Media Archives

What’s Your Opinion of Opinion Polling?

The science of polling the general public has had its good and bad times, and it appears it’s going through one of those rough patches at the moment. A friend of mine refers to polls as “cricket races”; basically a snapshot of where things are in a particular race, that has as much bearing on our lives as a race amongst crickets. If it’s a slow news day, release the results from a poll, and call it news.

Some might put the word “science” in the phrase “science of polling” in scare quotes, not convinced that it’s much of a science at all. I do have some respect for those whose lives are in various statistical occupations. It seems like a black art, but, for example, one pharmaceutical client I worked for years ago had a Quality Assurance group that tested the products coming into the warehouse before they could be shipped out, and they explained quite a bit to me.  I couldn’t relate what they said now – I really can’t remember it all – but basically, given a good random sample, they could give you a good reading on whether or not the batch that just came in was good enough to ship out. Yeah, the only way to be totally sure was to test it all, but to get close enough to 100% sure without going overboard, there was a lot of science backing up their procedures.

Sampling people, on the other hand, is nowhere near as straightforward as sampling pharmaceuticals. People can say one thing, and yet do another. Which apparently happened in a big way over in the UK recently, when the conservative Tories trounced the liberal Labor Party in national elections, gaining their first outright majority since 1992. This even though Nate Silver, the US polling expert, had a look at all the UK polls and proclaimed that a Tory win of a majority of seats in Parliament was “vanishingly small when the polls closed – around 1 in 500.”

So much for that prediction. But the predictive value of polls is lessened when the pollsters themselves hide some of their results. It happened in the UK, and it happens quite a bit, apparently. No pollster wants to publish results that wind up being way out of line with those from other polls. No one wants to be the outlier, but that’s what happened in the UK. A last-minute poll by one group got the percentages virtually dead on to what the voting results were, but they didn’t publish it, “chickening out”, as the group’s CEO explained. It’s a herd mentality that we see in news coverage as well.

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    From the "Now They Tell Us" Department

    The Associated Press is breaking news that those of us who were paying attention knew about at least 6 months ago.

    The first thing Michelle Pool did before picking a plan under President Barack Obama’s health insurance law was check whether her longtime primary care doctor was covered. Pool, a 60-year-old diabetic who has had back surgery and a hip replacement, purchased the plan only to find that the insurer was mistaken.

    Pool’s $352 a month gold plan through Covered California’s exchange was cheaper than what she’d paid under her husband’s insurance and seemed like a good deal because of her numerous pre-existing conditions. But after her insurance card came in the mail, the Vista, California resident learned her doctor wasn’t taking her new insurance.

    "It’s not fun when you’ve had a doctor for years and years that you can confide in and he knows you," Pool said. "I’m extremely discouraged. I’m stuck."

    Stories like Pool’s are emerging as more consumers realize they bought plans with limited doctor and hospital networks, some after websites that mistakenly said their doctors were included.

    Now we know why her policy’s cheaper. You get what you pay for.

      Benghazi: Smoking Gun, or All Smoke

      When the latest memo to come out of the Benghazi investigation came out…

      OK, let me back up. Actually, the memo was never given to the Congressional investigation. It took a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch for this memo to come out. So for starters, it really looks like the administration did not want this out in public.

      The thrust of the message was clear: Protect Obama’s image (and re-election efforts) at all costs; American interests and the American public’s right to know be damned. It contained four bullet points:

      –”To convey that the United States is doing everything that we can to protect our people and facilities abroad;

      –”To underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy;

      –”To show that we will be resolute in bringing people who harm Americans to justice, and standing steadfast through these protests;

      –”To reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.”

      Remember, this all happened in the heat of the President’s re-election campaign. As to the bullet points, we now know that the US was not doing everything it could to protect the consulate, the protest were not rotted in an Internet video (and the administration knew that almost immediately after the incident), we did not bring anyone to justice (not even now, 20 months after the incident), which goes to show that the President and the Administration do not have strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.

      But the kiester-covering was in full swing and scapegoats were worth their weight in gold.

      In his congressional testimony, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said that then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is the one who linked the video to the Benghazi attacks but that the video was not part of the CIA analysis. In other words, the administration made it up out of whole cloth to deflect blame for its policy failures in relaxing the war on terror…

      Indeed, the day after the event:

      An email on Sept. 12, 2012, to Rice from Payton Knopf, deputy spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, confirmed the attacks were “planned in advance” and “complex,” not spontaneous in reaction to a video.

      Poor Jay Carney had the unenviable job of trying to deny that these memos had anything to do with Benghazi, even though they were provided due to a FOIA request about…Benghazi.

      The fact that they, indeed, speak to the Benghazi issues specifically, but the administration hung on to these memos and did not give them to Darrell Issa and the committee, shows just how revealing they are.

      But only now are the mainstream media noticing this story. The Benghazi hearings have been pitifully covered. The idea that this has been a “Fox News story” (as though they made it up) only came because they gave it the coverage it deserved, while the rest of the media sat on its collective hands. Now, even ABC news reporters found themselves amazed at the stonewalling and dissembling.

