Supplemental: More unworkable work from Pew!


More true belief from Marcotte:
It’s painful to watch the way the liberal world now pretends to “reason.”

Consider what happened when Amanda Marcotte engaged in some true belief.

Yesterday, as we quit for the day, Marcotte seemed to have swallowed some rather unlikely statistics.

We were only four paragraphs into a recent piece at Salon. Already, though, Marcotte was serving us this:
MARCOTTE (10/24/14): That this polarization is going on isn’t a myth. Previous Pew research shows the percentage of Americans who are “mostly” or “consistently” conservative has grown from 18% in 2004 to 27% in 2014. During that same period, the percentage of Americans who are “mostly” or “consistently” liberal stayed a little more consistent, growing from 33% to 34% in 10 years. (These statistics don’t measure what you call yourself, but what you rate as on a scale of beliefs about various issues.) While liberals became more liberal, conservatives both became more numerous and more rigidly conservative over time. What gives?

Enter right-wing media, which has a nifty trick of convincing audiences it’s the other guys who are the liars, all while actually being much less trustworthy in reality. From conservative screaming about the “media elite” to Fox News’s old slogan “Fair and Balanced,” conservative media is rife with the message that everyone is out to get you, conservative viewer, and only in the warm blanket of right-wing propaganda will you be safe.
People loved this at Salon. Marcotte was saying The Other Tribe contains the vile propagandists.

Still, there were those peculiar statistics from Pew. Do they seem to make sense?

Tell the truth! Is it your impression that 34 percent of the American people are mostly or consistently liberal? Is it your impression that there are substantially more liberals than conservatives out there at the present time?

Is it your impression that conservatism was on the rocks in 2004—that there were almost twice as many liberals as conservatives in the year when we re-elected Bush?

Those numbers seemed a bit unlikely to us—and we happen to know how bad Pew’s work often is. So we decided to check Marcotte’s work.

This is what we found:

First, Marcotte was possibly conning her readers a bit with her selection of that 2004 starting-point. In fact, Pew has been tabulating the number of liberals and conservatives at intervals since 1994.

These are the numbers they’ve deathlessly found. Click here, scroll down a tad:
Percentages of liberals and conservatives (Pew)
1994: Liberals 21 percent/conservatives 30 percent
1999: Liberals 31 percent/conservatives 20 percent
2004: Liberals 33 percent/conservatives 18 percent
2011: Liberals 31 percent/conservatives 26 percent
2014: Liberals 34 percent/conservatives 27 percent
Those numbers have jumped around a fair bit, especially after 1994, when conservatives were said to be ascendant. But according to Pew, we seem to be living in a plurality-liberal land.

On their face, do those numbers make sense? Do you believe that 30 percent of Americans were conservative in 1994, with the number dropping to 18 percent as of 2004?

That didn’t seem to make sense to us either—until we looked at the way Pew has gathered its numbers.

Gack! In all these surveys, Pew has questioned respondents about the same ten topics. In each case, respondents have been asked to choose between two statements.

One statement represents the “liberal” position; the other statement is “conservative.” These are the choices respondents have always been given for Question 1:
Choices offered for Question 1:
Government is almost always wasteful and inefficient.
Government often does a better job than people give it credit for.
In this case, the second choice is the “liberal” position. The first choice is “conservative.” To review the choices for all ten topics, click here.

In the beginning, this may have seemed like a good way to run a survey like this. But as it turned out, several of Pew’s questions may have been poorly chosen.

Why were there so many fewer conservatives as of 2004? Just a guess: In large part, it seems that respondents answered some of these questions based on their view of the sitting president, rather than based on matters of principal.

Consider Question 1, about wasteful government, with the two choices shown above. In 1994, 74 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners chose the (rather over the top) first position.

(Click here, scroll down to Growing Gaps between Republicans and Democrats.)

People, Bill Clinton was president! In 2004, with Bush in charge, that number had dropped to 46 percent among Republicans and Republican-leaners.

Pew interprets that to mean that we had fewer conservatives in 2004. We’d offer a different, fairly obvious interpretation—it simply means that Republicans thought the government was more frugal under Bush.

In 2014, with Obama in charge, that number was back at 75 percent. In short, that question doesn’t seem to be measuring conservative values. In many cases, it seems to be measuring what respondents think of the sitting president.

Routinely, Pew does bad analytical work. Routinely, true believers use Pew’s data—when their data advance true belief. It seems to us that that’s what was happening here.

Amanda Marcotte is full of fire. That said, she’s often a horrible analyst, assuming she’s actually trying.

