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What Exactly Are We Going to Do With Neil DeGrasse Tyson? | Main | Good News: Huckabee Seems to be Running for President; Top Wall Street Backer Predicts Romney Will Run, Too
September 16, 2014

Science: Networks Covered Bush's Crumbling Poll Numbers 124 Times in an Eight Month Period; In the Corresponding Eight Month Period, the Networks Covered Obama's Likewise-Crumbling Poll Numbers... Nine Times

The dates under consideration are thus:

Jan 1, 2006 to August 31, 2006 for Bush; and
Jan 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014 for Obama.

Both eight-month periods are located in the respective president's sixth year, in the first half of the year before the midterms.

In both cases, the President's job approval rating hit lows in the low 40s.

You Had One Job, Media

So why did the networks cover Bush's falling approval rating so extensively and barely mentioned Obama's?

The answer is obvious and so simple that it's hardly worth the bother to write out but I don't have anywhere else to be so here goes:

The media is made up of biased, interested partisans (by interested I mean they have an interest in the outcome of their reportage) but they wish to pretend not to be.

If they openly campaign for their political favorites and against their political opponents (something, incidentally, they do more and more of), they are perceived as biased, and furthermore can be demonstrated as biased, by simple quotation of their own words.

So instead of doing that, most of the time they choose to run stories which, while not obviously partisan on their faces, are nevertheless chosen according to partisan motivations.

For example: Bush's falling polls. On its face, not partisan. Facts, after all, have no political leaning. No one can say that a fact is partisan -- without sounding like a dickish partisan himself.

However, the choice to hammer Bush's poll ratings again and again is itself a partisan choice. The choice of whether to report a specific fact, or conceal it, or whether to give it Big Play, or a minor mention on page A24, is frequently a partisan decision.

But the decision-making is hidden from the audience, so accusations about it are by nature speculative and cannot be proven.

The media did not like Bush. They were annoyed that the public liked him. He was a Cowboy, you know.

They were heartened when the public turned against him, and furthermore wished to communicate to fence-sitters that it's okay to turn on Bush, because look at how many other Americans are doing it!

Thus, Bush's fall from the 50s to the 40s gets mentioned 124 times in a six month period. You can't say that the polls themselves are partisan; but you do suspect there is a motive behind the nonstop coverage of Bush's long fall.

Compare to Obama's similar fall. Nine times the networks mention it. One cannot help but suspect the media does not report these polls for the same reason that I, an acknowledged partisan, don't mention polls that I don't like: because they sting me on an emotional level. I want to be an optimist, and how can I be that with Bummer Polls?

In addition, of course, the same logic that leads to reporting Bush's falling polls 124 times leads to all but concealing Obama's bad polls: The media suspects that fence-sitters are amenable to the bandwagon effect, and may begin to get off the fence in the direction of the popular majority just because people do not, generally, like standing out from the crowd. (Humans are pack animals and you're safer from predators in the midst of the pack, rather than being out On Point or outriding on the flanks.)

Thus, if the media reports that the American public has soured on Obama, fence-sitters may decide that they too have soured on him, and reporting Obama's bad polls may cause them to become even worse.

The media greeted that possibility in the case of Bush; they dread it the case of Obama.

You know, the media was very fond of reporting on Bush's Annus Horribilus (a Latin phrase meaning "swamp-ass") and its effect on his popularity. War weariness, the much-promoted civil war in Iraq, Grim Milestones, middle class wage stagnation, Katrina.

You know the litany-- the press sure repeated it often enough.

Obama has now had two terrible, terrible years in a row. All signs point to a third.

Why no interest in that? No... journalistic interest in the interesting, important story of How Someone Who Started So High Fell Down So Very Low?

And so we see the exact same story, more or less, being treated in precisely contradictory ways by a press which is an all-but-acknowledged arm of the Democrat National Committee but wishes to maintain its nominal independence for tax purposes.

These things aren't complicated. Lies and corruption and hypocrisy and tribal cheerleading are pretty simple things, really. Simple and crude, and very easy to explain.

Update: A love of science compels me to correct this and note that January through August is eight months, rather than "six" as I wrote, at least according the traditional, orthodox manner of counting typically favored by The Establishment.

By the non-traditional, freethinking Eastern-inflected folkways I prefer, it could be any range of numbers from three to seventeen. I chose "six" as both a poetical, numinous number filled with mythic resonances and whispered truths, as well as being a good compromise figure between 3 and 17 calculated to not upset the more hidebound, numerically-orthodox minds out there in my readership.

But I see now that even this minor gesture in the direction of open-mindedness and aesthetic daring is now being challenged and mocked.

So, thus harassed by vicious critics, I have changed the number to the Establishment-preferred "eight."

So The Establishment wins again. Quel surprise.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:30 PM

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