The Washington Post certainly waited until the last-minute, the day before the mid-term elections, to run a story pointing out how soldiers in Iraq are committed to the mission and don't want the U.S. to leave, but they should get kudos for printing the article which contradicts the assumptions of much of the media's reporting on Iraq, “Soldiers in Iraq Say Pullout Would Have Devastating Results” -- though the paper's editors only squeezed it onto page A-13. From “Forward Operating Base Sykes,” Post correspondent Josh White disclosed that he talked to “dozens of soldiers across the country” and they feared “leaving Iraq now would have devastating consequences.”
White reported in the article published November 6: “With a potentially historic U.S. midterm election on Tuesday and the war in Iraq a major issue at the polls, many soldiers said the United States should not abandon its effort here. Such a move, enlisted soldiers and officers said, would set Iraq on a path to civil war, give new life to the insurgency and create the possibility of a failed state after nearly four years of fighting to implant democracy.” In addition, “the soldiers...expressed support for the Bush administration's approach to the war, which they described as sticking with a tumultuous situation to give Iraq a chance to stand on its own.”
Somehow, in the midst of all the surprising polling data released on Sunday, this article by Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell went unnoticed. In her piece entitled “Balance and Bias on the Political Beat,” Howell pointed out some problems with the paper’s coverage of Sen. George Allen (R-Virginia) and senatorial candidate Michael Steele of Maryland (emphasis mine throughout):
Allen supporters think he can't catch a break; I sympathize. The macaca coverage went on too long, and a profile of Allen was relentlessly negative without balancing coverage of what made him a popular governor and senator.
What a difference a week makes – along with a huge gaffe by a former presidential candidate, and some unexpected changes in polling results.
The New York Times has published an Election Day article entitled “For Democrats, Even a Gain May Feel Like a Failure” (hat tip to AJ Strata) that dramatically lowered the bar of expectations for the Party of Pelosi and Reid. The piece by Adam Nagourney ominously began:
In most midterm elections, an out-of-power party picking up, say, 14 seats in the House and five seats in the Senate could call it a pretty good night.
But for Democrats in 2006, that showing would mean coming up one seat shy of taking control of both the Senate and the House. And it would probably be branded a loss — in the case of the House, a big one.
Here’s a shocking thought for your Election Day: A Keith Olbermann-style anchorman on every television news program on every channel spewing vitriol and animus as only he can. Some Halloween trick, huh? Well, if Aaron Barnhart, television critic of the Kansas City Star is right, this could be the case in the near future (hat tip to TVNewser).
Barnhart’s column on Monday entitled “Numbers look good for Keith Olbermann; Is MSNBC newscaster's 'Countdown' journalism's saving grace?” absolutely gushed praise on America’s premiere Bush-hater (emphasis mine throughout):
Keith Olbermann is, to date, the most perfect expression of [the fake newsman] idea. As he continues to pick up steam -- that he will pass CNN’s Paula Zahn for second place at 7 p.m. seems inevitable -- it’s worth asking if his brand of journalism will be, and should be, the future of TV journalism.
Election Day is upon us which means it's time for an official NewsBusters predictions thread.
Unlike other places, though, there's an actual prize for being correct. The commenter who most closely predicts the margin of both houses of congress will win a free Apple Ipod Nano. Entries must be submitted before 11:00 AM Eastern time. (Please do not post anything other than numeric predictions on this thread.)
Update 16:42. Comments are reenabled on this post. The chat server is also available at live.newsbusters.org.
This is just too delicious. Propagandist Michael Moore posted a message at his website Monday beseeching folks to vote for Democrats (hat tip to Michelle Malkin). Big surprise, right? However, trust me, it’s worth a chuckle: “Tomorrow night, those who sent 2,800 of our soldiers to their deaths -- all because of a lie the president concocted -- will find out if America chooses to reward them -- or remove them.”
Nice beginning, huh? Just imagine the kind of person that is motivated by this kind of stuff. Probably a Keith Olbermann fan, right? Alas, Moore was just warming up:
And, in truth, many journalists are probably rooting for a Democratic House. But not for the reason you might think. After six years of almost uninterrupted GOP control of Washington, divided government would produce what reporters like best: conflict. A spate of investigations and subpoenas of the Bush White House, led by such new committee chairmen as John Dingell, Henry Waxman, Barney Frank and Charlie Rangel, would liven things up for the capital's chroniclers.
