NZ media on reporting US politics

November 7th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A senior journalist pointed out to me that after the first presidential debate, Radio New Zealand reported that Obama’s performance in the first debate was “disappointing”.

ABC in Australia used the more accurate and non-partisan description that it was “widely panned” because of course Obama’s performance was only disappointing if you were a supporter of his.

Language can be quite powerful, in the way it can reinforce impressions. The journalists who pointed it out to me said he is a believer in not using partisan adjectives in news reports. This is especially the case for state owned .

And we even see this a bit today, with a Stuff story which says “Could Mitt Romney really steal the White House from Barack Obama today?” – I don’t think the use of language in this (otherwise good) story is a huge issue. But I do think that the use of language in reporting can be quite powerful in affecting views.

 

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57 Responses to “NZ media on reporting US politics”

  1. Fairfacts Media (372 comments) says:

    With all the tales of fraud around, it looks like Obama will steal the presidency from Romney.
    In other words, the corrupt Democratic machine is stealing democracy from what used to be the Land of the Free.
    Typical Fairfax media though, no wonder it is suffering!

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  2. KiwiGreg (3,249 comments) says:

    Really, employees of state-owned media might be left wing? Self-selection bias?

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  3. calendar girl (1,216 comments) says:

    Many reporters and commentators in this country – graduates of “one of the best education systems in the world”, of course – wouldn’t comprehend language nuances of this importance.

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  4. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    This would be the same blessed Radio New Zealand who reported the other day – and it was indeed an interesting story – that the SAS were heading back to Afghanistan to hunt down Taliban members who killed our soldiers. The initial report took the form of a nearly 10 minute interview with freelance journalist Jon Stephenson, who claimed to have inside sources in the SAS and US military.

    Then later in the morning the Prime Minister said the story was wrong, completely – it had no basis in fact. And then later the Chief of Defence came out and said the same thing, the SAS weren’t returning to Afghanistan.

    But that didn’t stop Radio NZ playing the full interview with John Stephenson on its Late Edition programme just after 10.30pm, and then making no mention whatsoever of the fact that the PM and CDF had rubbished the story.

    Radio New Zealand: Fair and Balanced

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  5. Mark (1,480 comments) says:

    Reasonable point however it is hard to imagine that commentary from RNZ or ABC is going to have a significant impact on the outcome.

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  6. flipper (3,985 comments) says:

    Young, Mentiplay, Hancock, Symmans, Templeton, Benton, McMillan, Inglis, Scherer et al………

    Oh for a return to days of such quality.

    Note: Only Inglis worked for either red Radio or the state “owned” NZB/NZBC.

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  7. Scott (1,780 comments) says:

    Very good point DPF. However I have been convinced for some years that the media is widely biased towards the left. Sticking with the United States, the media have been for Obama since they decided to adopt him as their candidate while running against Hillary Clinton.

    One excellent example is the debacle at Benghazi. If George Bush had misled the American people the way Obama has then the mainstream media would have been pounding that drum endlessly until election day. Because it was their guy they wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Only centre-right FoxNews has pursued the story.

    The media in New Zealand are worse and just assume left-wing mindset as the only rational mindset to have. For example on the incredibly radical desire to redefine marriage as suitable for gays and lesbians, they openly espouse that cause. Anyone who disagrees is a bigot in their eyes. The reason we have suffered so many years of radical social change is because the media are creatures of the left and are for it.

    Note that when national tries to introduce a very small trial of charter schools they are against it. As if this was some radical move that would destroy our education system. Gay marriage no problem. A few Charter schools? Will that is the end of civilisation right there.

    We need more new media outlets. The New Zealand equivalent of FoxNews would be a good start.

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  8. Manolo (13,580 comments) says:

    Listen to NewstalkZB and all its Obama supporters: Hoskings, Woodham, Soper, etc all rooting for the Messiah every day. Even Larry Williams sounds unsure about Romney, whose only supporter is Leighton Smith.

    The bias is for all to see.

