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Mea Culpa (Part Deux) - or don't believe everything you read! - Rubin

About Mea Culpa (Part Deux) - or don't believe everything you read!

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I meant to post this sooner but...

I must apologize again.
I've pulled a fast one on you. I am encouraged that some people were at least skeptical of my previous post, but most probably didn't take the time to check it out the facts for themselves (as I am frequently guilty of as well).

So what did I do? Did I completely make up the Pew Media Study?

No... The study was real and the numbers I quoted are real.
I just switched some of the labels, and then photoshoped the original Chart to match the mixed up labels.

So here's the original, unaltered chart from the study:
real chart
Just so you know I'm not making it up this, you can find the original chart here on the pew research website and in context here .

In comparison, here's that fake chart I previously posted:

You can see that I switched the McCain and Obama labels (making it appear that Obama was the one that had the high amount of negative stories associated with him). Then I attributed the askewed coverage to FOX, rather than MSNBC. Finally, I attributed the actual FOX (apparent balanced coverage) numbers to the Media Overall.

Here are those raw numbers with the correct labels:



Media Overall






























Here's my own chart I created to help show those numbers in context:

So, in reality, it was FOX News that had the most balanced coverage. FOX was more negative than positive to both candidates, but I think that can be attributed to a healthy skepticism that media coverage should have. MSNBC was clearly biased, with a huge amount of negative McCain stories, and a larger amount of positive Obama stories than even the media overall. The Media Overall was still biased, just not nearly so as much as MSNBC.

What does this exercise of mine show?

1) You shouldn't trust what you read/hear on the web/news without trying to check the facts for yourself. Not only is it simple just to make things up, it's equally easy to misreport true stories (as my fake Chart shows - it took under 10 minutes to "adjust" the graphs in photoshop). Just because our own biases make us want to believe something, we should attempt to verify the veracity of a story before quoting as fact.

Some resent examples include:
Supposed Palin High School Grades - FALSE
Quotes from Governor Palin - FALSE
Palin mistakenly believed Africa was a country instead of a continent - FALSE VERACITY INDETERMINABLE
Obama claimed he visited/campaigned in 57 States - TRUE

2) Since FOX News provided the most balanced news coverage of the this heated election, is it that difficult to believe that FOX News provides overall balanced news coverage? In contrast, is it hard to believe the Media Overall is biased to the left overall, when their reporting on this election was?

And in the spirit of this post, I encourage you to check out the study and the numbers for yourself at http://journalism.org/node/13437

Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
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[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
I... I don't even know where to begin.

In hindsight it is pretty obvious. Your insistence that we'd admit we were wrong too, if our positions were reversed...

I mean, here you are trying to prove that Fox News is fair, by lying about the statistics? The irony fairy loves you.

Especially since your graph still means you're wrong. I have an idea I want to suggest here. An analogy.

Suppose that, I dunno, Apophis were running for president.

All the news outlets run mostly negative stories on him, because, well, he wants to enslave humanity. One news outlet ignores some of the negative stories and trumps up some positive ones, maybe because he promises to enslave them last, I dunno. Their ratio is more or less 1 to 1.

So the news outlet that has an even distribution of stories, are they the most fair? No, not at all. The most fair outlet is the one whose reports most accurately reflect reality. If you alter your ratio of pro- to anti-Apophis stories for any reason, then you're not being balanced, you are biasing your news coverage.

Not every argument has two valid sides, and not every viewpoint deserves equal air time. He should just fly Hataks over and take the planet by force anyway.

I think it's hilarious that you say this while being against the Equal Time Rule, also, since it's what you're advocating here.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 12:57 pm (UTC)
So, you were willing to accept last week that, due to these numbers, the media overall provided balance coverage, but give those same statistics to FOX proves that FOX is biased?

If I am correct, your argument is that McCain deserved negative coverage because he's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler, and Obama deserves positive coverage because he's the modern equivalent to Jesus.

I am not advocating any equal time rule... however if a news source claims to give balance coverage, it should. FOX claims it and the numbers show it. Other media outlets claim to be unbiased, but the numbers clearly show different.
If I am listening to most talk radio or reading Mother Jones, I know that source is biased. Those sources do not claim any differently, so I know that going in. If I am watching CNN, or reading Time, and they claim not to be bias, but they are, then I am upset.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Your Godwinization:

I didn't say McCain was the moral equivalent of Hitler, and I didn't mention Obama at all. You're off in your own little argument over there. If you can't distinguish the difference between "50% stories on both" and "accurately reporting the events", then I really have no interest in continuing this.