This was the latest sorry example. The progressive world will never succeed with people like this in charge.


  1. Day Two of what Amanda Marcotte wrote on Alternet at some undisclosed point in time that was published in Salon two weeks ago.

    A breathless nation awaits!

    1. I have never understood how liberal blogs like Alternet get the money to pay trolls like you to defend people like Marcotte.

      Since I don't understand it makes me wonder to what extent people the many trolls who accuse Bob of itching just tear down his efforts to stop the plutocrats from suppressing us with their iron rules of thumb.

    2. I don't understand why you think anybody needs to pay anybody else to knock holes in Somerby's arguments.

      It's like paying a duck to quack.

    3. So can you actually knock holes in TDH's argument?

      Or were you just quacking?

  2. "The progressive world will never succeed with people like this [Amanda Marcotte] in charge."

    Good thing she isn't then.

    1. Doggone that First Amendment anyway!

    2. Please enlighten me: what does the 1st Amendment have to do with this?

    3. Because all sorts of crackpots can write anything they damned please on this electrical Internet thing-a-ma-jig. Even women!

    4. Not like the good ol' days when Uncle Walter and Uncle David did a damned fine job of controlling all this nonsense. Especially from women!

    5. By all that is holy, we give these females the vote, and the next thing you know, they take charge of everything!

      Hell, we even got one of them muckety-muck women at some college back east telling me I can't even pat a girl on the fanny any more without them making a federal case out of it!

      Just shows how much they care about legitimate rape. Nothing!

    6. And what's all this nonsense about equal pay? Never met a woman worth half of any man on the job. Except maybe for Fred who'd show up drunk half the time and pass out in the warehouse. But when he was sober, by golly, he could put in a man's day!

      These females should take the 77 cents we give 'em and be glad for it! They should try driving the bread truck I drove for 40 years instead of sitting in some cushy air-conditioned office. Wouldn't last a day.

    7. And don't get me started on birth control! Good Gawd Almighty, they want to take a pill then go sleep around with every damned man in town. Like the day I came home early and found my Lucille in bed with Fred, passed out drunk.

      She said rape, but I know she led him on. Fred would never do anything like that to me.

    8. This is identity politics run amok. Somerby finds fault with a female reporter's work, and in response in a few short paragraphs assumes a dialect and becomes a sworn enemy.

    9. Don't you talk identity politics to me, you young whippersnapper. My pappy was a Democrat, my grandpappy was a Democrat, and I'm a Democrat who voted Democrat my whole life except for Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Reagan, Bush, Bush, Dole, Bush, Bush, McCain and Romney.

      Those are the guys who really care about the working man instead of some guy who ain't even white who would give my bread truck job to some Mexican.

    10. Damn snooty pseudo Democrats don't even eat bread delivered by trucks. Heck, they don't even eat bread wrapped in plastic.

    11. Bet their bread ain't even white neither!

  3. Amanda Marcotte was briefly Blogger in Chief for the John Edward's for President Campaign. I think I remember Somerby saying somewhere he like Edwards the best back in 2008.

    I can't remember whether Somerby covered the painful demise of her career with Senator Edwards at the hands of those dastardly mid-century East Coast Irish Catholics (MCECIC).

    Edwards, of course, was taken down by the mainstream press after video of him preening over his hairdo went viral on the internet. Which Al Gore took the initiative in creating during his service in Congress.

  4. Poor, poor Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes.

  5. Gack! Somerby is right, people. Bill Clinton was

    If Bill Clinton had not been President, then there would have been no impeachment, the failure of which caused Serbian nationalists in the powderkeg of Europe to start the War on Gore.

  6. "People, Bill Clinton was president! In 2004, with Bush in charge, that number had dropped to 46 percent among Republicans and Republican-leaners."

    Ah, Bob! So you do agree with Marcotte that "Republicans and Republican leaners" have a tendency to believe the propaganda they are fed!

    Thank you!

    1. And for the full story:

      "Government is almost always wasteful and inefficient"



      1994 -- 74

      2004 -- 46

      2014 -- 76


      1994: 59

      2004: 48

      2014: 40

    2. Bob doesn't read, much less respond to, vile trolls.

      So I will point out that he addressed your point yesterday.

      "We were struck by a peculiar fact. Without any question, “conservative media” is rife with bogus messages. True believers will truly believe whatever serves their interest. In this matter, Marcotte seemed to be truly believing some rather peculiar statistics."

    3. Well, just giving you the fuller context of the cherry-picked number that Bob further cherry-picked.

      Seems to me that the Republican perception of wasteful government depends entirely on which party holds the White House.