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  9. Neil (579 comments) says:

    NZ journalists and commentators are ignorant about US politics and the process. Most are from the left and very sympathetic to the liberal US media bias of the Washington Post,New York Times and MSNBC. The polls are all over the place. Todays vote will sort that out.
    On Q & A on Sunday who did TV1 have as their commentator but that biased Chris Matthews, a prime Obama cheerleader on the Democrat oriented MSNBC. Hardly a good person to give an evenhanded view.
    Both sides claim they will win. Someone will be wrong !!

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  10. BeaB (2,118 comments) says:

    Why we need so many NZ reporters in the US is beyond me when we junkies can watch miles of US election stuff on TV with real experts, not our amateurs looking for angles or pontificating vacuously. One even said the result will depend on how many people turn out to vote. Well, that’s a new one for elections!

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  11. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    ‘We need more new media outlets. The New Zealand equivalent of FoxNews would be a good start.’

    We get WhaleOil and that’s all we getting

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  12. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    The US news media has a tough
    time telling tough truths.

    And nothing is harder to admit
    than the fact that the basic mechanics
    of government have been highjacked.

    The evidence is overwhelming, but
    they just don’t want to talk about it.

    Truly shocking whistleblower
    testimony about election fraud
    directed from the top.

    Video:

    http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/20489.html

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  13. dime (9,856 comments) says:

    Manolo – can you imagine the ZB newsroom if Romney wins? they will need grief councilors. their obama loving has been a disgrace.

    Hosking is sometimes not a bad guy but every morning this week ive had to hear how “obama saved the motor industry”. the implication being romney would have destroyed it. what a crock of shit.

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  14. Rick Rowling (812 comments) says:

    There is no bias in language use in the NZ MSM or blogs like KB. Only an evil Tory NACT bene-basher rich prick would claim there was.

    /irony tag, because someone won’t get it.

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  15. Pete George (23,476 comments) says:

    Why we need so many NZ reporters in the US is beyond me when we junkies can watch miles of US election stuff on TV with real experts, not our amateurs looking for angles or pontificating vacuously.

    I’ve wondered about this before, I remember John Campbell reporting from amongst a million people at Obama’s inauguration and wondering what the hell he added to the story, apart from “me too”.

    I think it’s a symptom of one of journalism’s biggest deficiencies here – the journalists and the media outlets aren’t content with reporting news, they want to be a part of the news (sometimes they want to be the news).

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  16. dime (9,856 comments) says:

    “the journalists and the media outlets aren’t content with reporting news, they want to be a part of the news (sometimes they want to be the news).”

    well said!!!

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  17. Manolo (13,580 comments) says:

    A good front page: http://www.nypost.com/
    http://michellemalkin.com/2012/11/06/its-time/

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  18. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    I pay no attention to the NZ media on international stories in general; they simply don’t have the budget to cover them properly. The Herald in particular re-runs 24 – 48 hour old stories they’ve purchased from the Telegraph in London.

    Twenty year ago, I guess you’d have no choice as you couldn’t read the international press easily.

    These days with a choice of dozens of overseas news channels and the ability to subscribe to any news paper on a tablet device, why would you want an NZ intermediary giving you comment ?

    As close to the primary source as possible, is always the best way

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  19. tom hunter (4,732 comments) says:

    On Q & A on Sunday who did TV1 have as their commentator but that biased Chris Matthews, a prime Obama cheerleader on the Democrat oriented MSNBC..

    Good god, really? Since Olberman departed that network, Chris “Tingles” Mathews has probably become the crown prince of insanity on it. But before giving yet another example I should note that over a decade ago he ran what was a pretty balanced political/current affairs show and he did not come across on screen as a raving partisan dingbat. So it seems to me that this has been a deliberate decision, both by himself and his masters at the network. They’ve looked at the success of Fox, tried to emulate it from the left-wing side, and pushed Mathews and company to become screechers.

    Funnily enough, on one of the few occasions I listened to hardline lefty Jack Hitt (US Correspondent on Nine To Noon), he was also very dismissive of Mathews and several other members of the MSNBC crowd as “clowns”.