I've thought about this some, and read the other comments in this thread, and I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed.

You were very good to me in 2005, and loaned me a lot of money when I really needed it. If it weren't for you, I probably wouldn't have graduated. Looking back, aside from this argument, you were probably the best roommate I ever had. So I hate doing this.

You lied to your friends in order to score points in a political argument. Moreover, it was a political argument you started. You just wanted to stir up shit, because you were bitter about your party losing, and you decided to do so at the expense of your friends.

On the one hand, I hate that a stupid political argument is getting between us, but on the other hand, I know that as long as I know you, it's just going to be this argument, over and over, more obnoxious every time. So, so long then. Defriended, and since I'm not going to TCon, probably not going to see you again. Sorry, Patrick.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 23rd, 2008 01:36 pm (UTC)
I made a jump in logic and used a real world equivalent to the Stargate Apophis. I (evidently) incorrectly correlated an attempt at connection between the fictional negative press for Apophis, and the real world negative press for McCain.

My intention was not to lie to my friends - any more than was my KISS/Colts Conspiracy. I was hoping to use it as an exercise to challenge my friends thinking.

I am sorry you feel I have deceived you.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 23rd, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)
I should make myself clear here. I was hoping to use these last two posts as an exercise, and not the KISS/Colts Conspiracy posts. The KISS/Colts Conspiracy post were an attempt at humour.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
Given that few of your friends let the media tell them how to vote anyway... I mean, I didn't watch MSNBC or Fox for the duration of the campaign... I think we're more concerned that you lied to us for the sake of a worthless "gotcha" than the fact that Keith Olbermann doesn't like McCain while Bill O'Reilly does.

I mean, what have you really proved here? We all already knew that you can't trust the media - any of it. Should we stop trusting you too?
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry if you feel betrayed - it was not my intention to go for a gotcha. I had intended that to post this shortly after the original post, but I life got in the way.
I thought that (if posted the study results first) many people would ignore them because the results do not agree with their world view... but if I played into those biases (in this case FOXNews coverage is not balanced and clearly favors the right), I could better demonstrate that not everything you believe is true.

Everyone has a predilection to believe a certain way, and I was hoping these posts would help challenge your thought processes.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
I think there's a difference between polls that have been skewed by the media, which you can take account of by knowing the source, if they're left, you know the likely pushed it one way and vice versa.

Here, you just outright lied, period. No if ands or buts, you lied and abused everyone's trust in you in the process. I disagree with you, but I've always believed that you believe what you say, I don't disagree on facts. However, here you intentionally fabricated 'truth'. It will be a long time before I don't question every single thing you say again.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 23rd, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
I don't believe the study was about polling, but the actual news coverage itself.

I am sorry you feel I lied to you and abused your trust - As I have said before, that was not my intent anymore than it was in my KISS/Colts Conspiracy posts.

But intent isn't everything... You feel betrayed, so I offer you my sincerest apology.

[User Picture Icon]
Date:December 2nd, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
We will just have to see where it goes. I feel like I am constantly defending myself whenever I discuss anything with you.

You seem to assume things about what happens in my life and don't really seem to realize the true extent of how awful this country can be if you're part of the wrong crowd.

I used to be conservative/libertarian, much like you, but then the world beat the living hell out of me and I had no recourse what so ever on any level, because no one cares. There is only so much one person can do when most of society is against you even EXISTING. I am constantly questioned and told that I am a LIAR a PERVERT and I should not exist, I should not even have the right to use the restroom, EITHER restroom, because I will somehow pervert any child I am near. Can you imagine how demoralizing such incidents can be? They occurred DAILY in Virginia.

I was a shattered wreck for several years because of what people did to me, people who were 'friends' before hand and suddenly would spray Lysol on anything I touched because they assumed I had suddenly become disease infested because I was no longer part of their group.

It sickens me and the GOP will use the same commentary the people who called me living filth, just with it polished up a bit to SEEM less insulting. I feel that I am a criminal by default in my own country, I felt that I was under siege. I had to live in constant fear that I could be brutally murdered like several of my friends just for being alive.