Of course a divided government and the conflict it would produce will weaken the country and make us more susceptible to terrorist attacks, but who ever accused journalists of trying to make the U.S. stronger or safer? The job of journalists is to sell newspapers, not protect this great nation.
Contending that “it's hard to imagine there have been many elections more important than this one, certainly not in non-presidential years,” MSNBC's Keith Olbermann ended his election-eve Countdown show with another anti-Bush diatribe in which he urged viewers to vote against the administration -- though this was his shortest, at just under five minutes. Olbermann saw suspicious timing in the death penalty assessed Sunday on Saddam Hussein: “Each of us must wonder about the convenience of the timing of his conviction and sentencing.” Mocking Bush's assertion that if radicals takeover in the Middle East the price of gas will soar, Olbermann asked Bush whether he went “to war in Iraq to break the bonds of tyranny there, while installing the mechanisms of tyranny here?” and then proposed: “Or did you go to war in Iraq to keep gas prices down?”
Olbermann complained: "Having frightened us, having bullied us, having lied to us, having ignored and rewritten the Constitution under our noses, having stayed the course, having denied you've stayed the course, having belittled us about 'timelines' but instead extolled 'benchmarks,' you've now resorted, sir, to this? We must stay in Iraq to save the $2 gallon of gas?” He argued: "Mr. President, there is no other conclusion we can draw as we go to the polls tomorrow. Sir, you have been making this up as you went along.” And Olbermann fretted: “Saddam Hussein will get out of Iraq the same way 2,832 Americans have and maybe thousands more. He'll get out faster than we will.” He concluded to exhorting his viewers to return “checks and balances” to the political system, slamming the Bush administration: "Unchecked and unbalanced. Vote."
Of late, we've been treated to the sound of careless political reporters and analysts tossing around figures of Democrats taking back the House by varying degrees of hugeness.
In many cases, these predictions are simply wishful thinking on the part of left-wingers eager to see Republican evil (the only kind there is) beat back by the forces of good. Some of our prognosticating pundits are basing their predictions on actual polling, however.
Trouble is, their math, based somewhat on faulty "generic ballot" polls and primarily on the work of political analysts Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook, is downright horrible.
With marketing decisions like this you have to wonder why MSNBC is even bothering to compete with Fox News: Left-wing commentators Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann will be anchoring the network's Election Night coverage.
What better way to get non-liberal viewers to tune in to your channel than to have an anchor duo headed up by a former Democratic staffer who couldn't stop smiling at the thought that his fellow party members will take Congress and a genuine leftist who routinely calls Republicans nazis, fascists, terrorists, liars, and everything in between?
As always, we'll be watching so you don't have to (Hat tip: Extreme Mortman).
ABC's Kate Snow wrapped up a Monday night story on the impact of the large number of Democratic women candidates for Congress by celebrating how if “female voters choose a lot of women tomorrow night, Charlie, there will also be another historic first as you know: The first female Speaker of the House." Anchor Charles Gibson reiterated: "She would be the 52nd Speaker of the House, but the first woman." Neither uttered the name of "that woman,” Nancy Pelosi.
Citing the words of the late left-wing activist Bella Abzug, whom he benignly described as a “New York Democrat,” Gibson had set up the story by recalling how she “famously won a congressional seat 36 years ago with the slogan, 'this woman's place is in the house -- the House of Representatives.'” Snow fondly reminisced about how “1992 was dubbed the Year of the Woman” and “tomorrow night may rival that” since “by most projections, it will be the biggest incoming class of women ever on Capitol Hill.” Snow then listed several Democratic candidates, focusing on Lois Murphy, who “ran against Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach two years ago and lost by just 6,400 votes. This, she believes, is her year." Snow touted how “of the 45 women challenging male incumbents, just 11 are Republicans, 34 are Democrats. Democrats need to gain 15 seats to take back control of the House and women could be key to that.” Ellen Malcolm of EMILY's List got air time to trumpet how the female victories “really sets the stage if we have a woman running for President in the near future." (Transcript follows)
On Monday's Special Report with Brit Hume -- broadcast from FNC's (pretty dark) Manhattan headquarters instead of Washington, DC -- Fred Barnes, Morton Kondracke and Bill Kristol made some last-minute predictions on what will occur in Tuesday's election. All three agreed that Democrats, who need to capture 15 more seats to re-gain a majority in the House, will succeed. Barnes pegged the Democratic pick-up at 20 to 25 seats, Kondracke at 25 to 30 seats and Kristol at 35 to 40 seats.