    So, to Mathew’s latest rant – one where he veered from AGW to ……. da, da, daaaaaa. …… The Koch Brothers. He chimed in with a Democrat member of Congress in claiming that the Koch brothers were tightly connected to the oil, gas and coal industry and were opposed to fuel economy standards and alternative energy subsidies. But then it really turned ugly:

    MATTHEWS: Well, Professor Oppenheimer, back in the ‘60s, we called such people pigs. Pigs. No, really, they don’t care about the planet, they don’t care about the destruction of war. All they want is what they got, their stuff. And they want more of it. Is that what we’re facing here, just greed? I’m not talking about the guy working in the coalmine. That’s hard work. I’m talking about people who won’t listen to you, won’t listen to science because they want more stuff.

    MICHAEL OPPENHEIMER, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Listen, Chris, I’m not into name-calling here.

    MATTHEWS: Well, I am.

    OPPENHEIMER: Fine, that’s your job, not mine.

    MATTHEWS: Alright.

    As the site I linked to commented, apart from the factual errors…

    This kind of lunacy is a staple of MSNBC. There is no such thing as legitimate policy disagreement; those who don’t toe the far-left line are “pigs.” At MSNBC, smear and invective have replaced argument, not to mention straight news reporting.

    Koch Industries’ general counsel, Mark Holden, complained to Phil Griffin, MSNBC’s president. He pointed out that Matthews’ smears were inaccurate as well crude and vulgar. Griffin agreed that Matthews had “crossed a line” and apologized for his behavior, saying that it wouldn’t happen again. He admitted that the network has had problems with Matthews before. However, when Griffin followed up with Matthews, Matthews agreed that what he did was inappropriate, but he flatly refused to apologize for his unprofessional conduct. The network has now declined to retract or correct Matthews’ false statements, terming them a matter of opinion.

    So we have the spectacle of MSNBC apologizing in private for its reporter’s smears and falsehoods, while refusing to acknowledge his misconduct publicly.

    But this nut was on TV1’s Q&A? Fuck me. And I wonder when he’ll yield up his nice houses, cars and millions?

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  20. labrator (1,847 comments) says:

    Reminds of the interview with Cam Slater the other idea day where one of the panelists asks “So a hard-right editorial is what the new Truth is going to be?” to which he excellently responded “Well it shows how far left Helen Clark dragged New Zealand if you think I’m hard right

    I’m always amazed at some of the really partisan language people I know use who profess to knowing nothing about politics. The centre moved a long way left in those 9 years.

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  21. Griff (7,517 comments) says:

    Come you masters of war
    You that build all the guns
    You that build the death planes
    You that build the big bombs
    You that hide behind walls
    You that hide behind desks
    I just want you to know
    I can see through your masks

    You that never done nothin’
    But build to destroy
    You play with my world
    Like it’s your little toy
    You put a gun in my hand
    And you hide from my eyes
    And you turn and run farther
    When the fast bullets fly

    Like Judas of old
    You lie and deceive
    A world war can be won
    You want me to believe
    But I see through your eyes
    And I see through your brain
    Like I see through the water
    That runs down my drain

    You fasten the triggers
    For the others to fire
    Then you set back and watch
    When the death count gets higher
    You hide in your mansion
    As young people’s blood
    Flows out of their bodies
    And is buried in the mud

    You’ve thrown the worst fear
    That can ever be hurled
    Fear to bring children
    Into the world
    For threatening my baby
    Unborn and unnamed
    You ain’t worth the blood
    That runs in your veins

    How much do I know
    To talk out of turn
    You might say that I’m young
    You might say I’m unlearned
    But there’s one thing I know
    Though I’m younger than you
    Even Jesus would never
    Forgive what you do

    Let me ask you one question
    Is your money that good
    Will it buy you forgiveness
    Do you think that it could
    I think you will find
    When your death takes its toll
    All the money you made
    Will never buy back your soul

    And I hope that you die
    And your death’ll come soon
    I will follow your casket
    In the pale afternoon
    And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
    Down to your deathbed
    And I’ll stand o’er your grave
    ’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

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  22. dime (9,856 comments) says:

    write that yourself griff?

