Question


A major network news organization experienced a drop in viewership in the week following the airing of a controversial report on the economy. The network also received a very large number of complaints regarding the report. The network, however, maintains that negative reactions to the report had nothing to do with its loss of viewers.

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the network’s position?

(Because of copyrights, the complete official question is not copied here. You can access the question here: GMAT Club)

Difficulty: Medium

Accuracy: 73%

Based on: 7723 sessions

Solution


The Story

A major network news organization experienced a drop in viewership in the week following the airing of a controversial report on the economy. – A news organization aired a controversial report. The next week the channel experienced a drop in viewership.
(This statement only talks about those events happening one after there other. We don’t know yet whether the drop was because of the controversial report.)

The network also received a very large number of complaints regarding the report. – So there was some backlash. The network received a lot of complaints regarding the report.

The network, however, maintains that negative reactions to the report had nothing to do with its loss of viewers. – Despite the complaints, the network claims that the drop in viewership was not caused by the negative reactions to the report.

Gist:
A network wired a controversial report.
The network received complaints regarding the report.
The network experienced a drop in viewership.

Even then, the network maintains that the negative reactions were unrelated to the drop in viewership.

Question Stem

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports the network’s position?

The network’s position: Despite the many complaints, the drop in viewership and negative reaction were unrelated.

Prediction:
We have to find something that supports this position.
In other words, what might increase my confidence in the network’s position?

If I learn of an unrelated reason for the drop in viewership, the network’s position would be supported. e.g. The week was the start of the summer break and most families with kids in school or college would have gone somewhere for a vacation.

Answer choice analysis


Answer Choice: A

Correct

Selected by: 73%

Aha! If the drop was consistent across networks, the cause was probably unrelated to the individual actions of a network. This answer choice leads me to believe more strongly than before in the network’s position that the negative reactions and loss of viewers were unrelated events.

This answer choice does not give me a reason for the loss of viewers. The report, however, was controversial. So, by stating that other major networks also experienced similar reductions during the same week, I start to doubt that the negative reactions to the report led and the loss of viewers were related.

A common reason for why test-takers reject this answer choice: What if all news organizations aired the same controversial report?

  • The report was controversial. So, probably it wasn’t aired by all major networks.
  • Even if it could have been, we don’t decide the impact of a statement based on a particular possibility. The way to evaluate an answer choice in a strengthen question is to check what happens to our overall confidence in the argument once the information in the answer choice comes to light?
  • In the current context, once I learn that other major networks also reported similar reductions in viewership, I start to believe more than before that the negative reactions and the loss of viewers are unrelated. Thus, the network’s position is supported. That’s all we are looking for: ‘support’, not a confirmation.

Answer Choice: B

Incorrect

Selected by: 5%

If it is the regular viewers who complained, then I’d expect there to be a drop in viewership. If anything, this answer choice weakens the network’s position.


Answer Choice: C

Incorrect

Selected by: 3%

This network did receive complaints about the controversial report. So, it could have publicly attributed the drop to the report.
That is all that we learn from this answer choice – under what circumstance might a network attribute drops in viewership to their report publicly.

This answer choice talks about the ‘Public Relations’ angle of the news organizations – in what situation the news organizations might or might not publically attribute drops in viewership to their reports. However, the answer choice does not talk at all about what might or might not have caused the drop in viewers in the first place. Irrelevant.


Answer Choice: D

Incorrect

Selected by: 16%

So the network had aired controversial reports in the past as well. And the reports led to viewers complaining as well.
However, did the network lose viewers in the past? And, even if it did, was the loss related to the negative reactions?

This answer choice is the most commonly selected incorrect answer.

Even if we assume that the network did lose viewers in the past too? Then we’d start to believe that perhaps the drop in viewers and the negative reactions are related.
So, even in that case, the answer choice would mildly weaken.
We have to find an answer that supports the network’s position. The position is that negative reactions were unrelated to the loss of viewers.
This answer choice does not corroborate the link between negative reactions and drop in viewership. Even if we assume that there was a drop in viewers in the past well, the answer simply weakens the argument, and so would still be incorrect.


Answer Choice: E

Incorrect

Selected by: 3%

How do the viewers consume the news, are the networks their primary source of information regarding economy, etc do not help me understand whether the viewers left because of the negative reactions or some other reason. We do not learn anything to better answer that question. Irrelevant. No impact.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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