      On the other hand, the Democratic perception seems to be on a downward plane regardless of which party is in the White House.

      Bob can attack that statistic all he wants. Instead he uses it to say, and I paraphrase, "Of course the Republicans responded differently in 1994 and 2004.. Look who was in the White House!" which pretty much supports Marcotte's thesis, doesn't it? Especially when you consider that Democratic agreement with "wasteful spending" also went down between 1994 and 2004.

    4. which pretty much supports Marcotte's thesis, doesn't it?

      Er, no. Her thesis is that we're polarized along ideological lines and she uses a survey that purports to show something about the percentages of conservatives and liberals. But that seems somewhat of a stretch

    5. BZZZZZZ! Wrong answer! We'll let Marcotte state her thesis herself:

      ". . . Or that’s the charitable way to put it. The less charitable way is to say Pew discovered that conservatives are consuming a right-wing media full of lies and misinformation, whereas liberals are more interested in media that puts facts before ideology. It’s very much not a “both sides do it” situation. Conservatives are becoming more conservative because of propaganda, whereas liberals are becoming more liberal while staying very much checked into reality."

      Bob did a faceplant when he tried to cherry-pick part of one answer to one question. Now go read the rest of the survey.

    6. BZZZZZZ

      What is it about trolls that attracts flies?

      Read the rest of the survey? No, thinks. I'll just let Marcotte's thesis stand as you posted it. Are "conservatives" becoming more "conservative" and "liberals" more "liberal"? Sure, if you want to rely on her interpretation of the Pew poll, which has "liberals" outnumbering "conservatives."

    7. Well, if you're not going to read the survey, then you have no idea how they came up with their percentages of "liberals" and "conservatives."

      But you're going to shoot your mouth off anyway.

    8. The way this works is (1) you send someone off to read the survey, (2) they so and post a diligent response, (3) you disappear until the next time you insist that people read some lengthy source before commenting. It's a game.

  7. "Pew interprets that to mean that we had fewer conservatives in 2004. We’d offer a different, fairly obvious interpretation—it simply means that Republicans thought the government was more frugal under Bush."

    But was it? By 2004, Bush had already spun record surpluses into record deficits, while keeping the costs of the invasion of Iraq off the books.

    That aside, Pew makes no such interpretation based on the single question that Somerby selects.

    Pew asked respondents to self-identify only by party identity, even going to the extent of asking "leaning" to those who offered no strong party affiliation.

    Then, Pew placed respondents on the conservative-liberal spectrum -- which includes "mixed" in the middle based on their answers to their broad assortment of issue questions.

    Bob can pretend that Pew concluded that there were fewer "conservatives" based solely on their answer to the wasteful government question, but that wouldn't be honest, would it?

    1. but that wouldn't be honest, would it?

      I don't know. Is trollery "honest"?

      Any survey that claims to measure people along an ideological axis and doesn't take party bias into account is suspect.


    2. I don't know. Is trolling about trollery honest?

      And, surprise, surprise! The poll does take "party bias" into account. That would have been something only those who read the survey would know before they jumped to conclusions.

      But then again, deadrat, when has the truth ever outweighed Bob's word!

    3. I should have said the reporting about poll, not the poll itself. The conclusions reported about the percentages of "liberals" and "conservatives" is absurd.

    4. No problem. We already know you're not as clever as you think you are, and often wind up with your foot in your mouth when you pretend to know more than you do..

    5. Somerby states there are several, not a single question as suggested, that are poorly chosen. He links to the Study in question. One might disagree with his opinion but he's not the one being dishonest.

    6. No problem? We?

      Who's "we," Sparky? Are you the Queen of Romania or just KZ's alternate personality?

      Nobody, including me, is as clever as I think I am, and I'm not pretending to know more than I do. I really do know more than I do.

      Please forgive me if I don't take the opinion of anonymous trolls seriously. Or don't.

    7. A response for deadrat and then one for Anon. @ 11:39.

      Use of the royal we started with Somerby, Queen of Pissedoffistan. However, since you seem to be joining the ranks of the paranoid, suspecting us of all manner of commentary we haven't made, your best guess is to place Anon. @ 6:18 in Romania rather than in our head.

      You wrote @ 11:39: "Somerby states there are several, not a single question as suggested, that are poorly chosen."

      In fact the person you responded to "states something." He did not make a suggestion.
      We admired the fact that he stole BOB's favorite technique and accused BOB of pretending.

      Somerby stated nothing. He is the one suggesting.
      BOB wrote: "several of Pew’s questions may have been poorly chosen." Taken as written BOB offers
      a possibility, not states a fact.