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  23. tom hunter (4,732 comments) says:

    I should add that, as goes NZ media, so does Germany …:

    Some weeks ago Senator Harry (Dirty) Reid suggested not so obliquely that Mitt Romney was a felon. This was, of course, a scurrilous accusation which the Senator did not bother to back up with the slightest bit of evidence. Nonetheless, Der Spiegel (a normally serious news magazine) ran an entire article as if all of the allegations were true, repeating the accusations as if they were facts.

    Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement of Obama a few days was blown up to Something Big by German television, as if Rick Santorum or even Richard Lugar had endorsed the president. I have had to explain to my friends that (a) Bloomberg had never been a Republican until he decided to run for mayor the first time, and put his name on that column only because the Democrats already had a candidate (b) he had resigned from his nominal membership in the GOP after his first term and (c) is now claiming to be an independent. Anyone who knows New York City–I am talking about you, news writers for German television–could not ignore the fact that except for Rudy Giuliani, no serious Republican has played an important role in the city’s politics for decades.

    …. and France ….:

    During breakfast this morning, I listened to RTL, one of France’s major radio channels (my wife’s choice, not mine). There was a quick report on the impending U.S. presidential election.

    “Yesterday, we followed Barack Obama’s campaign,” a young woman said. “Today we turn to Mitt Romney’s campaign.” All right. Except that “following Romney’s campaign” amounted, incredibly, to an interview with a certain Dr. Gordon, who explained that most Americans were grateful to President Obama for having introduced Obamacare. Especially those women who otherwise would have been deprived of any access to birth control. Some journalist at RTL then explained that Romney would abolish Obamacare. And the report was over.

    Both of those could have been lifted straight from the NZ Media: Bloomberg’s a Republican and he endorsed Obama – and that would be that. No lifting the hood, asking questions, being “investigative”, let alone knowing much about Bloomberg. And no questions about the availability of contraception in the US either.

    Dumb. Worse than dumb actually, in that one might as well just read a press release from the Obama campaign.

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  24. Manolo (13,580 comments) says:

    “Well it shows how far left Helen Clark dragged New Zealand if you think I’m hard right”

    Comrade Edwards replied: “Those were very good times” or words to that effect, speaking like the arselicker he is.

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  25. scrubone (3,095 comments) says:

    You only have a look at the difference between intrade and ipredict – up to 15% bias towards Obama in the NZ market at times.

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  26. Griff (7,517 comments) says:

    I did not think who it was would be in doubt :roll: Robert Allen Zimmerman!
    Seemed an appropriate reply to toms post

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  27. iMP (2,364 comments) says:

    On occasions I find the NZ media’s use of language jaw-droppingly partisan, with heaps of value judgements and one-sided assumptions. I have given up watching US politics in NZ contexts and go to source. The latter is woeful with their teenage broadcasters mouthing inanities and givens to camera from the US and doing nothing to inform us at all.

    “This is a close race and either could win.” “People are going to the polls.” “Barack Obama has been campaigning hard today.” Groan.

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  28. tom hunter (4,732 comments) says:

    Actually Griff I would have though this one was far more appropriate to you – certainly one of my old faves:

    You want more money – of course I don’t mind
    To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes
    And the public gets what the public wants
    But I want nothing this society’s got –
    I’m going underground, (going underground)

    You choose your leaders and place your trust
    As their lies wash you down and their promises rust
    You’ll see kidney machines replaced by rockets and guns
    And the public wants what the public gets ….

    I turn on the news and my body froze
    The braying sheep on my TV screen

    Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!
    Going underground, I’m going underground!

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  29. dime (9,856 comments) says:

    griff – i know who it was. was just a painfully long post… although reading dylan is better than listening to him. eddie vedder does a good cover though

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  30. kiwi in america (2,428 comments) says:

    The NZ media combine the leftward tilt of the US MSM along with a large dose of laziness, ignorance and latent anti-Americanism thrown in. There is zero research done of the reputable publications, think tanks and bloggers on the right here in the US. They will all be shocked when Romney wins.

