Wednesday, 22 October 2008


Ken Berwitz

Periodically I put up ratings for the three most watched cable news networks.  Today's the day.

Here are their ratings for the past week, as described by

Cable Ranker: Week of October 13

Fox News Channel extended its run in the top two cable news channels to five weeks, placing 2nd last week in Total Viewers during prime time (Live+SD) with an average of 3,296,000. CNN finished 5th (2,219,000), MSNBC 7th (1,573,000) and Headline News 27th (727,000). MSNBC and HLN were up week-to-week.

In total Day, FNC was 4th (1,481,000), CNN 9th (1,012,000), MSNBC 12th (686,000) and CNBC 30th (376,000).

Click here to see the full ranker.

FYI - The #1 network was (non-news format) TBS, which jumped to #1 because it was airing Major League Baseball's playoffs. 


Ken Berwitz

Michael Barone, writing for the Wall Street Journal, has a terrific article out regarding the accuracy - real or imagined - of political polls.  This should be required reading for anyone who lives and dies by them (which, sadly, is a ton of people these days, and just about all of the media).

Here it is:

Are the Polls Accurate?

Reading them right is more art than science.

[Commentary] Martin Kozlowski

To start with, political polling is inherently imperfect. Academic pollsters say that to get a really random sample, you should go back to a designated respondent in a specific household time and again until you get a response. But political pollsters who must report results overnight have to take the respondents they can reach. So they weight the results of respondents in different groups to get a sample that approximates the whole population they're sampling.

Another problem is the increasing number of cell phone-only households. Gallup and Pew have polled such households, and found their candidate preferences aren't much different from those with landlines; and some pollsters have included cell-phone numbers in their samples. A third problem is that an increasing number of Americans refuse to be polled. We can't know for sure if they're different in some pertinent respects from those who are willing to answer questions.

Professional pollsters are seriously concerned about these issues. But this year especially, many who ask if we can trust the polls are usually concerned about something else: Can we trust the poll when one of the presidential candidates is black?

It is commonly said that the polls in the 1982 California and the 1989 Virginia gubernatorial races overstated the margin for the black Democrats who were running -- Tom Bradley and Douglas Wilder. The theory to account for this is that some poll respondents in each case were unwilling to say they were voting for the white Republican.

Further Reading

Tom Bradley Didn't Lose Because of Race Voters rejected his liberal policies.
By Sal Russo 10/20/2008

It's not clear that race was the issue. Recently pollster Lance Tarrance and political consultant Sal Russo, who worked for Bradley's opponent George Deukmejian, have written (Mr. Tarrance in, and Mr. Russo on this page) that their polls got the election right and that public pollsters failed to take into account a successful Republican absentee voter drive. Blair Levin, a Democrat who worked for Bradley, has argued in the same vein in the New York Times. In Virginia, Douglas Wilder was running around 50% in the polls and his Republican opponent Marshall Coleman was well behind; yet Mr. Wilder won with 50.1% of the vote.

These may have been cases of the common phenomenon of the better-known candidate getting about the same percentage from voters as he did in polls, and the lesser-known candidate doing better with voters than he had in the polls. Some significant percentage of voters will pull the lever for the Republican (or the Democratic) candidate even if they didn't know his name or much about him when they entered the voting booth. In any case, Harvard researcher Daniel Hopkins, after examining dozens of races involving black candidates, reported this year, at a meeting of the Society of Political Methodology, that he'd found no examples of the "Bradley Effect" since 1996.

And what about Barack Obama? In most of the presidential primaries, Sen. Obama received about the same percentage of the votes as he had in the most recent polls. The one notable exception was in New Hampshire, where Hillary Clinton's tearful moment seems to have changed many votes in the last days.

Yet there was a curious anomaly: In most primaries Mr. Obama tended to receive higher percentages in exit polls than he did from the voters. What accounts for this discrepancy?

While there is no definitive answer, it's worth noting that only about half of Americans approached to take the exit poll agree to do so (compared to 90% in Mexico and Russia). Thus it seems likely that Obama voters -- more enthusiastic about their candidate than Clinton voters by most measures (like strength of support in poll questions) -- were more willing to fill out the exit poll forms and drop them in the box.

