W. Va. Aftermath: Media Props Up Blankenship, Accepts Zero Responsibility for It W. Va. Aftermath: Media Props Up Blankenship, Accepts Zero Responsibility for It – NTK Network

W. Va. Aftermath: Media Props Up Blankenship, Accepts Zero Responsibility for It

“Blankenship surging on eve of West Virginia Senate primary,” one headline blared over the weekend. By Tuesday night, he finished a distant third.

By NTK Staff | 05.09.2018 @11:30am
W. Va. Aftermath: Media Props Up Blankenship, Accepts Zero Responsibility for It

The media’s obsession with ex-con Don Blankenship, the former coal baron who ran in West Virginia’s GOP primary to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin, reached peak levels over the weekend when Politico ran the headline, “Blankenship surging on eve of West Virginia Senate primary.” The headline was based on anonymous, unverified polling that Politico took at face value.

The Weekly Standard followed up by publishing the actual polling data, which showed Blankenship defying all public polling and leading the race with 31 percent. Rep Evan Jenkins (R-WV) had 28 percent, and the candidate who actually won on Tuesday night, state Attorney General Patrick Morrissey, finished in third with 27 percent.

Who conducted the poll? Where did it come from? These media outlets aren’t saying, and they’re certainly not explaining why they chose to publish it. Public polling to date had shown Blankenship languishing behind his rivals in the mid-teens. Regardless, the result was immediate. A cascade of headlines followed publication:

The Guardian: From prison to GOP Senate pick? Ex-coal boss Don Blankenship in close race

Real Clear Politics: Did GOP Create Room for Spoiler Blankenship in W.Va.?

Roll Call: Why Don Blankenship Is Still In the Mix on Eve of West Virginia Primary

CNN: Don Blankenship looks to send Trump a message with a primary win in West Virginia

Perhaps the most galling of the above headlines is CNN’s. That story claimed Blankenship intended to “send Trump a message with a primary win.” It ran on May 8 – primary day. By May 9, the same reporter who wrote that story, Harry Enten, had suddenly changed his tune.

Instead, his new headline told readers they “should be wary of internal data and polls.”

Perhaps it’s Enten and his media colleagues who, as supposed gatekeepers of the news, should be wary of publishing unsubstantiated data.

Some, like the Washington Post‘s Amber Phillips, were indignant. “Don Blankenship lost, but that doesn’t mean the GOP is rid of its Don Blankenship problem,” her headline read hours after he lost by 15 percentage points.

Ultimately Blankenship came in a distant third. He earned a meager 27,000-plus votes, which trailed Morrissey’s total by about 20,000 votes. Blankenship’s vote total even trailed Paula Jean Swearengin, the virtually unknown Democrat challenger to Manchin.

Despite his embarrassing defeat, Blankenship isn’t the biggest loser from Tuesday’s West Virginia primaries. That honor goes to the news media.

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