What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 23, 2008

Jack Kelly Sunday

Jack Kelly should really vet his ideas more carefully.

Why? The topic of this week's column was already discussed ad nauseum by none other than our favorite example of wingnut reality-based clear thinking, Jim Quinn.

Jack has to do better than this. I mean, any time he spends parroting the irrational rants of Quinn and Rose, is time not only squandered but demolished outright.

Let's get to Jack's column. He's looking to do two things with it; he's looking to show that liberals are stupid and that the media is to blame for Senator McCain's embarrassing "electoral college landslide" (Jack's phrase, by the way). Jack gets to the heart of the matter with this:
A Zogby poll released last week casts doubt on the notion it's conservatives who reflect stupidity and ignorance. Mr. Zogby asked a dozen questions of 512 Obama supporters, 55 percent of whom have college degrees.
And it found that while "94 percent correctly identified Sarah Palin as the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter" and "87 percent identified Ms. Palin as the candidate who said she "could see Russia from her house" only "17 percent knew that it was Mr. Obama who won his first election by getting all of his opponents removed from the ballot" and "12 percent knew it was Mr. Obama who said his energy policies likely would bankrupt the coal industry."

Well that LOOKS damaging, doesn't it? It certainly LOOKS like the liberals are stupid and the media overfed us the McCain/Palin bad and while underfeeding us the Obama/Biden bad.

And yet...

The Zogby poll Jack so readily quotes is not all that it appears to be. From Jack:
The poll was commissioned by conservative documentary filmmaker John Ziegler ("The Path to 9/11"). Random post-election interviews he'd done with a dozen Obama supporters indicated a deplorable lack of knowledge, and he wanted to see how widespread it was.
Actually John Ziegler (as far as I can tell) had NOTHING to do with "The Path to 9/11" (he's not listed in the credits at the IMDB.com, for instance). He WAS involved with a documentary called "Blocking The Path to 9/11". By the way, if Jack can't get such a simple fact right, how can we trust anything else he has to write?


Anyway, Ziegler produced "Blocking The Path to 9/11" along with conservative smear merchant David Bossie. Who's David Bossie?

David Bossie is the president of Citizens United (the folks who brought us the infamous "Willie Horton" ad). Bossie was also the guy Representative Dan Burton fired from his job as Chief Investigator on Burton's House Committee investigating Whitewater. Bossie's error? He edited tapes and transcripts of phone conversations between then-First Lady Hillary Clinton and Webster Hubbell. As David Corn wrote in 1998:
Just when Newt Gingrich was trying to increase the scandal pressure on Clinton, Burton and Bossie embarrassed themselves and the GOP by making public selective portions of the Hubbell tapes. Remarks that indicated Hillary Clinton did no wrong were left out of the initial release. In several instances the transcripts did not match the actual recordings, and these errors seemed almost willful, as if they were intended to unfairly implicate Hubbell and the Clintons.
Imagine that. At least we know anything off of Bossie's desk is completely trustworthy, right?

Back to the poll. Here's Zogby's initial press statement about it. Did you know that there's a bit of a controversy surrounding the poll? Not if you read Jack - who's whole column depends on it.

Let's check out some criticism of the poll. First from Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com:
To my mind, this survey meets the definition of a "push poll", which the Random House Dictionary defines as "a seemingly unbiased telephone survey that is actually conducted by supporters of a particular candidate and disseminates negative information about an opponent." That (i) several of the items on the survey contain information which, in addition to being negative, is arguably also untrue; (ii) Ziegler brags that the survey includes a trick question to which no correct answer can be provided, and that (iii) apparently only Obama voters were targeted by the survey (although this is not 100 percent clear), also inform my opinion that the survey can fairly be described as a "push poll".
Did you know that "several of the items on the survey contain information which, in addition to being negative, is arguably also untrue"? Not if you read Jack's column.

Here's some more criticism from pollster.com:

The survey was paid for by John Ziegler, a former talk radio host and publisher of a conservative web site. The Zogby summary quotes Ziegler claiming that "the poll really proves beyond any doubt the stunning level of malpractice on the part of the media in not educating the Obama portion of the voting populace."

The problem, as Silver points out, is that the survey does no such thing. It proves only that Obama voters surveyed were less likely to attribute to Obama or Biden a half dozen statements that were "at best debatable, yet apparently represented as factual to the respondent"...
And then:
Zogby's survey does not amount to a "push poll" in that sense, but using the term allows him to respond -- predictably -- with a denial that "this was not a push poll." It wasn't, but that's beside the point. Describing his biased, leading questions as a legitimate test of knowledge is hugely misleading, at best.
And now from the Wall Street Journal, turns out that Zogby's distancing itself from the Ziegler's survey:

John Zogby, the president and chief executive of Zogby International, released a statement on his Web site Tuesday that defended the poll in the face of heavy criticism from bloggers and some media organizations, saying, “We stand by the results [of] our survey work on behalf of [author and former talk show host] John Ziegler, as we stand by all of our work. … We were hired to test public opinion on a particular subject and with no ax to grind, that’s exactly what we did.”