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      But even with that, ABC has been very reluctant to report on it. Even the President has called out Fox on this — no other network — so you know it’s been getting short shrift elsewhere. And at other networks, without coming out directly and saying it, the news executives suddenly wouldn’t find time to report on it.

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      Yes, the daily interviews from the committee can be yawners, and it’s not always breaking news. That much is true. But it’s also true that the latest revelations are news, and even that is getting reported primarily by Fox.

      Oh, and MSNBC? Yeah, never mind about them. If it doesn’t have a link to Chris Christie and “Bridgegate” (where nobody died), they don’t care much about it.

      This is important. If you news outlet isn’t covering it, you may need to switch sources.

        Next Step: Accepting "Open Marriage"

        Now that same-sex marriage has been accepted by some states, it’s no longer a draw for the evening news, so ABC News in America has decided to move on to the next big thing; open marriage. These are marriages where fidelity is more of a suggestion than anything else. It’s not polygamy, which at least formally acknowledges, in one manner or another, a lasting relationship with more than one spouse. Instead, open marriage, or polyamory, means two people are legally married while continuing to see other people.

        So ABC News decided to present a generally positive quote-unquote “news” piece about those for whom commitment is something only for mentally disturbed people. The most critical thing said in the whole segment was that reporter Nick Watt thought it just wasn’t his thing, and that his wife wouldn’t like it. But the rest of the segment, including questions to a psychologist, was generally positive. Not a hint of an opposing viewpoint.

        This is what passes for “news” in the 21st century; one-sided advocacy journalism. Even if Watt isn’t personally in favor of it, showing one side only, on a controversial topic, on a news show, is advocacy.

        Do other news organizations do it? Yes, on both sides of the aisle. But while Fox News and the Wall Street Journal get lambasted anytime they don’t play it down the middle, so many liberal news watchers have such a blind spot when something like this airs. Conservative media bias is outrageous. Liberal media bias is…hey look, a unicorn!

        The other issue, of course, is that those who said that same-sex marriage would lead to a slippery slope have been, yet again, proved absolutely on target. We aren’t falling for it, but the news media is pushing.

          A Chilling Effect

          What if I told you that ice levels in Antarctica have reached 35-year record highs? What if I told you that the rise in the surface temperature of the earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that? And what if I told you that the lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace?

          Well figure out what you would do if I told you, because I’m telling you. And I’ll tell you this as well; many climate scientists aren’t sure what to do. They’re trying to come up with explanations, but so far they’re just theories plucked out of thin air.

          When the facts don’t fit the theories, scientists claim that they will rework the theories. Well, so far, we’ve seen little reworking and more digging in. And here’s another “what if”; what if the media gave this as much attention as they did stories of a spot here or a point there where warming is occurring? This isn’t weather, as they love to say; this is a pause in the warming of the climate that they’re having trouble figuring out. What if people were told about this, or is liberal orthodoxy in the media having a chilling effect?

            ObamaCare Navigators Exposed

            James O’Keefe has been exposing fraud with his Project Veritas for years. The oxen that have been the target of his goring have been of the variety that liberals tend to hold dear, which is why, while saying they don’t like fraud, they typically try to marginalize him. And when that doesn’t work, people like Rachel Maddow just make stuff up.

            The latest group to find themselves in front of the cameras of Project Veritas are the ObamaCare “Navigators”, those 50,000 folks who will, if you need it, give you help in getting signed up for the Healthcare Exchanges. Once those exchanges are actually, y’know, working. They’ll get you the lowest premium, even if they have to tell you to commit fraud.

            And it’s not just the fraud that is of concern. Enrollment information is being shared with a political group called Battleground Texas, one that is trying to get more Democrats elected. There’s more in the video, and O’Keefe says this isn’t the last of what he has. Hopefully he’ll get to the issue of no federal background checks being required for these folks.

            O’Keefe’s undercover videos were a major reason that fraud was uncovered in the group ACORN, and it seems like these Navigators are cut from the same cloth. In fact, in some states, they’re one and the same, with former ACORN people forming more groups under different names and supplying people to work as Navigators.

            Yup, if you liked ACORN, you’ll love the ObamaCare Navigators, because both groups seem to have the same agenda. And competence.

              Liberal Magazine Proves Conservatives’ Point

              The magazine The Nation is a liberal-leaning publication; that much is certain. What’s not so certain is whether or not they really understand the topics they cover.

              Here’s a case in point. It recently asked it readers to sign an open letter to Wal-Mart demanding that they pay workers at least $12 an hour. However, another web site, ProPublica, reported, as good news, that, this fall, interns at the Nation Institute, who put out the magazine, will be paid minimum wage for the first time in the history of the 30-year-old program. Up until now they’d been paid at less than minimum wage, when all the while they railed against those who did just that.