      If you want a "statment" about a survey from BOB, look at the one from MIT, about which he stated "So the commissars imposed their own definitions, which were never quite explained." That is a statement. Definitions without explanations are always the work of commissars.

    8. Which might give one pause to contemplate the difference between defining your terms and explaining them.

    9. TDH uses the editorial we, not the royal.

      I don't even want to think about what's in your head. Perhaps you could cast a spell to make the blog better

    10. It is hard enough to bring back errant husbands dr.

    11. Here is one of those pause inducing definitions from the Commissars at MIT which were "never quite explained" according to the OTB.

      "Someone TRIED to sexually penetrate me (hover text: someone tried to put a penis or insert fingers or objects into my vagina or anus) even though I didn’t want to."

      Those sorry commies (er Commissars) didn't even bother to explain that penis means "pee-pee" and "anus" means "butt hole." No wonder those teenagers at MIT were confused and answered yes when earlier they clearly said no. This was survey "rape."

    12. But since they didn't tell us except they did when this survey was taken, how could innocent MIT freshmen have possibly attained the education to understand such Norwegian words as "penetrate" "penis" "fingers" "objects" "vagina" and "anus"?

      Surely, this exposes this survey as yet another liberal attempt to gin up the statistics in order to distract attention from the real victims of real rape, of whom they care not at all!

    13. Commissar is used in its meaning of an administrator who enforces party discipline, not the meaning related to an official of the politico-economic system of communism. Again, your excessively literal thinking trips you up. Somerby is accusing them of enforcing group-think, not of being Russkies.

    14. The Bobworld Commissar of Defense has spoken.

      It is an offense in Bobwold to be accused of the comment crime of excessive literal thinking.

      Evidence of such thought crime comes from watching Maoist TV, defined by Bob Somerby on 29 July 2013 as: "Increasingly, it looks like the M in MSNBC is starting to stand for Maoist."

      Or it could be found in clicks to the website Salon, which is filled with Salonistas and worse. Like Katie McDonough: "McDonough is one of her journal’s new Stalinistas....Stalinism of this emerging type rarely helps the world."

      As Senator Somerby said when closing his warning of this threat: "We're sure Thought Criminals are is a good person. But good God! Let’s put excessive literalism away!"

    15. Excessive literal thinking is a symptom of brain injury or mental illness. Comments derived from it are a waste of everyone's time.

    16. I am not sure about that, but I would suggest excessive defense of Somerby when he is quoted literally is a sign of foolish infatuation with someone equally foolish.

    17. Somerby needs no defense. I'm objecting to your statements because they are annoying.

    18. "Somerby needs no defense" is the literal thinkers way of expressing complete adoration of He who is perfect.

  8. Republicans, i.e. conservatives are congenital thieves and liars.
    According to our guy Bob, Democrats (i.e.liberals) should bend over and let the republicans drive.
    For 6 years they (republicans) and their cohorts have denigrated and slimed Obama.
    Not to worry, be nice to them; they will be nice to you.

    After all it worked for Gore.


    1. Somerby only half says it, but it's really "punch up, not down". The way to win is to get liberals to vote, not to reason with conservatives. But you can get liberals to vote by strongly attacking the powerful. Attacking the rank-and-file conservative rubes might also work, but it's damaging and not necessary.

    2. For lots of liberals, to "punch up" would be to punch themselves. We often wonder to what extent liberals understand this fact. Many regular people understand it intuitively, thus the effectiveness of the term "limousine liberal."

  9. American, UK or whatever electorate is current, is stupid and ignorant so polls or surveys lead the list of stupid. They are herded with cow-eyes eager for the slaughter pit. If you put any trust in their judgement or decisions you might as well shit out your grey matter and wait for a replacement. These discussions are irrelevant.

  10. Has it always been so? What might we need to recapture?

  11. I think Bob is on soundest ground when tackling lightweights.

  12. "Tell the truth! Is it your impression that 34 percent of the American people are mostly or consistently liberal? Is it your impression that there are substantially more liberals than conservatives out there at the present time?"

    Um , yeah, maybe so. Tuesday, voters in several states, including very Republican ones, supported minimum wage increases 70% to 30%. 80% of voters object to reducing Social Security benefits. When the "public option" was explained to voters as, well an option, support was around 80%. That the public even as it describes itself as conservative routinely supports liberal policies has been noted many times. The Howler and his sycophants here seem unable to distinguish between a self-description based on conditioned reflexes and the specifics of what people want.

    1. If one is interested in campaign strategy and analysis, Ian Masters Background Briefing was particularly strong and informative 11/5 and 11/6.

