Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why They Got it Wrong.

Clinton? Not Obama?

Chris Mattews' Harball intro and analysis read like the Superbowl previews:

So what can we expect to see tonight? Let‘s go to the numbers. Let‘s start with the Democrats. The latest Suffolk University poll has Obama leading by 5 points in New Hampshire. He‘s up 9 points in the American Research Group poll, and the Reuters/Zogby poll has him up 13 points. That‘s Obama in the lead. The Real Clear Politics Web site, which averages the numbers together, has Obama at 38 percent, Clinton down at 30 percent, an 8-point spread, Edwards a distant third at 18 percent, Bill Richardson all the way down at 6 percent.

On the Republican side, the Suffolk poll has Mitt Romney leading by 4 points in New Hampshire tonight, but other new polls show John McCain with the lead. He‘s up by 7 points in the American Research Group poll, up by 9 points in the Reuters/Zogby poll. The Real Clear Politics average on the Republican side has John McCain leading by 4 points at 32 percent to Romney‘s expected 28 percent. Huckabee‘s down at 12 percent. Giuliani and Ron Paul are in single digits.

We go first to NBC‘s Lee Cowan, who‘s covering the Barack Obama campaign. You‘re at the headquarters. What can you report, Lee?

LEE COWAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, you know, this campaign had promised all along that it was going to get a big turnout, especially among the young voters, just like they did in Iowa. And we do know that turnout has been so big in some places that they actually ran out of ballots and they had to call the secretary of state to bring in more ballots to some of those places. So it seems as though the turnout is certainly in their favor.

This campaign never particularly looked at the poll numbers of late, though. They say they focused a lot more on the size and the enthusiasm of the crowds that they‘ve drawn over the last couple of days. What we‘ve seen here is crowds that are anywhere between twice to a third bigger than what we saw in the last couple of days leading up to the Iowa caucuses. Almost every place had an overflow room. We‘re talking thousands of people in these rallies, not necessarily hundreds of people. And that‘s what made the campaign feel relatively confident. Again, the senator himself says, Look, we haven‘t won anything yet. He‘s being cautious, but he says they feel pretty good.

MATTHEWS: You know, Lee, it used to be said of Barack Obama—and you can fill us in on this—that he would walk into a room to incredible applause, and then leave the audience a bit lower than he found it or entered it. Now, I mean, I was at one of those events this weekend. I can tell you that I saw, heard and felt the excitement of that room growing and growing and growing throughout his appearance. Is that the sense you get or can report on his appearances the last several days?

COWAN: Yes. I mean, I think it‘s fair to say that a while back, some of the speeches were perhaps a little academic. Perhaps he fell into that professorial mode that was talked about a lot. And you‘re right, he didn‘t sometimes end up on a crescendo.

They sound like they're gushing over a crush or something. But, that's not fair, because nowadays men are allowed to show their feelings (isn't that why they wear hankies in their left breast pockets of their suit jackets?), but Hillary Clinton cannot.

What happened?

Here's the answer: Nothing happened. We weren't listening to you.

America's citizens were talking amongst ourselves. We tuned you out.

I thought the titled click reference to the word journalism might shed some insight into why the media are so off base -- most of the time: because they try to ask questions and answer them at the same time, before they finish the question. They're so quick to state what they think they know, when it is their duty to let us in on the information for us to learn and judge for ourselves. Time and time again, the media give us a pie to eat and tell us how we like it, before we've taken a bite.

Well, without being violent, except in metaphor, they all deserve Boston Creme Pies for a facial -- or maybe they've wiped it off their faces already.

They were not journalists. They were entertainers, talking amongst themselves, telling us what no one can truly predict: The future. Instead of beaming proudly that an American could vote for a black candidate, they should have moved on to actually discuss the differences in the health plans between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And Edwards, for that matter. Instead, the media was frantically finding how many ways or how to count how much they loved the Super star. The uber President. The One and Only. They anointed Obama before everyone else got to vote, thinking that somehow the media represent us, the voters. The media represent themselves, and America reminded them. They don't do their jobs anymore and the definition of their profession has steadily declined. Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source - Share This jour·nal·ism [jur-nl-iz-uhm] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1.the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.
2.press1 (def. 31).
3.a course of study preparing students for careers in reporting, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines.
4.writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition, conceived of as exemplifying topical newspaper or popular magazine writing as distinguished from scholarly writing: He calls himself a historian, but his books are mere journalism. (My emphasis. Yep. That's about right)

Lawyers take Continuing Legal Education Classes. Doctors take Continuing Medical Education courses. Journalists? They just keep getting published and published -- and they still don't learn their lessons. In one of his humbler moments, Chris Matthews sought advice from a real journalist, Tom Brokaw, about how to do it right next time, in effect:

BROKAW: You know what I think we’re going to have to do?

MATTHEWS: Yes sir?

BROKAW: Wait for the voters to make their judgment.

MATTHEWS: Well what do we do then in the days before the ballot? We must stay home, I guess.

BROKAW: No, no we don’t stay home. There are reasons to analyze what they’re saying. We know from how the people voted today, what moved them to vote. You can take a look at that. There are a lot of issues that have not been fully explored during all this.

But we don’t have to get in the business of making judgments before the polls have closed. And trying to stampede in effect the process.

Look, I’m not just picking on us, it’s part of the culture in which we live these days. I think that the people out there are going to begin to make judgments about us if we don’t begin to temper that temptation to constantly try to get ahead of what the voters are deciding, in many cases, as we learned in New Hampshire when they went into the polling booth today or in the last three days. They were making decisions very late.

The above was copied from www.think

Tom Brokaw, I haven't watched you for decades -- please come back. I'll watch you every day for the rest of my life. Please. Come back.

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