What this suggests is that Mr. Obama will win about the same percentage of votes as he gets in the last rounds of polling before the election. That's not bad news for his campaign, as the polls stand now. The average of recent national polls, as I write, shows Mr. Obama leading John McCain by 50% to 45%.

If Mr. Obama gets the votes of any perceptible number of undecideds (or if any perceptible number of them don't vote) he'll win a popular vote majority, something only one Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter, has done in the last 40 years.

In state polls, Mr. Obama is currently getting 50% or more in the averages in states with 286 electoral votes, including four carried by George W. Bush -- Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico and Virginia. He leads, with less than 50%, in five more Bush '04 states with 78 electoral votes -- Florida, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio. It's certainly plausible, given the current state of opinion, that he would carry several if not all of them.

Of course, the balance of opinion could change, as it has several times in this campaign, and as it has in the past. Harry Truman was trailing Thomas E. Dewey by 5% in the last Gallup poll in 1948, conducted between Oct. 15 and 25 -- the same margin by which Mr. Obama seems to be leading now. But on Nov. 2, 18 days after Gallup's first interviews and eight days after its last, Truman ended up winning 50% to 45%. Gallup may well have gotten it right when in the field; opinion could just have changed.

We have no way of knowing, since George Gallup was just about the only public pollster back then, and he decided on the basis of his experience in the three preceding presidential elections that there was no point in testing opinion in the last week. Now we have a rich body of polling data, of varying reliability, available.

And we will have the exit poll, the partial results of which will be released to the media clients of the Edison/Mitofsky consortium at 5 p.m. on Election Day. These clients should, I believe, use the numbers cautiously for the following reasons.

First, the exit polls in the recent presidential elections have tended to show the Democrats doing better than they actually did, partly because of interviewer error. The late Warren Mitofsky, in his study of the 2004 exit poll, found that the largest errors came in precincts where the interviewers were female graduate students.

Second, the exit polls in almost all the primaries this year showed Mr. Obama doing better than he actually did. The same respondent bias -- the greater willingness of Obama voters to be polled -- which apparently occurred on primary days could also occur in the exit poll on Election Day, and in the phone polls of early and absentee voters that Edison/Mitofsky will conduct to supplement it.

The exit poll gives us, and future political scientists, a treasure trove of information about the voting behavior of subgroups of the electorate, and also some useful insight into the reasons why people voted as they did. And the current plethora of polls gives us a rich lode of information on what voters are thinking at each stage of the campaign. But political polls are imperfect instruments. Reading them right is less a science than an art. We can trust the polls, with qualifications. We will have a chance to verify as the election returns come in.

Mr. Barone, a senior writer at U.S. News & World Report and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is co-author of "The Almanac of American Politics 2008" (National Journal Group). From 1974 to 1981 he was a vice president of Peter D. Hart Research Associates, a polling firm.


Mr. Barone has hit on a lot of issues that should make anyone think twice before buying into political polling in general, and this election's presidential polling in particular.  Readers of this blog know that I have a number of other issues regarding how polling is conducted, but I'll save that reprise for another time.

Remember what you've just read the next time a breathless news anchor tells you about the latest numbers and what they mean.



Ken Berwitz

As readers of this blog know (as opposed to a good many people who exclusively rely on mainstream media for their 'news'), william ayers, the domestic terrorist and human colostomy bag, was given $50 to $100 million dollars by the Annenberg foundation to improve Chicago's schools.  The project was called The Annenberg Challenge. 

And who did ayers put in charge of handing out this money?  A then-virtually unknown "street organizer" named Barack Obama, that's who.

Let's stop here for a second:  Knowing this, can anyone with an IQ above 37 possibly believe that ayers and Obama had just a nominal, barely-know-each-other relationship?  Of course not.

Now, moving along:  Where was that money allocated?  The answer is, until now we haven't had any idea.  Why?  Because mainstream media are far more interested in Sarah Palin's former brother-in-law than Barack Obama's ties to an unrepentant terrorist.

Enter Stanley Kurtz

Stanley Kurtz is an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute and a fellow at the Hoover institution.  He received his Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University and later taught at Harvard, winning several teaching awards for his work in a "Great Books" program. Kurtz was also Dewey Prize Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Chicago.

As Groucho would say, "that ain't chopped liver".

But Mr. Kurtz has a bit of a problem.  He is a political conservative.  Therefore he is to be reviled and ignored.