  13. First, to admit a point: we had not imagined there could be a time series showing just how variable the data on "polarization" was. Bob deserves credit for finding it, and Pew deserves ... well, they deserve something for using that shit the way they do, because while the data could be valuable for certain things, what Pew actually uses them for is questionable, to say the least. And now, for the main point, where Bob deserves a rather hard spanking.

    Marcotte's point was that the right consumes more propaganda than does the left. And to support that point, she uses TWO pieces of research from Pew. The second -- and by far the lesser -- piece is on polarization, and we think it fair to say Bob does a good job of discrediting that piece, while why Marcotte used it at all is a mystery (we thought it odd to find it there the first time we read her piece, before Bob debunked it). But the first -- the major -- piece? Bob entirely ignores it, despite the fact that Marcotte linked to it first in her post, and that it talks DIRECTLY to the issue at hand: how much each side consumes what can fairly be called propaganda. Here, once again, is the link:

    Look at that graphic, there on the right. That giant-ass circle with the 47% in the middle of it? That's right, 47% -- basically half -- of "consistent conservatives" consume Fox news. That's right, 47%. What figure on the left consumes MSNBC? 12%. In what we suspect is an attempt to make the graphics seem somehow balanced, Pew throws in some circles for the NYT, NPR, and CNN, those well-known outlets for commie propaganda. We don't even need to go into the "MSNBC isn't as bad as Fox" shit, because it's irrelevant: the average "hard right" person is FOUR times as likely to watch Fox, which is 90% pure propaganda, than the hard left person is to watch MSNBC. On the actual principles of the issue at hand, who is right and who is wrong? Bob gets points for scoring a neat little debating point, but he is debating, as usual, for the wrong side. And since he had to see the link Marcotte provided, we can only assume he deliberately chose to ignore it, and the graphic contained in it, because it didn't fit with what he was trying to do -- attack, yet again, the left, for being just like the right.

    The next time one of Bob's fans is inclined to claim Bob stands for reason and fairmindedness, look at that graph again, and think of those numbers: 47%. 12%. And realize that Bob is basically saying 12% = 47%. Because every time Bob starts screaming about how the left "is becoming" just like the right (something he's been saying for years now, how fucking long does this "becoming" take?), that 35 point gap, among other things, is what he's "becoming" away, what he's pretending isn't there (or perhaps, hoping you don't notice).

    1. He stands for critical thinking.

    2. Try it some time to what Somerby writes.

    3. Bob may be nit picking, but his point is not whether Marcotte is right or wrong, but whether Marcotte is sloppy in the use of facts and data. You seem to agree that she is (in the use of the Pew) survey, and then you proceed to point out that ultimately she was correct anyway. Fine. But Bob's point is made and the rest is just opinion. I don't read this stuff just to get Bob's opinion.

  14. As far as self-identification, far fewer people are willing to identify as liberal, as opposed to conservative or moderate. Given their general liberal attitudes why would so many refuse to identify with those whom they perceive as liberal?.

    1. I just wish people would take all elections as seriously as they take presidential elections, and that includes municipal elections when we elect the people who govern closest to home.

      In fact, I wish people would take all elections more seriously than they take even presidential elections, and our turnout reaches as close to 100 percent as humanly possible.

      Democracy works best with more participation, not less.

    2. Voting is apparently too much work for most citizens, leaving the ruling of America to the liberal and conservative hot-heads. Unfortunately, the Republicans have discovered that suppressing the vote is good for them and have been working diligently to remove as many incentives to vote as possible. I agree that democracy works best when more people participate, which is a good reason to vote and *not* to vote Republican.

  15. I eagerly await next week, when Bob might get around to the mid-terms.

    Surely in all their coverage on election night and after, somebody on MSNBC said something completely dumb that Bob will spend a week on, proving that all "liberals" think like that with leaders like that in charge.

  16. Labels don't man shit. They are instruments of lazy thinkers who must codify and place in the cubby-hole of compulsive behavior. Many conservatives have gone underground with 'Indy' or the false-flag of libertarianism. (Yes there are genuine libertarians) A simple test for conservative auspices is whether people should come before property, or if they support the status quo to the detriment of social and cultrual progress. Anything else is just window dressing

    1. Conservatives dress windows. Liberals dress bumpers.

    2. Conservatives will let people starve to help them learn to be more self-sufficient, and besides, why should conservatives have to pay for someone else's children. Just let them die and reduce the surplus population.


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  18. Is this a fair, brood strokes review of Bob's assessment of the history of the modern, American political press?

    1950-1992: Pretty good! Walter and David made sure we got the straight poop.

