WDRB General Manager Questions Credibility of Courier-Journal Poll

By Merrill Knox 

bill lamb wdrb point of viewBill Lamb, the general manager at Louisville Fox affiliate WDRB, is under fire for implying in an on-air editorial (video after the jump) that a poll about Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell was “rigged” by the “ultra-liberal” Louisville Courier-Journal. Lamb said the poll — which was conducted by SurveyUSA for The Courier-JournalThe Lexington Herald and two of WDRB’s rival stations, WHAS and WKYT — “not surprisingly” finds McConnell, the incumbent Republican, trailing challenger Alison Grimes 46 to 42 in the U.S. Senate race.

James Miller of WFPL, Louisville’s NPR station, penned a column on the editorial, writing Lamb’s conclusions “are not backed with facts” (links are from the original column):

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.

[…] 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.

In an interview with Jim Romenesko, Lamb disputed claiming the poll was rigged, but said “when a newspaper is as blatantly biased as the Courier-Journal is, you have to question the poll’s credibility.” Romenesko writes:

According to the WDRB-TV transcript, here is what Lamb told viewers: “It stretches credibility to think that a newspaper with time tested bias is not going to rig its polls.

Lamb acknowledged making that statement, and told me: “It does imply that [the survey was rigged] but that’s not exactly what I’m saying. I wish I hadn’t used that word. …[But] the findings go right in line with every editorial they’ve done.”

As for the Courier-Journal, the executive editor said the accusations were “outrageous,” and touted the poll’s credibility: “The poll was supported by four of the largest, most credible news organizations in the state. It was conducted by SurveyUSA, which has a great track record in the industry, including accurately projecting margins in favor of McConnell in his last election.”

Watch Lamb’s editorial below.