By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Writing before Obama won the election, Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel of the Daily Caller contended that bias, dishonesty, and corruption were helping to undermine and destroy the liberal media. “The broadcast networks, the big daily newspapers, the newsweeklies—they’re done,” they said. “It’s only a matter of time, and everyone who works there knows it.”
Unfortunately, there is no evidence this is the case. Although liberal news outlets are losing viewers and readers, Obama’s victory has invigorated these news organizations and given them a new lease on life. They are more powerful than ever because they correctly predicted the race. They understood the nature of the electorate and how it had shifted in Obama’s favor. What they have achieved is something that the conservative media were striving for—a measure of credibility. It came not through their reporting, of course, but through their emphasis on polls and an understanding of how a progressive infrastructure, financed largely by George Soros, has assumed great importance for the Democratic Party machine.
Many in the liberal media are gloating that so many Fox News commentators were proven wrong in their predictions of a Romney victory. Not surprisingly, the conservative predictions of a Romney victory were mocked on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.
By contrast, Nate Silver of The New York Times, one of the nation’s most prominent liberal outlets, has achieved enormous credibility, having correctly predicted Obama’s victory and the outcome in 50 out of 50 states. USA Today noted, “Silver had been under fire from Republicans for consistently putting Obama’s chance of winning in a range of 60-90 percent.” The FiveThirtyEight blogger turned out to be correct.
Bret Baier used his “Winners & Losers” segment on the Fox News Channel Special Report program to acknowledge that liberal or Democratic-leaning surveys and polls came out on top in predicting this year’s presidential election. He noted that a Fordham University study “credits the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) as the most accurate of the survey companies this year.” PPP also does a poll in partnership with the Daily Kos and the Services Employees International Union (SEIU), and it was second.
Rasmussen, one of the favorite polls of conservatives, was near the bottom of the list of the 28 polling organizations. Rasmussen had Romney leading Obama 49-48 percent on Election Day.
University of Colorado political science professors Kenneth Bickers and Michael Berry, who appeared on Fox News and talk radio, had projected an Electoral College landslide for Mitt Romney based on a model using economic factors such as unemployment data and changes in personal income. On the Fox Business website, Gerri Willis cited the prediction, noting that “Obama faces the headwinds of history. No President since FDR has been re-elected when unemployment is above 8 percent.” How many times did we hear that statistic mentioned in the context of the belief that Romney was destined to win?
“The model was wrong,” Bickers is now quoted as saying. Eric Gorski of the Denver Post reported, “Bickers said the Obama campaign managed to neutralize Romney’s ‘strengths on economic stewardship’—exit polls showed voters held similar views on each candidate’s ability to steer the economy—in part by shifting attention to issues such as immigration and women’s reproductive rights that play to Obama’s strengths.”
None of this negates the fact that Carlson and Patel were correct in their analysis of liberal media bias. They wrote, “Not in our lifetimes have so many in the press dropped the pretense of objectivity in order to help a political candidate. The media are rooting for Barack Obama. They’re not hiding it.” They went on to say that “many in the press are every bit as corrupt as conservatives have accused them of being,” but added, “The good news is, it’s almost over.”
It’s not over. Conservative use of flawed polling data has played into the hands of the liberal media. In order to recapture credibility in covering politics, the conservative media will have to acknowledge not only the bias on the other side, but the bias on their own.
A good start was made by Breitbart’s John Nolte, who wrote: “Mea culpa. We were dead wrong about the polls. Not only did the Real Clear Politics poll of polls end up being almost perfectly precise, but the most accurate pollster of the 2012 election cycle ended up being the Daily Kos’ Public Policy Polling (PPP). My guys, Gallup and Rasmussen, didn’t even make the top twenty.”
Real Clear Politics, an aggregator of polls, had Obama winning by 2.5 percent. The actual results were Obama 50.8 and Romney 48.3.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.