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  31. Griff (7,517 comments) says:

    Actually I have watched more TV in the last month due to the storm and the election
    If the fox network is aimed at the thinking man we are doomed. Its the trashiest most over hyped, bimbo ridden content less piece of political spin I have ever had the misfortune to watch. I would rather swear at willy on the radio than watch the FOX so called rightwing media.
    Never party is going to help the USA it needs to do an austerity drive reduce government dept and lower the standard of living yet has a choice of print money and increase the dept or slash taxes in its political machine

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  32. iMP (2,364 comments) says:

    But Griff, face it, their anchors are GORGEOUS. And then there;s the women…

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  33. dime (9,856 comments) says:

    Griff – Oreilly is fine. I watch him most days.

    Cant be assed with Hannity. I find it tiresome.

    Im still hoping Megyn Kelly with see the light and leave her husband for me :D

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  34. RightNow (6,986 comments) says:

    Foxy news!

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  35. kowtow (8,323 comments) says:

    Generally the media are behind Obama. After his election 4 years ago the amount of gushing bullshit about the guy was simply astounding.There’s still alot of it about ,but more muted. Presumably because contrary to expectations and promises, He can’t walk on water.

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  36. tom hunter (4,732 comments) says:

    Megyn Kelly ….. sob!

    There’s also Kirsten Powers, who makes regular appearances on Fox to (mostly) defend the Democrats. She voted Obama in ’08 and will do so again I presume, but she’s never hesitated to get stuck into about some of his crap policies, approaches and attitudes. She’s also been scathing about the MSM’s gutless coverage of the Benghazi disaster.

    Did I also say that she’s gorgeous! In fact I saw one segment where she got into quite the spat with Megyn on some issue – which I’m sure had countless numbers of men hoping that Fox would suddenly go Full Trashy….

    Not to be however, both women are too classy for that.

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  37. berend (1,705 comments) says:

    NZ MSM biased? Why would anyone think that!

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  38. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Reports Of Voting Machine Problems, Vote Flipping Begin to Pour In

    Steve Watson – Nov 6, 2012

    Multiple reports of electronic voting machine irregularities have begun to pour in from all over the country as Americans take to the polls today.

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=300459436734170&set=a.225932444186870.49466.225921714187943&type=1

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  39. Phil937 (1 comment) says:

    The argument as to whether people in this country and within the media would prefer a Romney or Obama win is muddied somewhat by the lack of distinction between right wing economics and the social conservatism that is prevalent in the US republican party.
    I think there is a definitely a bias towards more liberal social views in NZ and in the media in general, (probably around the world not just NZ).
    In our electoral process this doesn’t really distinguish us between right leaning (national) or left leaning (labour) because on social issues they are pretty similar. This means that in NZ we align ourselves more on right/ left economic policies (in reality more central) and vote according to policies we agree with.
    This muddies when we follow US politics as social issues ie. Gun control, abortion, evolution/creationism in schools are hot electoral issues.
    It seems to me that in general New Zealanders align themselves more to the democratic party on social issues however this doesn’t by any means correlate to our economic preferences. I would guarantee that there would be people who see themselves as small government right leaning voters who don’t agree with the republican parties underlying social values.
    I think this is a problem for them going forward.

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  40. flipper (3,985 comments) says:

    Tom H…. Yes
    And then there is Dana, is there not?
    ….
    Hannity gives me a paiun.
    O’Reilly? IOh for an OL’eilly in BZ. No disrespoect to iour hist, but the Orca would ciome cloest. Well, so far.
    Van Susteren? Excellent.
    Wallace B eir et al —-allk excellent.

    It is am azing how much gthe lkeft beliueves thedir own bullkshit. The fact is thatg O’RFeilly';s has been the cable leader for 1

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  41. flipper (3,985 comments) says:

    Oh bugger…
    the above was sent beiore finished or corrected for literals/typos. Still message is clear

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  42. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqaNUPxFGHc

    Students sing the states for Chris Christie. Very entertaining

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  43. mpledger (425 comments) says:

    The US should never have gone to electronic vote gathering. It should have remained paper votes with public scrutiny of counting.

