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The Myth of Unbiased Journalism


From The National Review, There Is No Such Thing as Unbiased Journalism, So Let’s Stop Pretending by David Harsanyi


If Stephanopoulos had disclosed his charitable giving beforehand, rather than press Schweizer on his past partisanship, he could have asked him: “Listen, I gave money to this foundation, too. I’m a huge fan of the work it does on AIDS and deforestation and working with corrupt Middle Eastern regimes, and I think the entire mission is simply fantastic. What proof do you have that there was a quid pro quo by me or anyone else?”

That would be far more compelling and informative television. Questions are questions, after all. And your outlook doesn’t change their legitimacy.

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Is Stephanopoulis a Hypocrite?

from The National Review VIctor Davis Hanson writes George Stephanopoulos’s Clinton Foundation Hypocrisy Is Staggering


When he attacked Schweizer for a supposed conflict of interest in having been a Bush speechwriter for four months, he assumed that his own much longer tenure as a war-room political flak for Bill Clinton could never impinge on his own objectivity — much less provide the context for his recent donations to the Clinton family foundation.

RELATED: Clinton Campaign Relied on Stephanopoulos for Its Clinton Cash Fact Check

After all, there are plenty of other charities concerned with AIDS and deforestation to help out. (At least Stephanopoulos did not suggest that he was interested in Haitian relief or Kazakhstani internal development.) And the vast majority of charities surely do not skim 90 percent off the top for travel and overhead expenses, as the Foundation does according to news reports. Routing $75,000 to these worthy causes via the Clintons might have meant that the charities ended up with ten cents on the dollar, or about $7,500 of Stephanopoulos’s money to divide up among them. Had he consulted various adjudicators of charity performance, he could have easily learned that giving to something run by Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton was not a very efficient way of saving trees and helping those infected with HIV.

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Why Are Polls So Wrong?


From Bloomberg Megan McArdle writes Pollsters Are Worse Than Ever


I won’t opine on What It All Means. But let’s talk about the surprise factor: The polls were wrong. And as Nate Silver points out, this seems to be a troubling trend, not just in Britain, but around the world. The polls on the Scottish independence referendum were way off. So were the ones that missed the Republican sweep in the 2014 midterms. Israel’s pre-election and exit polls both missed Likud’s solid victory.

We’ve always known that polls had problems. You can get very different answers depending on how you ask the question, as “Yes, Prime Minister” effectively dramatized. Sampling problems arise when people who don’t get chosen for the poll, or refuse to respond, are systematically different from the rest of the population. (This is how the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline happened.) Even with problems, however, polls remain useful — as long as you keep those problems in mind.

I’ve seen a lot written today about how this shows the need to fix polling. I’ve seen few people asking what seems like the more pertinent question: What if polls can’t be fixed?

Glenn Reynolds comments on the article at Instapundit that demonization of the right by the dominance of media and polling organizations may solicit false polling data.  This would lead to distorted feedback loop that makes news media even less accurate: creating polls that are distorted by an atmosphere created by the media that conducts and reports the poll.

I would contend that polls too often direct questions to a short term outcome dismissing reasons underlying the response.  Racial and gender stereotypes weigh too heavy in analysis when income and other profiles tell a better and more accurate story.

more on this line of thought from National Review’s John Fund, Conservative Voters Give Pollsters Politically Correct Answers . . . and Then They Vote

Silver came up with various explanations for the errors, noting first of all that voters are becoming harder to contact, so pollsters rely less on direct contact and more on online questionnaires. Some of those online polls abandon probability sampling, the bedrock of polling methodology. In addition, he also observed that “some pollsters have been caught withholding results when they differ from other surveys, ‘herding’ toward a false consensus about a race instead of behaving independently.”

I’m not sure that’s the case, but even if it is, the problem of people giving politically correct responses to pollsters isn’t confined to Britain. As Nate Silver concluded, “Polls, in the U.K. and in other places around the world, appear to be getting worse as it becomes more challenging to contact a representative sample of voters.”

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Media Malpractice.


It is not news that big media is politically biased.  The recent Netanyahu election was predicted to be close if not actually a defeat for the leader. He won by a substantial margin.

That they were so wrong in their prediction by a wide margin, should call into question whether the media in their predictions are incompetent or willfully trying to influence the outcome.  Their errors like this are becoming numerous and their calls seem to be in error always in one direction; that the conservative candidate will perform worse than they do.

In the recent 2014 races big media predicted Georgia Senator David Perdue’s race with Michelle Nunn was too close to call.  Perdue won by a handy margin. The same prediction and result occurred with their prediction of Jason Carter and Governor Nathan Deal.

Clearly just predicting the outcome desired did not achieve the results they may have wanted, but to do so from the pulpit of the national media under the guise of objective news and reporting is more than a common or careless error.  Ironically,  to make such unprofessional and biased predictions and be so wrong so often will reduce any likelihood they have to influence either the public, the voters, or the outcome. They would likely contend that was not their objective anyway.  It also reduces any respect the public has for these media outlets.

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The Dynamic Household

modern gopthic

Economist Mark Perry writes in his blog, Carpe Diem, US middle class has disappeared into higher-income groups; recent stagnation explained by changing household demographics?


 Here’s another way to understand the dynamic income shift over the last half century that elevated millions of American households into a higher income category. Whereas “middle class” US households were so numerous in 1967 that they outnumbered “upper class” US households by a ratio of almost 7-to-1, so many American “middle class” households had moved to the “upper class” by 2013 that the ratio of middle-income to upper-income households had fallen to less than 2-to-1. Stated differently, in 1969 there were almost 700 “middle class” US households to every 100 “upper-income” household; but by 2013 there were fewer than 200 “middle class” households per 100 “upper-income” households reflecting the movement of millions of US households who had climbed up the economic ladder to a higher income group. It was an amazing period of increased prosperity, upward mobility and an unprecedented increase in the number and share of American households going from “middle class” to “upper class.” The NY Times does acknowledge that many Americans were rising into higher income brackets through the last part of the last century, but focuses mostly on the recent stall in that rise since the turn of the century.

In other words, important demographic changes that have taken place over the last decade or longer might account for stagnating household income because the average US household today, compared to a household even a decade ago, is: a) smaller, b) has fewer earners on average and is more likely to have no earners, c) is more likely to be a retiree household on a fixed income, d) contributes fewer average weekly work hours, and e) receives a greater share of their compensation in the form of non-taxable fringe benefits.

Therefore, isn’t is possible that the “social upheaval” that has taken place over the last decade is really an “upheaval” in the size, composition and characteristics of a typical US “household” and not necessarily an era of reduced economic opportunities and less upward mobility for the middle class? At the very least, in any discussion about the “middle class” and “household income” we have to recognize that an “American household” is a dynamic concept that is constantly evolving and changing over time, and therefore distorts any comparisons between household incomes today to those of a decade or a generation ago.