National Journal's Self-Beclowning: Their Ideological Rankings of Congress Are Embarrassing.

In post Tea Party Washington, D.C., National Journal is signaling it wants to be an un-evolved troglodyte when it comes to the ideological prisms of Washington power.

I think National Journal must hand over its rating of the most conservative and liberal members of congress to an outsourced shop in Mumbai filled with mental midgets. There can really be no other explanation for this year’s embarrassing list of the most conservative members of Congress.

What is so stunning about it is that if you go to outside actual conservative organizations like the Club For Growth or the Heritage Foundation, etc. and see how conservatives define conservatives, the list won’t line up the way the mainstream left-of-center oriented biases of National Journal have lined up the list. One of the issues is how National Journal cherry picks its legislation. Even more embarrassing, National Journal appears more interested in using “conservative” for “Republican” and “liberal” for “Democrat.” In other words, these rankings tend to draw out partisans more than ideologies, while bastardizing the language of ideology to conform the rankings to partisanship.

I assume the liberal list is as stupid as the conservative list.

The National Journal list, for example, would have you believe that Orrin Hatch is more conservative than Mike Lee in Utah.

According to National Journal, James Inhofe is more conservative than Jim DeMint by 2.3 points, but Jim DeMint is only 0.5 points more conservative than Mitch McConnell who is 11.4 points more conservative than Senator Rand Paul and also 2.4 points more conservative than Marco Rubio.


In other words, National Journal is full of it in a way that I think it should be hard for such a respectable organization to be. I cannot believe some editor did not have the good sense to sit down, look at the rankings, and think, “My God, we will turn into a joke if we put this out.” Because guess what? They are a joke today in my inbox. I cannot believe any conservative or liberal will take the rankings seriously. The humorous emails I’m getting from Hill staffers and even a few reporters confirm just how laughable it all is. And every single email expresses the same sense of disappointment that National Journal, of all organizations, would get it so badly wrong.

What is so troubling though, and what explains just how dumbed down and mentally deficient so much political coverage in Washington has become, is that National Journal is an extremely respected organization. Even I rely on their reporting as close to fair. I have a stack of stuff from National Journal just for today’s radio show.

So when a respected organization like National Journal produces a ratings chart of conservatism that so misses the mark and deviates so far from what conservatives themselves would produce, it not only will lead reporters in Washington astray who will see the National Journal imprimatur and not realize just how off the mark the ratings are, but it will also shape coverage of candidates in a way that fails the capture the nuance of what is actually happening within both the conservative and liberal wings of the parties in Washington today.


Republican does not mean conservative. Democrat does not mean liberal. But you’d be hard pressed to get this in these rankings. In post Tea Party Washington, D.C., National Journal is signaling it wants to be an un-evolved troglodyte when it comes to the ideological prisms of Washington power. Because I respect the organization so much, I am so much more disappointed it can’t evolve past the nineties in how it covers ideology and party.


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