    1992-2000: What happened? suddenly they have become mercenary liars and kooks, all over Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

    2000-2008: Still pretty bad, but these lib meanies are bringing a lot of it themselves. Poor Scooter Libby!

    2008-2014: Boy these smarty pants liberals are really causing most of the damage now. Poor Mitt Romney!

    Coverage of Defense Spending? Well, lets not go crazy, but wouldn't you think the Media might be interested in reporting on how Obamacare is working?

    Whatever. It's pretty clear to get back an actually worthwhile Daily Howler, Hilary is going to have to pick a veep Somerby went to College with.

    1. Or maybe somebody in their fifties BOB taught in elementary school.

    2. Oops. Forgot to sign at 10:08. We blame the early hour, the time change, and travellers asking about our reading habits over bagels.

    3. Greg, If you read Matt Bai's new book about Gary Hart, you will see what Somerby thinks happened over the time span. Journalism had different ethics and standards before 1987 than it has had since. Bai (and Somerby) see that time period as a turning point because it is when politicians started being treated as celebrities and journalism became about discovering and printing personal information as evidence of "character" which was being defined in personal terms, not in terms of political or professional behavior on the job. Bai takes this change back to the 60's and especially the attention the Watergate journalists got for supposedly forcing Nixon out of office by revealing his corruption, which was attributed to his bad character. Those who studied journalism in the 70's and entered the field had a different attitude about what journalism should be than those trained before Watergate.

      Bai describes how Bill Clinton managed to survive the kinds of attacks that pulled Hart under (for much less serious misbehavior). Today's politicians are dealing with the new press ethics by (1) revealing their indiscretions before the press can find them out, and (2) saying nothing specific about policy or personal life that might be attacked on the basis of what it reveals about "character," and (3) creating an appealing narrative that journalists can chase and print as a substitute for scandal narratives, to keep a hungry press busy and preoccupied with entertaining stories and prevent them from making up stuff that would be out of the control of the campaign.

      To some extent, Bai blames the proliferation of cable and other media for (1) a focus on entertainment over political substance, (2) access to audiences for fringe reports that previously were relegated to low-readership outlets or places like The National Enquirer (every rumor reaches everyone now), (3) pressure on mainstream press to print everything because they know the other sources will come out with it, so everything reaches everyone through the more trusted sources now, no matter how fringey or unsourced.

      Somerby thinks this is bad. He is addressing it by trying to make explicit and bring to people's conscious awareness what is happening in news media. You cannot stop these trends -- that was one of Bai's complaints, that a triviality becomes a juggernaut -- but you can teach people how to understand them. Arming people with insight is one way to create a more sophisticated electorate.

      Bai says that good people are being kept from running or being kept out of office by things that formerly were not disqualifiers and shouldn't be now (although he makes some exceptions). I agree. Bai blames the media for Palin and for the many tea party lightweights. I agree but I also blame the voters.

      You and the many trolls here think this is all just fun and games. Hart said the voters get the candidates they deserve. I would leave you all to the candidates you deserve but I would have to suffer them too. We can all go down the river playing troll games while our planet burns. It is up to you guys.

    4. Greg, if you read Matt Bai's book, you'll find that having a extramarital affair, lying about it, dropping out of the race then dropping back in while continuing to lie about it, then getting waxed in the early primaries was all the press' fault.

      And how sad that decent people who have affairs and lie about it are driven from running for office.

    5. Anonymous @ 1:06 says:

      "Arming people with insight is one way to create a more sophisticated electorate."

      Bob Somerby says:

      Gack! A depressing look at us the people! The miracle lies in the fact that our nation ever made it this hopelessly dumb we the people are.

    6. All people lie. Period, end of story. That has been shown repeatedly in empirical studies. ALL PEOPLE LIE. They especially lie about things that are private -- nobody's business. As Hart said, we are not defined by the worst things we've ever done. A politician's worth in office is especially not defined by what he does in the bedroom.

      When Hart "dropped back in" he did not continue to lie about it. He admitted to having extramarital affairs. He did not admit to sleeping with Rice but it is entirely possible he never slept with her, as both he and Rice continue to state to this day. It was the fault of the press he was "waxed" in the primaries, but also Hart's fault because he did not campaign in any sense of the word.

      It is very sad when talented people are driven from running for office or holding office because the press thinks it deserves to know who is having sex with whom. There is no such thing as privacy any more. Note that both Rice and Hart were consenting adults. Note that Hart and his wife were not a couple, not that it was anyone's business except their own.

      Note that moralizing is especially strong when applied to the candidates you don't like and that it is chiefly about sex and not about other aspects of character that matter a great deal more.