In the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of six seats to take control (counting expected independent victors Sanders of Vermont and Lieberman of Connecticut as organizing with Democrats), only Barnes was confident Republicans will hold the upper body -- but he didn't give a number. Kristol and Kondracke hedged their bets as both forecast a 50-50 split, which Vice President Cheney could break in favor of Republicans, or a 51 to 49 Democratic majority.
...memories of 1980s media bias when it comes to U.S. coverage of Nicaragua.
Fans [of Daniel Ortega] waved a sea of Sandista [sic] flags -- some in the traditional red-and-black stripes of Ortega's 1979 revolution that toppled the corrupt Somoza dynasty...
Somoza was toppled by a broad coalition the goals of which were subsequently hijacked by the Marxist-Leninist Ortega brothers.
During his first presidency, Ortega became a symbol of U.S. fears that a communist wildfire could sweep the Americas in the 1980s.
Ortega is more than a symbol. He's a real guy, and USSR and Cuba-funded civil wars were not a "fear" in the 1980s, but a reality. The civil war in El Salvador, for instance, really happened.
As the seventh leftist leader to win office in recent years in a Latin America increasingly at odd [sic] with U.S. dictates, Ortega's victory represents both a symbolic and a strategic blow to President George W. Bush.
Many political analysts called it a self-inflicted wound, saying United States made the Cold War dinosaur who will lead this desperately poor, banana-exporting, New York-sized nation of 5.5 million into a far more important figure that he is.
CNN’s Jack Cafferty chose the day before the election to morph into a complete Daily-Kos/left wing clone. He slammed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as "an obnoxious jerk and a war criminal." The comments, made in reference to an editorial in the ‘Military Times’ newspapers, came during the 4pm hour of Monday’s "Situation Room." A transcript of the November 6 segment, which began at 4:11pm with Cafferty reading from the editorial, is below:
Jack Cafferty: "‘The time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard, bruising truth. Donald Rumsfeld must go.’ That is a quote from an editorial in this week’s ‘Military Times’ newspapers. The independent publications owned by Gannett, include ‘The Army Times,’ ‘The Navy Times,’ ‘Air Force Times,’ and ‘Marine Corps Times.’ The piece goes on to say, quote, ‘Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the Secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.’ They didn’t even mention that he’s also an obnoxious jerk and a war criminal.
In an election year gift to Democrats, Sunday’s "60 Minutes" pointed out GOP failings in Congress on the eve of a crucial midterm election, hitting the Republican Congress over failure to control spending and in particular, earmarks. "60 Minutes" has a history of running stories like these on the show preceding an important election. In 2002, correspondent Morley Safer provided a forum for liberal columnist Molly Ivins to hype the candidacies of two Texas Democrats running for state wide office, while providing no counterpoint from a conservative or Republican in the piece.
On Sunday, Safer profiled Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake about earmarks and government spending, unfortunately Safer portrayed earmarks as the only wasteful spending in Washington. In an attempt to discourage conservatives and demoralize the GOP base, "60 Minutes" attacked the Republican Congress over its failure to limit spending. Safer invoked the name of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and equated earmarks with corruption while lamenting Congress’ wasteful spending.
How accurate are polls at predicting a winner? Not too. So long as a candidate is within 10 points, most polls shouldn't be readily relied on as predictors for who will win. Charles Franklin, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin has an interesting post today about just how important the "margin of error" really is.
On a graph, Franklin compares poll results with actual election results, resulting in several observations, one of which is the importance of realizing that polls cannot reliably predict races that are less than 10 points apart.
