Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More on Media and the Election

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy
The video below...

shows a number of Obama-voter interviewees responding to simple questions about the recent campaign, such as "Who said he would bankrupt the coal industry?" and "Whose party spent $150,000 on clothing?" The interviewees invariably either don't know or give Obama/Biden a pass while condemning McCain/Palin.

Of course, it's possible — even likely — that the documentarian is exhibiting selective bias. He may have selected, or at least chosen to show only those people who are bona fide idiots. Such people are easy to find and they make for entertaining viewing. Allegedly they were picked for their intelligence and ability to articulate, but we have only his word for that.

But an accompanying Zogby poll of 512 Obama voters, 97.1% High School Graduate or higher, 55% College Graduates, suggests they may be somewhat representative. It states:
    57.4% could NOT correctly say which party controls congress

    81.8% could NOT correctly say Joe Biden quit a previous campaign because of plagiarism (25% chance by guessing)

    82.6% could NOT correctly say that Barack Obama won his first election by getting opponents kicked off the ballot (25% chance by guessing)

    88.4% could NOT correctly say that Obama said his policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and make energy rates skyrocket (25% chance by guessing)

    56.1% could NOT correctly say Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground (25% chance by guessing).

    13.7% failed to identify Sarah Palin as the person on which their party spent $150,000 in clothes

    6.2% failed to identify Palin as the one with a pregnant teenage daughter

    86.9 % thought that Palin said that she could see Russia from her "house," even though that was Tina Fey who said that!!

    2.4% got at least 11 correct.

    0.5% got all of them correct.
From their answers, the only rational conclusion is that the breadth of their ignorance is appalling. Still, I have to hope this survey is deeply flawed. I have to, because otherwise I'll feel compelled to move to a country not on the map and devoid of human life.

But before we conclude that media bias won Obama the election, think again. The real answer may be worse. The media almost certainly helped, but even in those instances (such as the question on "who advocated redistribution") where the interviewee didn't know the correct answer, most thought it a good idea. That suggests that, to the extent they knew Obama's views, they favored them.

Granted, the interview (and the poll) are of Obama voters and the results are about what you would expect in terms of approval. Yet, in the end, isn't that the scariest fact of all?

Ignorance can be cured in short order. Media bias can be quickly cured if a more genuinely diverse set of views — and above all a dedication to objectivity — enters the information marketplace on a larger scale. But how long does it take to cure the type of philosophical corruption evidenced by a person who thinks government redistribution of wealth is a good idea, and do we have that much time left?

That is the once metaphorical, soon-to-be literal $64 trillion question.

[Hat tip: HotAir]

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