November 17, 2009

SOBer, Stimulating Thoughts About What I’ll Call StimuGate

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:56 pm

I noted this briefly this morning at Lickety-Split Links (“Recovery.gov lists hundreds of millions spent and hundreds of jobs created in Congressional districts that don’t exist“), and it has caught the attention of several SOBers:

  • Maggie Thurber — “Bogus jobs numbers in the stimulus & Ohio phantom congressional districts”
  • Normal at Collecting My Thoughts — “Bogus jobs numbers in the stimulus & Ohio phantom congressional districts.”
  • Alo at Brain Shavings — “Ohio Porkulus Data.”
  • Freedom’s Right — “It turns out that Obama’s incredible mathematical formula was tough for most of us to figure out for a good reason. The numbers were made up. They were lies.”

Leftist Blood-Curdling Scream Alert: CMPA Reports That Fox Is Fair and Balanced

fox-news-logoLeftists including those in the White House who presumptively and obsessively attack Fox News will not be pleased with this.

At Forbes (HT Hot Air Headlines), S. Robert Lichter of George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs, asks the question, “Fox News: Fair And Balanced?” — and answers in the affirmative. In the process, the GMU Professor of Communications also makes a number of interesting points about Fox’s competitors, discusses the convergence of news and analysis, and provides useful historical context.

Using a methodology that would be difficult to refute, Lichter’s work relating to campaign 2008 is in sync with what CMPA found in late 2007 (noted at the time at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) during the opening stages of the presidential campaign.

Here are key paragraphs from Lichter’s commentary (bolds are mine):

Fox News has become embroiled in a nasty controversy over its ill treatment of President Obama. But are the charges true?

What if I told you that Fox gave Obama his worst press and John McCain his best press of any network during last year’s presidential election? If you work for the White House, you’d probably take this as proof that Fox is just a mouthpiece for the opposition. Now what if I told you that Fox had the most balanced coverage of any network during the same campaign? If you work for Fox, you’d probably say we told you so.

But what if I told you that both scenarios are true?

While it seems unlikely, that conclusion is precisely the case, based on an ongoing study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA). That both these seemingly contradictory scenarios are true tells us something important not only about the war between Fox and the White House, but about the changing nature of television news in America.

…. The CMPA study compares ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows and the first half hour of Fox News Channel’s Special Report, which most closely resembles its broadcast news counterparts.

…. So how could Fox have both the most balanced and the most anti-Obama coverage? Simple. It’s because the other networks were all so pro-Obama. CMPA analyzed every soundbite by reporters and nonpartisan sources (excluding representative of the political parties) that evaluated the candidates and their policies. On the three broadcast networks combined, evaluations of Obama were 68% positive and 32% negative, compared to the only 36% positive and 64% negative evaluations of his GOP opponent John McCain.

In fact, Obama received the most favorable coverage CMPA has ever recorded for any presidential candidate since we began tracking election news coverage in 1988. The totals were very similar–within a few percentage points–at all three networks. (These figures exclude comments on the candidates’ prospects in the campaign horse race, which obviously favored Obama.)

Meanwhile, Fox’s Special Report was dramatically tougher on Obama, with only 36% favorable vs. 64% unfavorable evaluations during the same time period. But McCain didn’t fare much better, garnering only 40% favorable comments vs. 60% negative ones. So the broadcast networks gave good marks to one candidate and bad marks to another, while Fox was tough on both–and most balanced overall.

Other points Lichter makes:

  • The historical pattern during a president’s first year in office is that the establishment press tends to go negative. Lichter interestingly asserts that all networks have done so this year, with the Big 3 nets tallying 35% favorables for Obama vs. 27% for Fox on Special Report. Lichter’s take is that “Fox’s coverage has gone from being the worst of all to merely the worst among equals.”
  • The White House claim that Fox “really isn’t a news organization” is risible, given that in Special Report the channel at least runs “nightly news modeled on the broadcast networks.” MSNBC and CNN don’t even try.
  • Longtime NewsBusters and BizzyBlog readers will probably have a hard time with the final sentence of this assertion — “Obama differs from his predecessors mainly in the false hopes generated by sometimes fawning campaign coverage from jaded journalists who temporarily let themselves get carried away by his eloquence and the historic nature of his candidacy. When politics returned to normal, their coverage returned to form.” I definitely disagree, especially if you include the Big 3′s morning shows, which attempt to position themselves as every bit as objective as their evening news counterparts. But if anything, they’re worse. Perhaps a gravitation back to the norm has begun more recently, as the continued decay in the economy as people are experiencing it and the awful results of the administration’s attempts to do something about it become ever more obvious.