    All this electronic counting using computer code that can’t be scrutinised is just open to fraud.

    I guess in todays world it’s better to have a quick wrong answer than a right one.

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  44. Longknives (4,690 comments) says:

    That babyface ‘journalist’ TV1 have in America (Jack?) has a curious habit of pulling a serious and scornful face whenever he mentions Mitt Romney- Yet goes all smiles and positively gushes when he mentions ‘The Messiah’.
    It’s quite simply very unprofessional….

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  45. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    If you want to know about the blatant rigging of the US elections (if you actually haven’t heard about it) this is an excellent analysis and description

    http://www.blackboxvoting.org/

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  46. Longknives (4,690 comments) says:

    Re the Computer voting. I see the left-wing media are frantically reporting that the computers are biased against ‘The Messiah’…
    Are they perhaps sweating a little and looking for a potential excuse??

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  47. Griff (7,517 comments) says:

    Phil937
    It’s the problem of a two dimension electoral system were liberal is left and socialist and the conservative right In New Zealand many on the right are liberal free market. The lefts Neolib .Groups like the moralmajority and churches have far more say in politics than here.

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  48. tom hunter (4,732 comments) says:

    The media reaction is one of the three big things I’m watching the US election for today, along with the key Senate races, and the main event itself.

    I do want to see and hear the reaction of the NZ media – and if Obama loses I want to see Chris Mathews, Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell because it’s going to be deep depression, choking sobs or Full Meltdown – or perhaps all three.

    But after that I think it will be one more day of commenting and then I’m taking the summer off from bloody blogs, or anything online. Too many good books have stacked up on my shelves. I might even finish Shelby Foote’s The Civil War, having stopped in January at the retreat from Gettysburg.

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  49. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    What intrigues me is how many Republican pundits and activists are predicting a veritable landslide for their man. Given the tightness of the polls, it’s only natural that Republicans as well as Democrats can feel optimism about today’s vote, but anyone on either side who is predicting a really decisive victory would have to explain how so many pollsters got it wrong. A lot of the Republicans making wild predictions of a landslide are probably going to end up explaining an Obama win with conspiracy theories, instead of accepting they were mistaken
    http://www.readingthemaps.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/can-republicans-accept-defeat.html

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  50. tom hunter (4,732 comments) says:

    Oh dear. Wasted my time reading a far-left blog only to discover two things.

    First, Michael Barone is listed as the only specific right-wing pundit (and he has a solid, long-time reputation as a political analyst) actually predicting such a thing – and even he bluntly said that he’s willing to take his lumps if his state-by-state analysis turns out to be wrong. Those are hardly the words of a conspiracy theorist. There is one other – Paul Rahe – who has also gone out on a limb but his arguments are solid rather than hysterical, and he has also made it clear that he understands the risk he is taking in making such a claim in the face of obvious things like polls.

    If one actually looks at the PJMedia website you would find that the main analyst of actual states and votes – Stephen Green – has laid out seven scenarios, including two ways Obama can win. Again, hardly the work of a conspiracy theorist.

    But of course if one is out to deligitimise one’s opposition then applying the broad-brush of conspiracy theorists is the way to go.

    Second:

    If they acknowledged that half of Americans still back Obama, then right-wingers would have to recognise that their own political programme, with its emphasis on moral conservatism and economic liberalism, is increasingly unpopular.

    Which rather begs the question – what about the other half of the country?

    And of course in both factors – conspiracy theory and “the GOP is doomed” – I see no mention of Democrats reaction to the 2000 election, which was damned near off-the-charts insane, nor the 2010 mid-term election that saw these fabulous Democrats given the biggest electoral kicking that a party holding the House had received in decades.