    7. @2:36

      Grabbing quotes out of context and juxtaposing them is not a way to refute a statement. That Somerby thinks we the people are behaving stupidly says nothing whatsoever about the need to wake people up to what the media has become.

      This is KZ's favorite technique but apparently he has "forgotten" to label his comment again. I can understand why he doesn't want anyone to think he spends his whole life here, posting 90% of the comments. But, he is LYING. What a horrible lack of character that shows!!!!!

    8. So if one person is writing 90 percent of the comments, what does that say about this blog?

    9. It needs moderation so that other people can get a word in edgewise.

    10. I have Bia book out of the library, I am not impressed with the introduction but I will keep and open mind. Dennis Miller always serves as ground zero for pure stupidity, and well I remember him saying Hart had it coming because he invited the press to follow him. Later, of course, others who issued no such invitations were exposed and Dennis had no problem. Anyway, somebody on here said Clinton had a romantic relationship with Lewinsky over a period of months. Clinton spent about 15 hours with Lewinsky. He received prison sex from her 12 times and laughed her off when She tried to extort a six figure job out of him that She had no qualifications for. She went back once more and got a DNA sample, which, under counsel from Linda Tripp, She held onto and changed her life forever. Romance? Well, Astaire and Rodgers it ain't. I think my basic assessment of The Daily Howler is sadly true: he does not seem to be interested in the corporate presses performance, only in beating up on it's very few left leaning aspects.

    11. "It needs moderation so that other people can get a word in edgewise."

      Oh, for the glory days when Bob had no combox. Then nobody could get a word in at all, edgewise or any other way.

    12. "Is this a fair..."

      No, not even close. It's more tendentious tripe from a past master of the form, our Greg.

      Welcome back, you useless shit.

  19. "we happen to know how bad Pew’s work often is."

    Bob Somerby

    According to TDH's own internal search engine, Somerby has mentioned Pew Research three times since adopting the current blog format.

    Two times were in this series. Both critical of Marcotte.

    Once earlier this year when he seized on Pew results to point out how stupid the American public is.

    They seem to be bad when he disagrees with a liberal making use of their numbers. They seem to be fine when their numbers are useful to a main TDH theme.

    1. Somerby can know how bad Pew's work often is, without necessarily writing about it here.

      I think this is KZ forgetting to identify himself again. He's been doing that a lot lately. Trolls seem to think that if they post enough of these garbagey complaints, they will create an overall impression that there is something wrong with what Somerby writes. It doesn't work like that. 99% of the comments on almost every blog (except the moderated ones) and these kinds of nonsense and garbage. One liners from people who think they're clever, non sequiturs from people who don't think well, and jibes and the people writing anything at all, plus a bunch of 12 year olds who just like seeing their fake names in print.

    2. "They seem to be bad when he disagrees with a liberal making use of their numbers. They seem to be fine when their numbers are useful to a main TDH theme."

      Care to comment about that? You know, how Pew's work isn't always so horrible when its results serve Bob's narrative?

      Of course not. You't rather pretend there is only one big meanie out there who could possibly disagree with Almighty and Powerful Bob!

    3. @ 1:14 may be right. By the same token @ 1:14 may be either Matt Bai's publicist, Gary Hart, or Donna Rice.

      And what, @ 1:14 (aka @1:06) was more serious about Clinton's misbehavior than Hart's?

    4. Donna Rice was older than Lewinsky, not working for Hart in any capacity (or for any organization he headed), and there is no evidence anything actually happened between them beyond flirting, spending time (with friends) on a boat, and having dinner together over the course of two different weekends separated geographically and in time by several months. Clinton carried on an ongoing romantic relationship with Lewinsky over months. Unlike Hart who had been estranged from his wife and was living separately from her (she was in CO while he was in DC), Clinton was living with his wife, which makes his cheating worse than Hart's. Clinton was also accused of inappropriately groping several other women (although I think the evidence is pretty thin), whereas Hart was never accused of being crude -- just having various consensual affairs.

      Why couldn't @1:14 be right as well as being Matt Bai's publicist, Gary Hart or Donna Rice?

    5. You conveniently forget one small detail. Had Clinton been caught in an ongoing affair in 1991 and lied through his teeth about it, would he have won the Democratic nomination for president? That would have been up to the voters, correct?

      And the spoke loud and clear about Gary Hart. They didn't trust him to be president.

      Personally, I want to know everything I can about the character of a man or woman who would be president. And I don't want the "press" deciding for me what is or is not important.

      I can do that very well on my own, thank you.

