There’s lies, damn lies, and statistics. And then there’s writing a beat-up story and providing none of the numbers needed to back it up at all.
That’s what Vernon Small’s done today with his breathless call on David Cunliffe. The numbers show more people would vote labour if he was gone! screams Small.
Except the numbers also apparently show more people would vote National if Key was gone:
The effect is sizeable, making a 13.5 percentage point difference to Labour’s vote.
Although a similar effect is seen on National when asked the same question about John Key, it is much smaller.
Just how Small has come to this conclusion we don’t get to know. Because we don’t get to see the numbers. Likewise we don’t get told how many more votes National would supposedly get without Key, or indeed, what the sample size or methodology is. And any methodology that suggests National would do better without Key should be taken with more than a grain of salt.
Basically Vernon Small is making the call that the Leader of the opposition should go just weeks before a general election while refusing to show the numbers he’s basing that call on. It’s almost like he knows they wouldn’t stack up if he made them public.
That’s just irresponsible and it’s getting up there with the Herald on Sunday’s attack over the Donghua Liu bullshit (incidentally, I have heard from a very good source that the HoS didn’t actually have a copy of the Liu statement when they ran that story, despite claiming they did, that’s why they wouldn’t release it.)
Once again, it looks like a Press Council complaint is in order.
You can do so by first emailing the Fairfax Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don’t get a satisfactory response in ten working days you can take your complaint to the Press Council.
You can base your complaints on the Journalism Code of Ethics. 41.a would be a good start:
They [journalists] shall report and interpret the news with scrupulous honesty by striving to disclose all essential facts and by not suppressing relevant, available facts or distorting by wrong or improper emphasis.
UPDATE: They must have had a mild panic attack, the methodology has now been described at the bottom of the article. As you can imagine it’s not particularly sound.