Bad Infographic by CNN

Right now, CNN.com’s main page has an infographic running on the Senate results that just plain sucks:

Sucky infographic from CNN

Let’s just list the problems here:

  1. The GOP doesn’t have a majority with 50 Senators; it has control because Dick Cheney is VP. There is no majority in a 50-50 Senate; control is run through the VP to break ties, but that only provides vote-by-vote majorities.
  2. There aren’t 49 Senators and Senators-elect who are announced Democrats; there are 47.
  3. The worst of all: there are two Independent Senators: Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Joe Lieberman from Connecticut. Listing them as Democrats is wrong, because they aren’t. [Despite Joe’s proclamations.] They’re both officially Independents, even though they’ll both caucus with the Democrats.

How should this be fixed?

  1. 47 Democrats.
  2. 2 Independents.
  3. “Needed for Control: 49 Dem, 50 GOP” replaces the “Needed for Majority” text. If you want to add more info, you note that both Independents will side with the Democrats.

It’s just plain horrible work by CNN [and I’m picking on them while there are undoubtedly many other news outlets doing the same thing]; your audience is smart enough to know about Sanders and Lieberman and Cheney, so write the graphics correctly and let the folks do some thinking. The folks that won’t get it probably don’t care about this stuff anyway, so … report the facts and don’t do the analysis in the graphic when it distorts the facts even as it represents some level of truth.

Okay, gripe over.

4 thoughts on “Bad Infographic by CNN”

  1. It’s really a stupid graphic. They’ve been pumping Lieberman as an independent for ages, and then they lump him in with the Dems on this graphic? Why even bother having the Independent bar in that graphic if you’re not going to use it?

  2. Brad: That’s what I want to know! Everyone on TV last night was doing it as a continuum. If I were doing it that way, I’d have

    RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDII

    Note: not to scale

    That’s how you do multiple-party spectra, people! Haven’t any of you read The Economist!?

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