    6. Clinton took a look at the political climate and what happened to Hart and sat down and addressed his past infidelities with the press before his presidential campaign. He did that explicitly because of what happened to Hart, who was one of the people he discussed this with.

      When the media makes a running joke out of a candidate, his credibility is undermined. As Bai points out, Hart was a running joke on Carson's Tonight Show, just as Clinton has been on Letterman and Conan and I assume Leno (don't watch him). What someone does in the bedroom is not an indicator of what he will do in office. That is obvious if you know even a tiny bit about history.

    7. Key phrase: "past infidelities."

      Hart wouldn't admit his affair with Rice until December, when he appeared with Koppel in a last-ditch attempt to save his campaign. And he only did that in a half-assed way.

    8. "What someone does in the bedroom is not an indicator of what he will do in office. That is obvious if you know even a tiny bit about history."

      You make your choice, I'll make mine. And I didn't care nearly as much about his bedroom activities, as much as I cared about the absolute gall and ego it took for him to continue lying about it, long after he was caught.

      That, not his bedroom activities, told me lots about his character, but it probably told you nothing.

      Fine. It's hard to hear with your head so far up Hart's ass.

    9. I wonder if Gary Hart could have won reelection in Colorado this midterm?

      You know, he was lucky Maureen Dowd had not been given her column back in '88.

    10. Others did a job on him that would have done her proud. Gary Hart rehabilitated his career and has been working for Kerry on international projects. That you still think of him as damaged goods shows the power of the media to destroy people who won't play their game.

    11. Good for him. But that doesn't mean he should be president. That's up for each voter to decide, based on the information we have about him.

      And I always lean toward having more information, rather than less. Then I can decide for myself what's important and what's not.

    12. "You make your choice, I'll make mine."

      Absolutely. Now how can I do this if the press decides for both you and me what we should not before we make our choices?

    13. dropped a word.

      How can we make our choices if the press decides for us what we should not know before we make our choices?

    14. I think that voters who are determined to learn the "character" of their candidates are being led astray. Either party can find a candidate who never did anything to offend your sensibilities and, using your "character" criteria to get him/her elected. Then (surprise! surprise!) you find that the people who bankrolled the candidate are suddenly in power and writing the laws, choosing the judges and running the country. You seem to have focused on the trivial (sex!) and forgotten to pay attention to the issues that really matter in government.

  20. We note with some dismay that while the site's host has been making some progress in moving beyond a fifteen year-old election, some of his commenters are moving in the opposite direction, and are now obsessing over a 27 year-old election. We do not see how one can shape the future when mired in the past. Assuming, of course, that one views politics as being about shaping the future, which is, it seems, a dubious assumption to make when dealing with modern "liberals."

    1. It does support a key Somerby theme that "we, the people" are so dumb that we need gatekeepers to prevent us from receiving information that causes us to think things over.

    2. None of the comments here by trolls cause anyone to think anything over.

    3. Then you shouldn't have to respond.

    4. The response is the only thing keeping KZ from having 95% of this space. More if you suspect, as I do, that either David in Cal or deadrat is KZ.

      Thank you for allowing me to get this in edgewisey in between the garbagey trollery.

    5. @6:27 The only way you can positively assert he was lying is to be Donna Rice. Are you a child, to be so upset over this? All your heroes lie, your parents lie, your best friend has lied to you about something. Grow up.

    6. So, when anti-gay "Family Values" Larry Craig got caught in a public restroom soliciting gay sex, no big deal. Private behavior. No big deal that his whole life was a lie. After all, your parents once told you about Santa Claus. Shouldn't have been reported at all.

    7. "The response is the only thing keeping KZ from having 95% of this space. More if you suspect, as I do, that either David in Cal or deadrat is KZ."

      So by your reckoning, when there are 100 comments, 90 are by ZK, five are by you, and five are by everyone else. Unless they are ZK, too.

    8. As someone who is neither deadrat, KZ or DinCA, let me say that there is no way that deadrat, KZ & DinCA are any fewer than three individuals. No fucking way in hell.

      The proposition that they might be two or even one individual could only be propounded by an outright moron.

  21. tdraicer:

    I think the evidence suggests that about 1/3rd of Americans lean Right, 1/2rd lean Left, and the remainder are not in some mythical midpoint between extremes, but all the over the map, liberal on some things and conservative on others.

    But since our current choices have largely been between a Right-wing party and a party that doesn't stand for much of anything, it is hard to know what voters would do if, say, they were offered a new New Deal, since no one is offering one.

  22. tdraicer:

    Sorry, that should have been "1/3rd Lean Left"