9News: Allard’s ‘Worst Senator’ rating isn’t newsworthy

KUSA-TV/9News news director Patti Dennis today slammed Colorado Media Matters in which she alleged the statewide media watchdog made an inaccurate statement on its website about the station’s failure to air a story about a SurveyUSA poll. Dennis disputes that the poll was commissioned by 9News which is in contradiction to the national polling organization’s website which requires attribution to KUSA-TV/9News as a sponsor.

Colorado Media Matters credited Colorado Confidential with breaking the story yesterday of SurveyUSA poll’s results – UPDATED: Sen. Allard: Dead Last in Senate Approval Rating.

Denver NBC affiliate KUSA 9News failed to inform its viewers about the results of a SurveyUSA report showing that Colorado Sen. Wayne Allard (R) has the lowest approval rating of any U.S. senator — even though 9News is the polling firm’s “media sponsor” for Colorado.

On July 25, SurveyUSA published on its website and released to news media clients — including KUSA — its monthly comparison of approval ratings for all 100 U.S. senators.” As noted by the website Colorado Confidential, the Survey USA poll found that Allard’s 36 percent approval rating was the lowest in the Senate. In addition, SurveyUSA found that Allard’s “net” approval rating of -12 percent (his 36 percent approval rating minus his 48 percent disapproval rating) was the second lowest in the Senate.

In a phone interview earlier this afternoon with Colorado Confidential, Dennis argued that the story “didn’t fit into the content policy for the day”. When questioned why 9News made the determination that an unflattering poll on Colorado’s senior senator was not covered, she claimed that the story was not relevant. Pressed further, Dennis said “Wayne Allard hasn’t done anything newsworthy”. She stated that the news division was more interested in covering stories about the Middle East and immigration.

The news director declined to specify how 9News determines what is newsworthy after repeated questions about the implications of the story on Colorado’s representation in Washington, DC. This reporter had to make several corrections to Dennis’ inaccurate statements regarding the poll results during the course of the interview. She claimed that Sen. Allard was not last in the polling (untrue, he is listed as 100th) and that Colorado’s junior senator  Ken Salazar was listed as 99th in approval ratings (he was ranked 57th).

Dennis further stated that the survey was not initiated by 9News but was conducted by SurveyUSA on its own. However, the SurveyUSA website clearly states – on the poll in question – that KUSA-TV is the organization’s sole media sponsor in Colorado. An email to SurveyUSA has not yet been responded to asking for clarification on its media sponsor policies and procedures.

Despite 9News’ determination on the newsworthiness of the poll, the National Journal’s Hotline [subscription  required to read the article in question] carried the story in addition to several other SurveyUSA media sponsors which reported on the results of their own home state senators. An article in this morning’s Rocky Mountain News also referenced Allard’s poor showing on the poll once it was released to the public.

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