Friday, November 20, 2009

For the MSM, AEI is the New FiveThirtyEight

At Swampland, Jay Newton-Small posts "Landrieu for $100 million", in which she references this Bloomberg piece calmly reporting another huge take-home win for one of the centrists who call the shots in the Democratic Party, this time Mary Landrieu (DLC, Louisiana). Apart from the odd, blasé nature of a piece describing dollars for votes --something most Americans have a problem with, at least conceptually-- there was the equally blasé passing on of poor reporting.

Hard as it might be for readers to believe this, I feel that a response is necessary.

Jay Newton-Small:

Perhaps the most egregious problem in the Bloomberg piece is this example of He Said/She Said:
Landrieu, Lincoln and Nelson have all criticized a central element of the legislation, a new government-run insurance program to compete with private insurers like Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna Inc.

The three lawmakers “all represent states where Obama is pretty unpopular, and they will at least need to split their votes on health care, casting some key skeptical votes,” said John Fortier, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

First of all, everybody knows what the American Enterprise Institute is, right? We're all aware that it's not a political analysis house, but a conservative agenda policy factory?
The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is a conservative think tank founded in 1943.

AEI scholars are considered to be some of the leading architects of the second Bush administration's public policy.[2] More than twenty AEI scholars and fellows served either in a Bush administration policy post or on one of the government's many panels and commissions.[3]

Among the prominent former government officials now affiliated with AEI are former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, now an AEI senior fellow; former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities Lynne Cheney, a longtime AEI senior fellow; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, now an AEI senior fellow; former Dutch member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an AEI visiting fellow, and former deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz, now an AEI visiting scholar.

Other prominent individuals affiliated with AEI include David Frum, Kevin Hassett, Frederick W. Kagan, Leon Kass, Irving Kristol, Charles Murray, Michael Novak, Norman J. Ornstein, Richard Perle, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Peter J. Wallison.[4]

Does anybody who works in journalism understand the professional need to fact-check claims?

Let's see, how about Nebraska, where "Obama is pretty unpopular", according to the rightist think-tank guy (Link to Lincoln Journal Star):
Obama gets 57 percent approval in Nebraska

By DON WALTON / Lincoln Journal Star | Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 4:20 pm

President Barack Obama enjoyed 57 percent job approval in Nebraska in a Gallup Poll released Tuesday.

The daily tracking results were compiled from January through June and were billed by Gallup as the president's "half-year approval rating."

Obama's disapproval score in Nebraska was 32 percent.

OK, but I can hear you saying "Well, the rightist propagandist goofed on NE, but what about Arkansas, Lincoln's state, or Louisiana, Landrieu's?"

So what does Gallup say about those states (Link to Gallup state breakdown)?
Arkansas: Approve 56, Disapprove, 31

Louisiana: Approve 55, Disapprove, 34

Oh horrors! A mid-fifties approval rating!

Only in the minds of people who would bestow the laughable title of "visiting scholar" upon the fool ideologue Wolfowitz do these numbers signify that "Obama is pretty unpopular" in these states.

I know that you don't work there anymore, Jay Newton-Small, but is it possible for you to mention something to James Rowley and Kristin Jensen, the authors of that eye-rollingly bad piece, if you were to still be in contact?

Could you maybe point out that when journalists turn to the AEI for political analysis on politicians' votes on a "government-run" anything, they should probably expect something along the lines of "that would be bad politically" --even if the Senator were, say, Dick Durbin of Illinois?

Thanks so much in advance for letting your former colleagues know that many of their readers aren't idiots, Jay Newton-Small!

1 comment:

stuart_zechman said...

Regarding the Bloomberg piece, I should probably clarify that the He Said was:

Landrieu remains skeptical about the so-called public option yet “she is open to a principled compromise,” Sawicki said.

, with the opposing She Said being:

The three lawmakers “all represent states where Obama is pretty unpopular, and they will at least need to split their votes on health care, casting some key skeptical votes.”

That's "Principled" vs "Pragmatic" stenography, with nothing in the way of backup for these claims, and Landrieu's flack on one side vs the think-tank rightist on the other.


That sounds just like Meet The Press on any given Sunday, doesn't it?