Unlike most media, Kurtz was highly interested in learning how all that ayers/Obama Annenberg money was spent.  So he asked the holder of Annenberg Challenge records (and employer of william ayers), the University of Chicago, to see them.

But a funny thing happened when he did.  The U. of Chicago suddenly clammed up and said "no".  Why?  "Oh, someone objected".  Who?  No answer.

Only after heavy pressure did they finally release these records so that Mr. Kurtz (and anyone else in the media) could review them.

Let's stop again:  You are the editor of a major newspaper or a cable news network.  The Democratic presidential nominee was responsible for disbursing $50 to $100 million dollars in educational grants.  And the entity holding the records of where that money was allocated attempted to withhold them..  Would you not be interested in what was in those records? 

Assuming the the editor had that IQ above 37 we talked about earlier (which should not be as hard to fathom as it is), the answer, of course, is yes. 

But Mr. Kurtz appears to have had little if any company as he sifted through the Annenberg Challenge records.

Well, here, via today's editorial in the New York Post, is a hint of what he is finding out: 


October 22, 2008 --

So, what was Barack Obama up to when he ran former Weather Underground bomber Bill Ayers' "education reform" foundation?

Not much good - at least according to the guy in charge of Chicago's public schools while he was there.

"There was a total lack of accountability" at Obama and Ayers' Chicago Annenberg Challenge, former city school superintendent Paul Vallas has told The Post. Indeed, "If you went back and asked, you'd be hard-pressed to find out how the money was spent."

Well, maybe.

As it turns out, the Obama-helmed CAC was directing big bucks toward the propagation - in Chicago public schools - of the whack-job racist ideology most famously preached by Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

That's the bottom line of research on CAC documents by Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

For example, the Obama-led foundation funneled more than $200,000 to an outfit called the Coalition for Improved Education in South Shore.

Its mission: training public-school teachers in "Afrocentric" education, a pseudo-scientific movement that (as a trainer brought in with CAC funds put it) rejects Western civilization, and America in particular, as "white supremacist" and seeks to "recover our disrupted ancestral culture."

Reading, writing and 'rithmetic this isn't. All of which gives the lie to Obama's breezy assertion in last week's debate that his CAC activities were somehow bipartisan or mainstream.

It also certainly explains why schools chosen for the foundation's largesse showed no gains in student performance.

Sadly, this latest revelation also casts new light on one of Obama's finest moments - his candid and hope-filled primary-season address on race in America.

Back then, faced with Rev. Wright's equally anti-American sermons, he made the plausible case that while his devotion to his pastor was based on 20 years of community involvement, he rejected Wright's extreme views.

But how can anyone now take that assertion seriously, given that he spent years funding the teaching of those ideas?

So what do we have here?  

Even with the records, most of where that money was spent remains hidden.  But what has been uncovered suggests that some (who knows how much) went to at least one scandalously racist enterprise.

NOW are mainstream media (other than the New York Post and Fox News) interested?  NOW do you think there will be an army of investigative reporters from the print and broadcast media going through the material Mr. Kurtz did and asking their own questions?

Sure there will.  Two weeks after hell freezes over and the day after osama bin laden comes out of hiding to do a segment on Dancing with the Stars.

Bottom line:  In honor of Barack Obama, objective journalism has ceased to exist during this election cycle.  I wonder if we'll ever see it again.


Ken Berwitz

Since he was nominated, I've put up a lot of Joe Biden's mother lode of gaffes.  But Michelle Malkin has compiled a nice, tight list of some of the major ones in her latest column (they don't pay her enough to write the number of words it would take to show the rest).

I thought you might like to see her list, so here it is:

The increasingly erratic, super-gaffetastic Joe Biden

By Michelle Malkin    October 22, 2008 08:32 AM

A heartbeat away

My syndicated column today takes you through a tour of all the latest Joe Biden gaffes that arent getting replayed endlessly on the nightly news and comedy shows. I said yesterday that the McCain camp ought to toss the erratic label right back in Joe Bidens face and defuse that rhetorical bomb. Right on cue, Team Obama has released a new ad called Erratic.

Balls in your court, McCain. Or will it be left to Sarah again to strike back?


The increasingly erratic, super-gaffetastic Joe Biden
by Michelle Malkin
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2008

If the prospect of Joe Biden sitting a heartbeat away from the presidency doesnt give you palpitations, you are not paying attention.

