA poll.” On Election Night, Nov. 6, 2012, Megyn Kelly and Karl Rove shared a desk on Fox News. Rove was valiantly trying to argue that the polls and state-by-state results were not steadily leading towards an Obama victory, and finally Megyn Kelly asked him:“ Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?” It seems that many people who watched or read Bill Lamb’s recent Point of View editorial had a similar reaction. Lamb suggested that the recent Bluegrass Poll showing Mitch McConnell trailing Alison Lundergan Grimes might have been rigged by The Courier-Journal. His evidence for this startling charge? The paper is “proudly ultra-liberal. They don’t hide it. They don’t pretend they’re objective. They are unabashedly a Democrat mouthpiece.” Never mind the fact that the C-J has endorsed Republicans in the past, such as Anne Northup back in 2004. Never mind the fact that the poll was conducted by “independent, non-partisan” firm SurveyUSA on behalf of The Courier-Journal, WHAS, the Lexington Herald-Leader, and WKYT. Never mind the fact that academic researchers have concluded that SurveyUSA performs “slightly better than other nonpartisan polling organizations” at projecting election results. Never mind the fact that, in order for Lamb’s incredible conspiracy theory to work, The C-J’s czars would need to somehow manipulate or corrupt a research organization that’s more than 20 years old and relied upon by several major national news organizations—and hoodwink the other three news organizations that also funded the survey. Lamb’s charge is a very serious one. Any news organization that deliberately misreported the results of a poll ought not to be trusted. The problem is Lamb’s complete lack of evidence. But we don’t have to dig deep to find his motive for such a charge. As WDRB’s president, general manager and primary commenter, Lamb has made no secret of his conservative positions throughout the years, and his ongoing rivalry with The Courier-Journal is very much public. And all news organizations are permitted to take editorial stances on the issues as long as they maintain a rigorous firewall between the editorial and news departments. The Wall Street Journal is an excellent example: its news division has been labeled liberal while its editorial pages are relentlessly conservative. So Bill Lamb is entitled to his opinion, as are the editorial writers at The Courier-Journal and every other local news operation. But, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan allegedly declared, no one is entitled to his or her own facts. If Lamb knows something about the Bluegrass Poll or SurveyUSA that the rest of us don’t, he should put his excellent team of investigative reporters on the matter. But he doesn’t get to insinuate that the poll is flawed or biased simply because he doesn’t like the results. It would be a shame if WDRB started to expend the credibility earned by its news organization on these types of fact-free partisan rants. Bill Lamb ought to know better. James Miller is WFPL's media critic and a journalism teacher at duPont Manual High School. You can find his past work here.