That changes a person.

I feel like I am always on the defensive in the real world, as I have to justify everything I do constantly. Then you suddenly made a mockery of political discourse, something I have appreciated very much with you. It gets heated, but it's never insulting and I haven't felt any of the issues I fled from in Virginia in our discussions, but this changed that. It felt like a stab in the back.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
None of this changes the fact that I've been treated like shit by the outgoing administration, the cops, the media, just about everyone in virginia. The current administration and a McCain administration was perfectly OK with it being this way and saw no need to change a god damn thing. That makes them 'the enemy'. I am subhuman to most of this country and I don't see why I have to f'ing sit back and take it, over and over and over and over and over. If they hear my story, they'll make with the sad eyes and say 'I'm so sorry' but then they won't do jack f'ing shit.

I could care less about the media this, or the media that, I want responsibility to what happens to people in my situation, but no, no, that'll never happen, because we aren't people. We're scum, we're dirt, refuse, not even worth a second's thought, especially not to the f'ing cops. I am heading home for thanksgiving next week and I am honestly scared for my life, because going to Virginia is like going into some parallel world. I am scum, and nothing else to the majority of the residents. I've had two people I know in Virginia MURDERED this year and I haven't seen a single newspaper article on them. Unless it's tabloid journalism they don't give a damn about anything.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 01:16 pm (UTC)
I do not think that the outgoing administration personally treated you like anything, and do not think the new administration will treat you any different. I do think that the new executive branch, and the new(ish) legislative branch will attempt to greatly expand the size and scope of the federal government. I also think the larger the size and scope of government, the less likely to be free we become.

In your case, I hope I am wrong, and you get the things you desire.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
My name change/gender marker change alteration flags me when I travel. I got the molestation treatment in most airports, until recently (as some rules finally got established) there was always a debate on whether a male or a female was allowed to touch me.

One of the first things on Obama's plate, and what he wants to push Congress to do, is to pass discrimination law for these sorts of incidents. As it stands right now, if I get fired/mistreated/abused/mocked/*.* I have no room to do anything at all unless someone outright assaults me and even then it's almost impossible to get the cops to do anything, because they just view it as male on male violence not worth their time, even if the guy happened to be screaminig 'die faggot!' while beating me and going into a frothing rage that felt like something out of a bad movie, they won't touch the incident with a 10foot pole.

Will the new administration make everything magically better? Of course not, but I believe it will get me more OPTIONS, which is what I view as liberty. Right now I live in terror, I am afraid to travel, afraid to travel into my home state because of the intensity of the bigotry there. Do you know how screwed up that is, do actually be SCARED of your home town?
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 22nd, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Honestly, as a post by a friend in a blog I took it as you telling us you had been wrong about something. Buried amongst the hundred or so other posts on my friendslist about an issue I consider FAR more important coming out of the election (Prop 8), it was of note to me only that you felt the need to tell us you were wrong about the media and to take your statement at face value. Had I actually wanted to comment on or relay your information to someone I might have looked more closely, but the medium of LJ (as I use it) is not a medium of fact dissemination, it's a medium of expression amongst friends, so why WOULD I need to fact-check my friends?
Date:November 22nd, 2008 09:23 pm (UTC)

How very meta..

So, this is a followup test to your test to see if people would click the link this time and see if what you said this time is what Pew said?

So, in reality, it was FOX News that had the most balanced coverage.

Things look much better for Barack Obama—and much worse for John McCain—on MSNBC than in most other news outlets. On the Fox News Channel, the coverage of the presidential candidates is something of a mirror image of that seen on MSNBC.

Not _quite_ what you claim. Both Fox News and MSNBC are partisan, with a slight difference being that MSNBC doesn't make any claims to the contrary.

You keep using the word balanced but I do not think it means what you think it means. Let's take a hypothetical situation. Pol Pot runs for president with Stalin as his VP pick on a platform of forced reeducation, mass murder, and planned economies. On the other side is Ronald Reagan with Lincoln as his VP running on a platform of increased prosperity and freedom for all. On top of that, Pol Pot develops the habit of shooting at members of the audience and Stalin climbs on top of the debate moderator and starts chewing on his face.

