November 22, 2004

Mommy, make the scary bloggers stop hurting me, part XXIV

The Washington Post's Richard Morin has a strange definition of "abundant arrogance." He thinks it's bloggers who are guilty of that, because they published exit poll data on election day.

Let's be clear: bloggers didn't get anything wrong. They accurately reported numbers that were themselves inaccurate -- and for the most part made it clear that this might very well be the case. The fundamental question is, should questionable information only be available to "mature adults" like Morin? He's not saying HE should be kept in the dark after all. The argument that the public can't handle the same facts that people in the media can is what's truly arrogant.

Morin even says that "If a few hours on the roller coaster of ecstasy and agony were all that anyone had to endure, only the political junkies would be interested in the whys and wherefores of the exit poll confusion. But the false picture had real impact." He gives three examples of that impact. Let's take them one by one.

"The stock market plummeted nearly 100 points in the last two hours of trading."

This is the first time I've ever heard someone argue that markets are more efficient when investors have less access to information. It would be easy to come up with a list of things that investors should or should not be told in order to prevent the market from dipping, but if you believe in capitalism at all, you'd realize very quickly that this philosophy is a recipe for disaster.

"the evening news was replete with veiled hints of good news to come for the Kerry campaign."

But the TV commentators didn't get their exit poll data from bloggers. They got it because they commissioned the exit polls. Would it really be better if the public was allowed to try to guess what newscasters knew based on the hints they dropped then to let them see all the same facts themselves and draw their own conclusions. For all the reasons Morin says HE could tell something was off with the exit polls -- which the veiled hints did not reveal -- isn't it better for the rest of us to be able to figure that out rather than having to decode the interpretations of Larry King?

And finally, "some disappointed and angry Bush-bashers have seized upon the early numbers as evidence of something amiss in the outcome."

This is the most arrogant and insidious argument yet. I'm not among those who think the election was stolen, but the premise of this statement -- that in a democracy, voters must not be allowed to hear information that might lead them to erroneous conclusions about the people who hold power or the process that got them there -- is fundamentally un-American. The fact that bloggers were able to crunch the numbers a thousand different ways with varying results has, overall, been better for the process than if the government and the media had simply colluded to tell people, trust us, everything worked out fine.

In summation: What a fucking dick.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


"Accurately reported numbers that were themselves inaccurate"...sounds like Bush and WMD to me.

Right, because Bush said, Here's the intelligence we're working from and you should take it with a grain of salt because most of our analysts don't believe it. Oh wait, no he didn't. He said, Lookout! Mushroom cloud!

And to paraphrase a bumpersticker, when Wonkette lied, no one died.

No, no one died...you just made me and several colleagues look like idiots for gloating all morning, then waking up to Bush Part II on Wednesday...besides the blogs weren't "take this with a grain of salt, but early exit polls suggest Kerry is in the lead." They were all like "Kerry projected winner...could be a landslide!" Its the same thing...ass.

Yes, it's all Daniel's fault.

Sorry, Joe, Google remembers things differently.

Now, maybe you read less responsible, salt-free blogs, though I doubt there were any that said, "These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions"

Nor were there any (I don't think) that knew of exit polls contradicting the ones they were posting, but pretended that those didn't exist, or that strong-armed the pollsters to come up with different numbers. That would be a closer analogy.

And, to get back to my most important point, I'm sorry that you put too much faith in exit polls, but I still maintain that it is the job of the media to give people information, not to withhold information from them on the grounds that they will use it to make themselves look like idiots all morning.

"you just made me and several colleagues look like idiots for gloating all morning"

Grow up, Joe- Daniel didn't make you look like an idiot. You did that on your own when you chose to gloat. Try some responsibility on for size, and cut the childish whining.

Now, now, Michael. Don't disrespect the Bing.

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