    And naturally I see What’s the Matter With Kansas mentioned, along with the claim that this was an example of Democrats pondering the nature of the American electorate. The only problem with this argument is that it’s conclusion that the GOP had won on culture-war issues, was apparently not followed by the Democrats in later elections, especially 2008 and 2012, where things like abortion and gay marriage have been pushed hard. Not a lot of evidence of “learning” there: more that they have decided to push ahead and damn the torpedoes.

    Those comments, along with these …

    The Republican right, by contrast, has become convinced that its ideas are identical with those of mainstream America, and that its political opponents are inherently anti-American.

    For perhaps the first time since the Civil War, a large minority of Americans will consider their President an illegitimate usurper.

    … indicate to me either a severe lack of irony or what has come to be called epistimic closure, not to mention an apparent ignorance of recent history where the left very much claimed that Bush was an “illegitimate usurper.”

    I recall that you have either claimed or implied that you are an intellectual. I’d go easy on that if I were you.

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  51. tom hunter (4,732 comments) says:

    Grrr on time edit …

    It’s “epistemic closure”

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  52. Scott Hamilton (298 comments) says:

    Fair point about many Democrats not accepting the 2000 result and thus seeing Bush as a usurper Tom. But if Obama ekes out a narrow but clear win the analogy will be 2004. Only a tiny number of Democrats accused Bush of stealing that election; I suspect that large numbers of Republicans will talk about a stolen election if Obama comes through this time.

    I think the right and the left can both fall for conspiracy theories and other forms of irrationalism, but that in this case the Republicans would be more prone to conspiracy theories to explain an election defeat, because they’ve developed a tendency of equating their politics with mainstream America and considering Obama as the representative of an alien culture and ideology. It’s hard, then, for them to imagine that Obama might get the thumbs up from middle America. Some nefarious force must be at work.

    The left has a long history of distinguishing between the consciousness of the people it wants to win to its banner and the alleged objective interests of those people. Frankel’s book is just a recent example of an attempt to take the concept of false consciousness and use it to explain a defeat. The right of course loves to pan the left, and especially the hard left, for claiming to represent the workers but often being at odds with what real live workers think and want. But the concept of false consciousness does come in handy for the left when it comes to analysing defeats. I don’t see the Republicans getting to grips with the reasons for Obama’s success in 2008 in the same way the likes of Frankel tried to get to grips with Bush’s win in 2004. Generally cliches about media brainwashing and conspiracy theories about dark forces in the shadows have been used to explain Obama’s success.

    Let’s see how PJ Media and similar sites deals with an Obama victory. I suspect there’ll be plenty of conspiracy theories making the rounds there. To be fair, there are moderate Republicans dealing sensibly with the prospect of an Obama win:
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/11/06/obama-will-probably-win-reasons-for-republicans-to-be-cheerful.html

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  53. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Could ‘false consciousness’ be the very epitome of epistemic closure, perhaps?

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  54. Grendel (996 comments) says:

    and if romney wins, democrats/the left in the states (and here) will simply golf clap and say “well done that man?”

    no, it will be the same either way.

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  55. scrubone (3,095 comments) says:

    but anyone on either side who is predicting a really decisive victory would have to explain how so many pollsters got it wrong.

    I’m sitting here wondering how you can
    a) know that some are predicting a landslide for Romney and
    b) have mised why they’re saying it.

    They’re saying it because the polls are showing Romney winning the independents in an election where the Republicans are motivated and the Democrats are not (’04 was the last one with identical motivation and turnout was 50/50), but the polls oversample Dems until they get Obama for a win.

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  56. scrubone (3,095 comments) says:

    I think the right and the left can both fall for conspiracy theories and other forms of irrationalism, but that in this case the Republicans would be more prone to conspiracy theories to explain an election defeat

    Actually I’d say that’s the complete other way around. You don’t remember the Dem slogan “we won or you cheated” from 2006?

    And today, with the polls “consistently” showing an Obama “victory” who, in a party that’s always talking about “big money” conspiricies are going to accept the result? OTOH you probably think ascribing an Obama defeat to “racism” isn’t a conspiracy theory.

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  57. scrubone (3,095 comments) says:

    Oh, and then there’s the consolation prize of an Obama victory – impeaching the bastard.

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