Hysterical Sarah Palin-bashers on the unhinged left and elitist right have dominated campaign press coverage and pop culture. Theyve ridiculed her family, her appearance, and her speech patterns. Theyve derided her character, her parenting skills, her readiness, and her intellect.

Meanwhile, the increasingly erratic, super-gaffetastic Joe Biden gets a pass. What does the guy have to do to earn the relentless scrutiny and merciless mockery he deserves? Answer: Wear high heels, shoot caribou, and change the D next to his name to an R.

Team Obama is hammering John McCain as erratic in the closing days of the election campaign. There are now 615,000 Google hits and counting using the search terms erratic McCain. Last week, the New York Times devoted an entire article to the Obama-Biden line of attack, titled In Friendly Region, Biden Cites McCain as Erratic.

Whos erratic? Throughout the primary and general election cycles, Biden has lurched from attacking Obama as not-ready-for-primetime ( The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training, September 2007) to ready-to-lead ( Barack Obama is ready. This is his time, August 2008) and back again. This week, Biden warned America that an Obama victory would invite a dangerous global showdown between tyrants and the naf Obama. Mark my words, Biden said Sunday at a Democratic fund-raiser. It will not be six months [after the inauguration] before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. In a follow-up appearance, he told followers to brace for the worst and gird your loins.

Out of Bidens mouth, this is called candor. Out of anyone elses mouth, it would be fear-mongering, negative campaigning, and a distraction.

Tooting his own horn while vandalizing his running mates, Biden bragged: Ive forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know. Yeah. Colleagues like that guy who had a mere 143 days of Senate experience before launching his presidential bid and choosing you to shore up his meager credibility, Joe.

In fact, Biden has spent the entire campaign questioning his running mates judgment. Last month, he mused out loud: Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more than I am to be vice president of the United States of AmericaShe is easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America and quite frankly it might have been a better pick than me. Biden assailed the campaigns position on clean coal, openly criticized the campaigns idiotic ad attacking John McCain for not using e-mail, and warned the pro-gun control Obama that if he tries to fool with my Beretta, hes got a problem.

Dan Quayle will have POTATOE etched on his gravestone. But how many times have late-night comedians and cable shows replayed the video of senior statesman and six-term Sen. Bidens own spelling mishap last week while attacking John McCains economic plan?

Look, Johns last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S.

No, Joe. D-O-H is a three-letter-word.

Nightly news shows still havent tired of replaying Sarah Palins infamous interview with Katie Couric. But how many times have they replayed Joe Bidens botched interview with Couric last month in which he cluelessly claimed: When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didnt just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, Look, heres what happened.

Er, heres what really happened: Roosevelt wasnt president when the market crashed in 1929. As for appearing on TV, it was still in its infant stages and wasnt available to the general public until at least ten years later.

During the lone VP debate earlier this month, the increasingly erratic, super-gaffetastic Joe Biden demonstrated more historical ignorance that Sarah Palin would never have been able to get away with: Vice President Cheneys been the most dangerous vice president weve had probably in American history, Biden said. He has the idea he doesnt realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, thats the executive he works in the executive branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.

Article 1 of the Constitution defines the role of the legislative branch, not the executive branch. You would think someone who has served 36 years in government the same someone who is quick to remind others of his high IQ and longtime Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship would know better.

Joe Bidens erratic and gaffe-tastic behavior is the least of Americas worries. Hes worse than a blunderbuss. Hes an incurable narcissist with chronic diarrhea of the mouth. Hes a phony and a pretender who fashions himself a foreign policy expert, constitutional scholar, and wordly wise man. Hes a man who cant control his impulses.

And he could be a heartbeat away. Now, back to your regularly scheduled Palin-says-You Betcha skit.

Are you worried about putting the eminently unqualified Sarah Palin a heartbeat from the presidency?

Well you just read puddin'head Joe's wit and wisdom.  Does he make you more comfortable?

And that's before we get to the fact that Barack Obama, with no executive experience of any kind, is not running for the Vice Presidency, but would be President from day one.

Heck, it's enough to make you a McCain supporter.  Think about it........

steve schneider if biden was a republican every day we would hear about how stupid he is. steve (10/23/08)

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