Would you expect the media to provide equally positive coverage of both sides? While that is obviously a farcical example, McCain ran a poor campaign with major mistakes made. McCain presented himself very poorly in the second debate (the infamous stage wandering). There is no way to show that without making him look bad and to not show it would deprive voters who did not watch the full debate the truth. While you can present what happened in a biased way (such as the Daily Show's repeated mockings of it), simply showing it is not bias but will make McCain look bad.

Also, just as a note, the study did not cover all of Fox News' coverage - for example, the notorious Fox and Friends morning show was not factored in.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 23rd, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)

I apologize

I was a bit skeptical of your original post. Mostly because I've read articles about the bias in the media. However, I let it go at face value. You're absolutely right, I should have checked my sources. I always say that people ought to check the sources - but I rarely do myself. And I will admit - I am naturally more skeptical of news I had not heard before with a conservative bias than I am of news with a liberal bias; probably entirely due to my personal philosophy.

The article I read about the liberal bias that made the most sense was an apology for it from Slate. There, I as informed that the bias mostly came from the editors, who liked the "Obama Phenomenon." Most writers actually didn't like him - he was very closed off. They preferred Hilary, and later, McCain. The editor for Slate then apologized for why their magazine was so biased (which was admitted to), and then went on to try and explain why. The editors could try to push out the balance - but the Obama camp had so much better things to write about. Pretty much the professionals saying straight up what candle and rbandrews are trying to tell you (although with more down to earth examples about large rallies vs in-fighting).

Anyway, my point is - you are absolutely right about checking my sources. I apologize that I didn't, and you have done a wonderful job of showing me the light. I'll start by checking out you. What's the first one? A liberal bias? Nope. Just discussed that. Scratch that one off the list.

And what about those links you posted? Well, let's see. I had heard previously that Palin thought Africa was a continent. In fact, I heard that from Newsweek, a pretty reputable source. And your source... confirms the story, only questions who was the leak. Okay, there's another one down. Man, you really are a bad source, aren't you?

I'm not even going to check the others. I knew about those off the top of my head, I'm not going to dig through the rest. Clearly you just aren't trustworthy enough (and I'm not even talking about the stunt you pulled).


I really don't care that you pulled this trick. It sounds like something I would do. And it did teach me something about trusting my sources. I thought I was already pretty good about that, and clearly I am not. So, it also taught me a lesson in humility.

So. Here's the deal. If you write another post, this time with a real apology about being wrong (you can pick either one of the two I found above), I will write a post about being wrong. I will write a post about a liberal bias. No jokes, no fake, no nothing. Since you are clearly willing to pull tricks, you write the post first.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:November 23rd, 2008 01:18 pm (UTC)

You are correct.

You are correct. I have incorrectly attributed the story as FALSE, and have corrected it above. I'm sorry if you (and other people) believe this was an attempt at further deception. It was not.

Because I was rushed for time (as I said earlier - life getting in the way), I did not follow my own advice and thoroughly read the article MSNBC retracts false Palin story. I was using SNOPES to debunk the Palin rumours. If you are unfamiliar withs SNOPES, it is one of the best places on the net to use to determine if an internet/urban legend is true.
I did a search on Snopes for Palin Africa, and found the above story about the retracted story. I read the Headline, and the first few paragraph and believed it stated as I claimed.
I was sure that I had heard that the story was false, so I fell into the same trap that I wanted to point out in this exercise.
I have attempted to further debunk the story, the best I can come up with is quotes from this ABC News story:
One top McCain aide came to Palin's defense today. Randy Scheunemann, McCain's top foreign policy adviser who helped prepare Palin for her vice presidential debate, praised Palin's campaign effort and intelligence...

"I've been working over 20 years in Washington and I've been around literally dozens and dozens of politicians. She is among the smartest, toughest most capable politicians I've ever dealt with," Scheunemann said. "She has a photographic memory."

Scheunemann suggested the Africa and NAFTA incidents were inaccurate.

"I was not present for all of her sessions, so I can't disprove that," he told ABC News. "I severely doubt it that is accurate. It's certainly not accurate in any of the sessions I had with her."

That, of course does not fully debunk the story, but as SNOPES has said (on a different subject):
It may or may not be true, but a definitive determination can't be made since anonymous sources can't be contacted for verification, and no one else has come forward to corroborate the account.

Again, I am sorry for the pretense of deception and I have corrected it above.
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