              But anyway, that’s good news, right? Those overworked interns will now get the federal minimum wage and have more to spend in our economy. Well, consider this. In a statement to ProPublica on the report, The Nation said that, “We are not yet certain how this will work out long term, but for the fall we are anticipating hiring ten interns rather than twelve.”

              So they’re raising the pay, but hiring fewer workers in response. Wow, now who could have anticipated that?

                Study Shows the Sun Rose Today

                (This is one of the segments of the most recent episode of my podcast, “Consider This!”)

                The NY Times recently reported on a study that, I imagine, came as a shock to most of the Times’ readership. “News organizations are far more likely to present a supportive view of same-sex marriage than an antagonistic view, according to a content study by the Pew Research Center to be released on Monday.” The Pew study also noted that the views of the public at large, contrary to the news reporting, are evenly divided.

                For conservatives, this is like a study showing that the sun rose this morning, or the Pope is actually Catholic. But this paranoia about news coverage does, in fact, prove the adage that it’s not paranoia because, if you have the unapproved viewpoint, they really are out to get you.

                  An Inconvenient Life

                  The Kermit Gosnell and Cleveland kidnapping stories have been raising some questions when it comes to the issue of abortion. Gosnell, certainly (and where it was actually covered), definitely brought back to light the issue of the fine line between abortion and infanticide., at least as abortion supporters define those terms.

                  And the Cleveland kidnapping story is doing it again, from another angle.

                  The problem, once again, is that at the heart of the Gosnell nightmare were the reports that he was DELIVERING late-term fetuses and THEN killing the infants — after delivery. In other words, these infants were no longer “fetuses,” according to the dictionary, when the abortionist snipped their spinal cords.

                  Now, were are seeing some interesting, and related, issues emerging in Cleveland, where prosecutors are preparing to throw the book at the alleged kidnapper and torturer Ariel Castro.

                  The issue is that the state prosecutor may seek the death penalty.

                  Now, from the perspective of the journalists defending a consistent use of the term “fetus,” even when the term is inaccurate (see Gosnell coverage), here is the hard-news question of the moment. If the prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for Castro in this case, who did he kill? What human persons with full dignity and legal rights, under this nation’s current legal regime, died during these alleged crimes?

                  The Get Religion blog takes the angle of how (or if) the reporters "get religion", and it highlights good and bad examples. However, in the Gosnell case, the bad examples were legion. It’ll be interesting to see how the media deal with a death penalty in the Cleveland case.

                    An Inconvenient Truth, Ignored

                    There’s a murder trial going on in Pennsylvania. A doctor was arrested in 2011 for killing 8 people, and the trial has been going on since March 18th. Accusations of beheadings, special treatment for whites, severed feet in jars, 15-year-olds administering anesthesia, unsanitary clinic conditions that spread STDs to unsuspecting women, and multiple state agencies made aware of this but who chose to ignore what was going on.

                    “What?”, you may be asking. “Why isn’t this front-page news?” Indeed, the fact that it isn’t strains credulity. It’s so unbelievable that the popular Snopes website that debunks (or in some cases, “bunks”) urban legends, felt compelled to let its readers know that, yes, that story you see being passed around in e-mail or on Facebook is, indeed, true, and not some made-up legend.

                    Kirsten Powers wrote an opinion piece asking the obvious question of why this isn’t front-page news. The answer, I think, is because all this happened at an abortion clinic. Kermit Gosnell, who has been performing the cheapest and fastest abortions he could possibly perform for over 30 years, finally was arrested, but not after so much damage had already been done.

                    And where is the media in all this? Well, they say they covered the arrest in 2011, so at this point it’s just a local crime issue. Right, like Aurora, and Sandy Hook, and Littleton. As the facts come out, there’s no need to cover that. Rather, let’s talk about a basketball coach behaving badly. Hey look! Rush Limbaugh said something shocking! That doesn’t happen often, right, it must be news!

                    Let’s not talk about babies born alive and having their spinal cords quote-unquote “snipped”. Let’s not talk about deliveries in toilets. Let’s not talk about this little abortion shop of horrors.

                    Why not? Well, as James Taranto wrote, that just might make people think hard about their stance on abortion. They might start to change their minds, two examples of which Taranto mentioned. Oh, let’s make sure they think hard about their stance on guns, or immigration, or whatever else they need to hear about to come to the liberal way of thinking. But the realities of abortion? Doesn’t fit the narrative, so the media ignore it. That’s advocacy, not just in how something’s reported, but whether it’s reported at all.

                    If Kermit Gosnell had killed those women and babies with an AR-15 rifle, you know it would be national news. Or if he were a Christian. Or if he had killed abortion doctor George Tiller. Instead he was performing what the law has contorted into a Constitutional right that the Left enshrines in their political platforms. When what used to be called back-alley abortions are being done right in an alleged clinic, both the government and the media turn a blind eye to it.

                    It doesn’t fit the narrative, and it might (well, it is) changing some minds on this liberal sacrament of abortion. I am of the firm belief that the politics of the issue is directly affecting its coverage. Oh, oh, that liberal media.

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