Saunders Discredits Media-highlighted Schroeder Slam on Conservative Intellect

FNC's Brit Hume on Monday night picked up on a column by the San Francisco Chronicle's Debra Saunders which discredited the media spin on an AP/Ipsos poll that found liberals read one more book a year than conservatives, a finding Pat Schroeder, President of the Association of American Publishers claimed illustrated how conservatives can't think beyond slogans. The AP and CNN's Jack Cafferty both jumped on Schroeder's slam. Hume noted that Saunders “says Ipsos told her the one book difference between liberals and conservatives is within the poll's margin of error and not statistically significant. The company also said that since the poll did not ask respondents if they read newspapers or magazines, it does not, therefore, say anything about their general level of knowledge or information.”

Last Tuesday, the AP distributed a story (Breitbart version, Yahoo posting) with Schroeder's comments, “Book Chief: Conservatives Want Slogans.” Al Fram's dispatch began:
Liberals read more books than conservatives. The head of the book publishing industry's trade group says she knows why -- and there's little flattering about conservative readers in her explanation.

"The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes,'" Pat Schroeder, president of the American Association of Publishers, said in a recent interview. "It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes' on every page."

Schroeder, who as a Colorado Democrat was once one of Congress' most liberal House members, was responding to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll that found people who consider themselves liberals are more prodigious book readers than conservatives....
Matthew Sheffield's take on the AP poll and the lack of data released for it.

CNN's Jack Cafferty couldn't resist highlighting how the poll found liberals read more books than conservatives, though only by one book -- nine to eight books with moderates reading only five in the past year. His "Cafferty File" question, during the 4pm EDT hour of the August 22 Situation Room, presumed the relevance of the poll finding: "Liberals read more books than conservatives. Why?" Cafferty had outlined Schroeder's spin:
“The head of a book publishing industry trade group offers this explanation. Pat Schroeder says, 'The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a few slogans. Things like no new taxes.' No surprise here. Pat Schroeder was a formerly liberal member -- a former member of Congress who is a liberal. She says liberals can't say anything is less than a whole paragraph. Mary Matalin, who is a Republican strategist, says that conservatives don't read less. They just get their information from different places, such as magazines or the Internet.”
Matthew Balan's NB posting on Cafferty's segment.

Hume's “Grapevine” item in full on the August 27 Special Report with Brit Hume:
Last week we told you about a poll by the Associated Press and Ipsos Research Company that indicated liberals read slightly more books than conservatives each year. Association of American Publishers President Pat Schroeder -- a former liberal Congresswoman from Colorado -- said that what she called "The Karl Roves of the world" had built a generation of conservatives who wanted only simple slogans such as "no new taxes." But columnist Debra Saunders of Creators.com says Ipsos told her the one book difference between liberals and conservatives is within the poll's margin of error and not statistically significant. The company also said that since the poll did not ask respondents if they read newspapers or magazines, it does not, therefore, say anything about their general level of knowledge or information.
An excerpt from the August 26 San Francisco Chronicle column by Debra Saunders, “Bookless versus clueless,” which the DrudgeReport.com had showcased on Sunday:
WHEN a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll found, as reported by the Associated Press, that "liberals read more books than conservatives," the president of the American Association of Publishers promptly shoved her foot in her mouth.

Pat Schroeder, the former Democratic congresswoman from Colorado, proclaimed, "The Karl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple of slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes.' It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes,' on every page."

She also told AP that liberals "can't say anything in less than paragraphs. We really want the whole picture, want to peel the onion."

Maybe you shouldn't pay any attention to me. According to Schroeder, as a conservative, I've got a bumper sticker for brains. Silly me, I looked into the poll -- which liberals have hailed as proof of their intellectual superiority -- and there's not a lot there in "the whole picture." The poll found that among people polled who read at least one book in the last year, liberals read nine books and conservatives read eight.

When I called Michael Gross, associate vice president of Ipsos public affairs, to find out more about the Ipsos poll, he told me the one-book difference "is within the margin of error, it's not a statistically significant difference."

The poll also found that moderates who said they read at least one book a year, on average, read five books a year. By Schroeder's lights, moderates must be really simple-minded sloganeers.

As a conservative, I am not proud to read that 34 percent of conservatives -- as opposed to 22 percent of liberals and moderates -- said they had read a book within the last year.

Then again, because the poll did not ask people if they read newspapers or magazines, Gross noted, "I don't think it says anything about people's general level of information."

Then there's the quality issue. A person could read nine romance novels in a year and qualify as Aristotelian by Schroeder's logic....

While she berated conservatives for buying into slogans, she flaunted her prejudices. Her idea of thinking in paragraphs: Not letting facts get in the way.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center