If you live in Washington, D.C. like me, you might have been startled to pick up this morning’s Washington Post and read this headline above the front-page lead story:

Public Option Gains Support
Clear Majority Now Backs Plan
Americans Still Divided on Overall Packages

Wha–? Didn’t yesterday’s Rasmussen poll reveal that way more Americans oppose Obamacare than favor it?

Well, heh heh, so does the Washington Post’s poll! 48 percent of Americans opposed to the Dem versions of health-care reform floating through Congress and 45 percent all for the bills. That’s what the “Americans Still Divided on Overall Packages” means in the headline. “Divided” but mostly against, just as the Rasmussen numbers showed.

Kudos to Jules Crittenden (finder’s fee to Instapundit) for exposing what he calls the Post’s “cherry-picking” approach to yet another piece of news revealing that Americans aren’t thrilled about paying more taxes and watching the deficit spiral in exchange for lousier medical services. Needless to say, Crittenden’s highlighting of the Post’s slice-and-dice story, leading off with an uptick in support for a government-run healthcare plan that masks the real news–that Obama’s two months of relentless promotion of Obamacare hasn’t budged the generally negative public an inch–tells you a lot about the mainstream media’s objectivity.

Here’s how the Post patched together a pro-Obamacare story out of generally anti-Obamacare facts (I’ve added the boldface)::

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that support for a government-run health-care plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and wins clear majority support from the public.


But in a sign of the fragile coalition politics that influence the negotiations in Congress, Obama’s approval ratings on health-care reform are slipping among his fellow Democrats even as they are solidifying among independents and seniors. Among Democrats, strong approval of his handling of the issue has dropped 15 percentage points since mid-September.

***    …

Overall, 45 percent of Americans favor the broad outlines of the proposals now moving in Congress, while 48 percent are opposed, about the same division that existed in August, at the height of angry town hall meetings over health-care reform. Seven in 10 Democrats back the plan, while almost nine in 10 Republicans oppose it. Independents divide 52 percent against, 42 percent in favor of the legislation.

There are also deep splits in the new poll over whether the proposed changes would go too far or not far enough in expanding coverage and controlling costs. Twice as many see the plan as leaning toward too much government involvement, but since last month there has been a nine-point increase in the number who say government should be more involved.

On the issue that has been perhaps the most pronounced flash point in the national debate, 57 percent of all Americans now favor a public insurance option, while 40 percent oppose it. Support has risen since mid-August, when a bare majority, 52 percent, said they favored it.

Mmm hmm. Crittenden comments: :

.…Americans are a fickle bunch. Maybe they like the public option better because Obama agreed to drop it. Anyway, given the article’s general litany of bad polling news for Obama and the Dem Cong, the lede probably should be a little less chipper.

Maybe something like, “Despite an ironic, slight uptick in popularity for a key signature principle the president has abandoned and large majorities think is a financial boondoggle, his effort continues to bomb with voters and flounder in Congress.”

I myself would point out that the Post’s misleading spin also veers toward the logical fallacy of composition: implying that what’s true of the part (support for the public option) is equally true of the whole (support for Obamacare in general). Hey, Washington Post, we readers aren’t that dumb!