It used to be that lazy journalists only used polls during election season, now they have just extended the election season so they can be lazy year round. Anyone with a brain knows that numbers can be interpreted many different ways, polling methodologies are vastly different and the margin of error is an important little detail that hardly gets spoken of. Having studied communications research for my masters degree, it drives me nuts to see lazy journalists spouting off about polls when they really have no clue about it. The thing that really drives me nuts is when the margin of error is +/- 4.7% or something close to that. That is a 9.4% swing……uh, that leaves a lot of wiggle room in how people really feel. When the margin of error gets closer to +/- 3%, then you are getting closer to being accurate, but you still have a 6% swing and when journalists or politicians make a claim like “the American people want this….” and they are using figures like 53% for 47% against, well then it’s really a toss up, right?
So if 53% believe one thing or another, do the 47% not matter at all. “The American people want….”, as soon as they make that claim, the minority of 47% or 49% for that matter become invisible. It is much more nuanced than that and for journalists to use those figures to exclude people or marginalize them is just plain wrong. People aren’t numbers, they live and breathe and are affected by decisions, whether they are in the majority or minority. Sometimes the minority need representation too, if we are to claim to be a civilized society.
The whole idea of polling the American public constantly as if we govern by referendum is a bastardization of our political system. There are a lot of reasons why our founding fathers formed our system of government the way they did. I think the health care issue is a prime example of why we don’t rule by referendum. People who have health care and are happy with it, shouldn’t have the power to prevent those who don’t have it from getting it. In this case, the minority needs representation, needs advocates that can represent their interests.
I also have a problem with poll questions that ask the public to be political analysts. Questions like “Do you think the president will win re-election in 2012?”. To be honest, I don’t really give a shit what the mostly uninformed public think might happen in 2 and 1/2 years. Who fucking cares? What purpose does that question serve other than as a crutch for a lazy journalist to spin it the way they want just to get an easy story or soundbite? It’s bad enough having to listen to paid political analysts who spout bullshit and are never accountable for being wrong, now we have to listen to even less informed opinions from people who are watching the Kardashians and American Idle in their spare time.
I have to wonder why polling organizations don’t use bigger samples, the technology allows for it? If they were to get samples of even 2000 instead of the standard 700 – 900 people, they could give much more accurate numbers (I still argue that it doesn’t matter when not near an election). If they had a larger sample, when they break it down into sub groups, those numbers would be more accurate as well. Example, of the Republicans responding to this question, 45% believed this or that. Well, once you start breaking out these numbers, the accuracy drops considerably. But that doesn’t stop journalists from using those inaccurate numbers to bolster there slant on the subject. It gives cover to lazy journalists.
I guess it is futile for me to bitch about it, journalists aren’t going to change and in fact are probably only going to get worse. They’ve been getting away with it for years and have taken it to a whole new level. Hell, Morning Joe on MSNBC wouldn’t have anything to talk about if they didn’t have the latest poll results.
I’m sure all the haters will have reasons why this isn’t real, or wasn’t because of the stimulus, or was because of some other reason…..BITE ME!
Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, (that is, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
I’ve been watching the signs of the recovery for the last 6 months, lots of good or “not so bad” news has been coming for a while, but it has basically been ignored by the media because it doesn’t fit into their current narrative, that President Obama’s presidency has been a failure. Chew on this, bitches. When I see the slanted journalism that paints this picture of failure, I find comfort in the fact that reality will catch up with them and make them look like fools. You can only hide the truth for so long, eventually it finds its way into the public consciousness. President Obama’s speech the other night was one of the first steps in showing the reality of the last year, not what the right wing, Jane Hamsher, Arianna Huffington and Cenk Uygur have been trying to paint. I wonder how they are reacting to this?
The new book “Gamey Change” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin has caused all sorts of stories to spin from this poorly sourced, I heard someone tell someone else, gossipy book about the 2008 election. According to the reviews and stories, it sounds like they went out of their way to just report the petty in-fighting that happens in every election. You know, the kind of crap the catty media loves, they eat that shit up with a spoon. Harry Reid’s comments have been getting most of the attention, but Bill Clinton’s were pretty bitter too, even if they were sourced as a recounting of a conversation with Teddy Kennedy, who is no longer around to clarify.
Lee over at The Rude Pundit is at his best talking about what Harry Reid said. Here is a snippet, go read the whole thing, it’s deliciously rude.
In a 1995 New Yorker interview with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Colin Powell listed the reasons that he was more palatable a black candidate to white Americans than, say, Jesse Jackson: “One, I don’t shove it in their face, you know? I don’t bring any stereotypes or threatening visage to their presence. Some black people do. Two, I can overcome any stereotypes or reservations they have, because I perform well. Third thing is, I ain’t that black.” And he added, “I speak reasonably well, like a white person.” He later clarified to another audience, “I am not that black as a physical matter.” Read more »
I’m starting a new series called the “So What” watch. So much of what passes as news these days is just crap and I find myself often saying so what? Who gives a shit about some of this stuff. Here is one from one of the worst “media” offenders, The Huffington Post. I am not linking to Huffpost, but the original article that they linked to, I don’t want to give them any more clicks than they already get. It’s about “ABC beauty Bianna Golodryga” who just recently got engaged to Peter Orszag, the White House budget director. I guess it’s an attempt to embarrass the white house or something. So What?
Is it just me, or does the media love the phrase “there are many unanswered questions.” Well yeah, questions are freakin easy to ask, whether they are on topic or off topic. It often creates controversy where there is none, implies guilt when there may not be any and is the refuge of the lazy journalist. It’s not a conservative thing or liberal thing, it’s a crappy media thing.