Did everyone in the media fail reading comprehension?

If you grew up and went to college on the east coast of the US in the past 100 years then you’ve probably had to take the SATs.  One important part of the test is reading comprehension, where students have to read a passage and answer questions on it.  In the SATs the passages are pretty complex, much more than say, average political discourse.  However, time and time again journalists seem to fail at relating what someone actually said.

Here are two recent examples, from both political teams, where reporters absolutely failed their reading comprehension tests.

Recently, Hilary Rosen caused outrage from the right when she said that Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life.  Here is her full quote and then we can get on to the questions.

“What you have is Mitt Romeny running around the country saying ‘well, you know, my wife tells me what women really care about is economic issues and when I listen to my wife, that’s what I’m hearing.  Guess what?  His wife has never really worked a day in her life.  She’s never really dealt with the kind of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school…”

Now onto your SAT questions:

In this passage the author implies that Ann Romney “has never really worked a day in her life” because she

A. Is a stay-at-home mom and therefore doesn’t work

B. Is a stay-at-home mom and therefore doesn’t have a job

C. Has never had to struggle or worry about her economic stability.

D. Has Mitt Romney on a leash.

If you said A, then congratulations, you’ve been watching Fox News.  If you said B, then you probably have been over at CNN or work for Obama.  If you said D, then kudos but unfortunately the correct answer was C.  It’s always C.  Some journalists/pundits did manage to pick up on this but managed to be drowned out by the illiterati.

Our next failure in journalism comes from the New York Times writer Jeff Zeleny covering a campaign speech by Rick Santorum.  Addressing the similarities between Romneycare and Obamacare, Santorum said:

“Why would we put someone up who is uniquely – pick any other Republican in the country – he is the worst Republican in the country to put up against Barack Obama. Why would Wisconsin want to vote for someone like that?”

So in this passage, the author suggests Wisconsonians should not vote for Mitt Romney because

A. He is the most evil Republican in the country, albeit probably still better than Democrats.

B. He is awful at being a Republican.

C. Given Romney’s record on healthcare he is uniquely unqualified to debate President Obama on the issue.

D. His wife is unemployed.

If you answered A or B, then congratulations, you have the reading comprehension of Jeff Zeleny.  Following Santorum’s speech,  Zeleny asked him “You said that Mitt Romney was the worst Republican in the country, is that true?”  This turned into the Santorum “Bullshit” Video, with liberals saying that he was stumped by the question and conservatives deriding the “extreme rhetoric.”  Of course, the question sounds like it was written by a child and was just used to provoke a response, which then made news, which unfortunately is further proof that the media is more concerned with making news than reporting it.

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