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July 20, 2010

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A nice example of a journalist creating an ad hoc narrative is the Chait's article about the Tea Parties.
Chait begins with a single fact -- a poll showing that Tea Party supporters are mostly conservative. From there he creates a narrative designed to prove that the Tea Parties are less significant than conservatives think they are.

Chait shows his ignorance by mocking the mention of hand-made signs. Such signs are indeed prevalent at Tea Party demonstrations.

Chait shows his antipathy by asserting that unspecified Tea Party supporters see the Tea Parties as angry ("the insistence upon viewing the Tea Parties as pure expressions of populist anger"). The angry Tea Parties is actually an image promoted by their opponents.

Many liberals have been fooled by fraudulent claims the Tea Parties are racist, angry and violent. For a striking example, see this link

IMHO the Gallup Poll would have shown quite different results if it had looked at Tea Party issues -- namely opposing the expansion and cost of government and the rise in taxes. E.g., this spring I collected signatures for a ballot proposition to reduce pensions to city government workers. The liberal Dems I spoke to supported it as much as the conservative Reps.

The Tea Party name doesn't have broad approval, but I predict that the Tea Party issues will dominate the November elections.

Not only is Media Matters quibbling, it's not even an accurate quibble. Media Matters complains that the NY Times wrongly reported that:
the drop in [Obama's] public approval ratings, which now, according to a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, hover just above 40 percent.
Media Matters doesn't question the figure of just above 40 percent, but point out that it represents the % of voters who have faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country.

Media Matters says the Times needs to make a correction because "Obama Job Approval" is at 50% in that poll. However, the Times didn't use the phrase "Obama Job Approval". They used the phrase "public approval ratings," which could represent either of the measures mentioned here.

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