But on Wednesday, Zogby told me he was on a book tour when the contract was reached and when the survey was conducted, and wouldn’t have approved the poll in the form it took, or a press release posted on his firm’s Web site. “This was not Zogby International’s finest hour,” he said. “Something, somehow, fell through the cracks.” He said he would review the incident with his staff on Friday to determine what went wrong. Nonetheless, Zogby stood by the results of the poll themselves. “There is valuable information in this poll,” he said.

Zogby wouldn't have approved the poll in the form it took - something else Jack didn't tell you.

Puss-pull or not, the poll was biased, contained leading questions and was "misleading at best."

At the very least, it doesn't show what Jack Kelly said it showed - and for that I'll use no less a conservative news source than the Washington Times:
Mr. Zeigler's basic premise is that the mainstream news media simply wanted Mr. Obama to win, and provided correspondingly positive coverage. The Zogby poll, meanwhile, essentially revealed that those voters remembered good stuff about the president-elect and bad stuff aboutSen. John McCain's campaign.
Something else Jack won't tell you.


Infinonymous said...

During the election, I liked (to some degree) Mr. Kelly's occupancy of the "conservative columnist" slot at the Post-Gazette because it eliminating the chance that an effective, smart, insightful conservative viewpoint would be expressed in that space.

Now that voters have discredited and discarded Republicans, however, I am rethinking this position. Our nation needs content rather than caricature from those who criticize our elected leaders, so I am open to the idea that Mr. Kelly should be replaced by a competent writer.

The P-G, of course, should have made the change long ago, but that would have required self-respect and sensible judgment.

Good point about the failures in fact-checking, which have become a P-G standard, at least with respect to Mr. Kelly's work.

John K. said...

John K: No, the main stream media was definitely pulling for Hussein Obama by a margin of 80 - 20. FOX news came out as the fairest in its coverage. Problem is that the main stream media now has no idea of who this guy is. Conservatives do, but not the media. I reference comments by Rose, Brokaw and Time and Newsweek magazine. (Get off your butt and look up the references yourself Heath) When Browkaw says we have no idea of who Obama is, there is a bias and a problem. This guy is going to take out the left also. Not a problem for me. By the way, he is already rescinding his tax the rich pledge and pull out of Iraq pledge. LMAO And Lieberman is the Man!

dayvoe said...

Uh, no John.

It's YOUR responsibility to furnish the links. Not Heath's.

Until then we all know you're just blowing smoke.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Infin says: "Our nation needs content rather than caricature from those who criticize our elected leaders, so I am open to the idea that Mr. Kelly should be replaced by a competent writer."

I wouldn't call His Jackness an "incompetent writer" by any stretch, but I can only conclude that the P-G doesn't want to do conservatism any favors, preferring instead to lend as much credence as possible to the Scientology wing of the Republican party.

I mean, come on -- devoting a whole column to "Obama voters are stupid". Even if the poll wasn't rigged for effect -- this moves the country forward how? May as well run an ad for ad space in the P-G. At least that helps keep the economy humming.

EdHeath said...

Was this what you were refering to, John K.? Taken straight from Limbaugh, which is why yuou have no idea where to find the quotes, eh, John K.? And by the way, in the previous post I asked what you whould do to improve the current economic climate. Would you care to answer?

jaywillie said...

John K. doesn't actually "have" opinions. He's told what opinions to have.

John K. said...

John K: Nope Dayvoe, the left wing loons in here post stuff all the time with no verification in fact. Till I counter it. In fact, it is the mantra of the left to yell fire and then as the stampede occurs require the other party to provide proof. Try again Homer.

John K. said...

John K: FOX news was the most fair in their treatment of all candidates. MSNBC was the worst. The rest leaned heavily left towards Hussein Obama. Trib has an excellent article on this. Problem is as Brokaw, one of the moderators of the debates said, he has no idea of who Hussein Obama is. Typical bunch of left wing loons.

EdHeath said...

This whole election cycle conservatives took the comments of liberals out of context, because they had nothing to say on their own. The Republicans claims to be the fiscally responsible party were belied by the four years when they had the White House and Congress, and spent (borrowed) money like there was no tomorrow. That's why Rush Limbaugh had to edit the audio of a Charlie Rose program, so it would appear Brokaw was saying he doesn't know who Obama is. By the way, in the same interview, Brokaw said the same thing about McCain.

John K.'s claim that 2PJ's doesn't link to sources is preposterous on it's face. In fact, it is John K. who routinely and repeatedly makes claims without sources, and then calls me lazy because I ask him for sources. Turns out if I just look at Limbaugh's transcripts, I will find the sources for John K.'s lies