Bogus Election Net Neutrality Connection Gets More Press, And Is Even More Wrong

from the details,-details dept

Apparently the big mainstream reporters don't even bother with basic fact-checking any more. Last week, we wrote about how a bogus story was making the rounds, pretending that this last election was a referendum on net neutrality, after a paid consultant to the broadband industry put up a blog post noting that 95 Democratic candidates who had signed a pro-net neutrality pledge had lost. What was not mentioned by all the press who covered this was that (a) that particular list involved challengers, not incumbents, and almost all of them were in districts where they were almost certainly going to lose anyway (b) if you looked at a different list of incumbent Democrats who signed a pledge supporting net neutrality, none of them lost and (c) if you looked at a list of incumbent Democrats who signed an anti-net neutrality pledge, many of them did, in fact, lose their races to challengers. Point being: this race was not at all about net neutrality, but the press seems to have glommed onto that "all 95 who supported net neutrality lost" and simply refuse to fact-check it at all.

Take, for example, the piece written by reporter Chris Lefkow, of AFP, and published over the weekend -- long after many sites had debunked this particular talking point. In it, Lefkow seems to get pretty much all of the details wrong. Admittedly, he's "paraphrasing" from (notoriously anti-net neutrality) Richard Bennett's blog:
Bennett, in a blog post at, noted that all 95 Democratic members of the House and Senate who had signed a public pledge to protect an "open Internet" had lost their seats in the Republican tidal wave.
Apparently, Lefkow and the AFP (which I had thought was better than this), don't think you need to fact-check even the most basic claims as long as they appear on a blog somewhere. First of all, anyone who paid any attention whatsoever to the election last week would know that between the House and the Senate, 95 seats were not lost -- in total. As I'm writing this up, there are still some races that haven't been officially called, but of the official races, the Dems lost 60 seats in the House and another 6 in the Senate. There are 9 uncalled House races and 1 uncalled Senate race -- so at most, the Democrats could have lost 76 seats. So anyone who even paid minimal attention to the election would know that this claim is false. The 95 number, as we noted, is about 95 Democratic challengers, not incumbents. And yet here's one of the bigger mainstream publications claiming, without any support, that 95 incumbents lost their seats over net neutrality.

And people wonder why no one trusts the big news wires any more.

Filed Under: chris lefkow, journalism, net neutrality
Companies: afp

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  1. icon
    DrClue (profile), 9 Nov 2010 @ 6:46am

    News and lies were married a long time ago.

    Yup , news and lies did indeed marry a long long time ago,
    with the difference between then and now being but the
    size the global news family has grown to.

    Fairly soon , one will get more facts in a cup of spent tea leaves than the combined media (print,electronic etc.)

    At least the referenced story did get one thing correct, there was an election. Of course several alien observers
    laughed themselves to death, disgorging a bevy of three headed bush babies , but thats another story.

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