One interesting feature is that a margin of zero (a tied poll) produces
a 50-50 split in wins with remarkable accuracy. There is nothing I did
statistically to force the black trend line to go through the
"crosshairs" at the (0, .5) point in the graph, but it comes awfully
close. So a tied poll really does predict a coin-flip outcome.
probability of a win rises or falls rapidly as the polls move away from
a margin of zero. By the time we see a 10 point lead in the poll for
the Dem, about 90% of the Dems win. When we see a 10 point margin for
the Rep, about 90% of Reps win. That symmetry is also not something I
forced with the statistics-- it represents the simple and symmetric
pattern in the data.
More practically, it means that polls rarely miss the winner with a 10 point lead, but they DO miss it 10% of the time.
5 point lead, on the other hand, turns out to be right only about
60-65% of the time. So bet on a candidate with a 5 point lead, but
don't give odds. And for 1 or 2 point leads (as in some of our closer
races tomorrow) the polls are only barely better than 50% right in
picking the winner. That should be a sobering thought to those enthused
by a narrow lead in the polls. Quite a few of those "leaders" will
lose. Of course, an equal proportion of those trailing in the polls
So read the polls-- they are a lot better than
nothing. But don't take that 2 point lead to the bank. That is a
failure to appreciate the practical consequences of the margin for
Just four days before the election, the network news shows downplayed reports of a major drop in the unemployment rate and the creation of 231,000 new jobs. CBS’s Katie Couric groused, “But do the jobs out there pay enough?” NBC’s Brian Williams declared, “That was below expectations,” and ABC’s Charles Gibson gave the issue a total of 15 seconds.
That wasn’t the way the networks handled bad news in 2002 and 2004, when the final employment reports before Election Day were disappointing. On both occasions, ABC’s “World News Tonight” began its broadcast discussing the negative reports.
On Friday night, the PBS news show "Now" wrapped up its last show before the election by bringing on so-called "conservative" blogger Andrew Sullivan to explain why he’s telling everyone to vote Democrat. Apparently, voting Democrat is the right way to get low taxes, small government, and a competent defense. What? That’s odd, considering the show began by quoting this "conservative iconoclast" claiming "We're talking not so much about an election anymore; we're talking about an intervention. We're talking about getting these people to recognize reality."
"Now" host David Brancaccio gave viewers no shred of a clue that would make Sullivan look less than conservative, from being an editor of the liberal magazine The New Republic in the 1990s, to blogging now for Time magazine online, to his rabid support for John Kerry in 2004, to his most obvious crusade -- as a fervent lobbyist for the gay-left agenda. (The screen only read he was a blogger for the "Daily Dish," the title of his blog on Time.com.) It began with a compliment:
Brancaccio: "What is a nice conservative like you doing telling your friends and your readers to abstain from voting next week or worse?"
Sullivan: "I've done more. I've said 'vote Democrat.' Look, I'm an old-fashioned conservative. I believe in small government. I believe in low taxes. I believe in balanced budgets. I believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, states' rights and a strong competent defense. So, on all those issues, I have no choice but to oppose this president. The only way to get him to acknowledge reality and grapple with reality is by backing the Democrats."
As you’ve probably already heard, journalists are insisting that tomorrow’s elections are a referendum on Iraq — so don’t even think about voting based on where the candidates stand on extending or rescinding the effective Bush tax cuts.
On this morning’s Today, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews (a highly opinionated anti-war Democrat who will nonetheless anchor the network’s election night coverage) actually warned voters that if they don't vote Democratic, the President will regard it as a mandate to continue fouling up in Iraq.
“If you go in the voting booth and you say ‘yes’ to the Republican Party, the whole world press, everywhere in the world, they’re gonna report Wednesday morning, ‘Bush does okay in the election.’ If the people vote ‘no,’ the world press will say, ‘Bush’s Iraq policies were rejected.’ And by the way, the President will read it that way. If you vote Republican Tuesday, the President will say, ‘Thank you for supporting my war policy.’ It’s about Iraq, Iraq, Iraq and there’s no real other big issue,” Matthews told co-host Meredith Vieira.