Leftists who will predictably howl that CMPA is conservatively biased (because SourceWatch says so, as if that proves anything beyond paranoia) are going to have to explain what is wrong with CMPA’s scorekeeping methodology, which appears to be relatively immune from partisan slant, even if one had that as an objective. In any event, the footage is out there, and they are free to try to replicate and poke holes in what CMPA did any time. I bet they won’t; whining is so much easier.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Health Care Poll-Cooking: AP Headlines ‘Tax the Rich’ Finding, Ignores Opposition to ObamaCare, Other Key Items

CookingWithAP1109That Associated Press’s basement-level poll-cooking and poll-reporting standards are quite low, and quite agenda-driven, might as well be an article of faith by this time.

But the wire service-commissioned poll on health care, and Erica Warner’s report on it (saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes; HT JammieWearingFool via Instapundit; the full poll report in PDF format is here) plumbs new depths of partisanship while making errors of both omission and commission.

Warner and AP want the big takeaway to be that taxing “the rich” is the idea the public overwhelmingly favors to pay for ObamaCare — never mind that the same public also opposes the plan itself.

What follows is a graphic containing selected paragraphs from Werner’s report:

APexcerptOnHealthPoll111709

Werner’s excerpted text compared to the actual poll betrays a fundamental misunderstanding that sadly permeates most discussions of income taxation:

  • Werner and AP turned the actual poll question about income taxes, which involved “increasing income taxes paid by people who earn more than $250,000 a year,” into “Tax the Rich.” It’s really “Tax the Incomes of Anyone Who Happens to Have a Very High-Earning Year.” It only coincidentally has something to do with going after those who are actually wealthy, i.e., “the rich.” It’s not exactly a secret that quite a few high-earners are anything but rich, for a variety of reasons.
  • Of course, the “objective” Warner somehow couldn’t restrain her enthusiasm in how her misstated finding “will be welcome news for House Democrats.” This Erica gal is really talented; her ability to wave pompoms and type at the same time is a sight to behold.
  • Werner compounded her obvious conceptual misunderstanding of the difference between income and net worth by highlighting the quote from Ms. Rondthaler, who seems to believe that anyone with very high earnings has a whole bunch of cash just lying around doing nothing that could be sent to Uncle Sam with no personal consequences, and no effect on the overall economy.

As to more important findings in the poll — all totally ignored by Werner — here is some of what JammieWearingFool noted:

Of course what the Associated Press does not even mention in their story is probably the most relevant part: “In general, do you support, oppose or neither support nor oppose the health care reform plans being discussed in Congress? (IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE Is that strongly support/oppose or somewhat support/oppose?” To no surprise that’s opposed by 43-41%. Eleven percent neither support or oppose and 4% “don’t know.”

Also conveniently left out of their story is the response to whether people should be penalized if they do not buy the government-run health care: Sixty-four percent oppose. Why do you suppose that was left out?

Also left out was of the respondents, 37% are unemployed or retired. No wonder they want someone to pick up the tab.

Forty-two percent think the economy will get worse if this scam is shoved down our throats, while 28% think it will improve. Again, this is left out of the story.

….. Another question left out: “How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right – just about always, most of the time, or only some of the time?” A total of 24% said all or most of the time. And we’re going to trust them?

Fans often complain about “home cooking,” where the referees’ calls seemingly tend to favor the home team over its opponents. In this case, Werner’s and AP’s home-cooking nullified the effect of every play it didn’t like.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Lickety-Split Links (111709, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:54 am

Good thing they spent $18 million on the web site revamp — “Recovery.gov lists hundreds of millions spent and hundreds of jobs created in Congressional districts that don’t exist.”

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Maybe we should hold the congressional elections on April 16, 2010TaxProf Blog has a roundup of establishment press items reporting that 15 million taxpayers “could unexpectedly owe taxes” on April 15, 2010 when they file their 2009 returns because of the stimulus plan’s “Making Work Pay Credit.”

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“N.A.A.C.P. Prods Obama on Job Losses”and proposes doing more of the things that have accomplished the opposite.

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From the “We apologize, until the next time we’re caught” Dept. — “MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan apologized on Monday for using photoshopped images of Sarah Palin firing a gun while wearing a bikini.” Separately, but not really, it’s clear that the establishment media believes that opportunistic sexism is okay any time it involves Palin, but heaven forbid you pull similar stunts on anyone else.. Good on Sarahcuda for calling it out (HT Hot Air Headlines).

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Speaking of Palin, as Mark Steyn noted at the Corner on Saturday, the Associated Press had 11 reporters assigned to fact-check her new book. To call their objections specious is to give them too much credit. “Lame,” the adjective John at Powerline uses, is better.

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Ted Kennedy wasa man of his Church“? If the “church” Nancy Snyderman was referring to was one other than the Catholic Church, and that “church” is okey-dokey with feticide, and a member whose reaction to a companion of his drowning in a car he was driving is, “What am I going to do, what can I do?”

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“Instapundit Channels BizzyBlog” Quote of the Day, in response to news that Congressman Jim “Earmark the Sh*t Out of It” Moran will have a challenger — “No incumbent should go unchallenged, in primary or general.”