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We have a serious media problem

This past Sunday (Nov. 5, 2023) the New York Times started hyping an utterly screwball poll saying that Trump was leading Biden by an average of four points in six swing states. Right-wing subscribers to the Times swooped into the comments section to gloat. Times pundits doubled down on their usual snide and superior lecturing of Democrats while repeating and amplifying the usual Republican fictions.

Three days later, reality struck in the form of an actual real-world election. In the real world of elections, as opposed to the imaginary world that the media herd have bought into, Democrats won, bigtime, in multiple states, while MAGA Republicans got their you-know-whats handed to them.

I have no idea why political polling has gone haywire. Is it the “weighting” that pollsters apply? I have a hunch, though it’s untestable. When a pollster calls, more than 85 percent of the people who get the calls refuse to answer because of what they see on caller ID. My guess is that while most people roll their eyes and ignore the call, MAGA types are much more motivated to answer, because a poll gives them a way to register their rage and demoralization as their world falls apart. The hope of revenge is pretty much all they have left.

What’s frustrating is that there is no way for rational people to discipline the media for their malpractice. The New York Times thinks it knows better than everyone else, and nothing short of a major scandal (such as a reporter nailed for making stuff up) penetrates the Times’ unlimited faith in its own infallibility.

What we can do as rational people is to always keep in mind how Republican propagandists, starting in 1996 with the birth of Fox News, figured out how to use the principles of journalism to destroy journalism. For years, newspapers as a matter of principle refused to print the word “lie,” because that word wasn’t “objective,” even when reporting on Republican lies that journalists knew perfectly well were lies. That coincided with the rise of the internet and the ability to count clicks. Lies are designed to be provocative and thus get lots of clicks. Good government is boring to most people, which is why the media mostly ignore President Biden’s accomplishments. Whereas lies about Biden are never boring and thus get repeated and amplified by the mainstream media.

The New York Times poll that they hyped on Nov. 5 got lots of clicks. But the poll got the current political mindset of American voters exactly backwards, as the election on Nov. 7 showed. What’s worse is that the New York Times will learn nothing from this very public display of their own ongoing pattern not only of being wrong, but also of the now blind and baked-in pattern of being manipulated by right-wing propagandists. And worse still is that the mainstream media will never admit to having been a megaphone and amplifier to all the lies that led, starting in 1996 with the rise of Fox News, to an attempted right-wing coup against the government of the United States.

And they’re still not telling us that Trump is doomed, becaused they need the clicks.


The Biden campaign has sent letters to major media outlets scolding them for their distorted coverage of polls:

Biden campaign sends memo to media outlets asserting disparity in polling coverage

One Comment

  1. Dan wrote:

    Great points, David.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2023 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

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