Respondents haven't heard enough about Bill Clinton yet: On the front page of today's New York Times, we get the same old subjective campaign piddle, joined to a polling result.
This latest puddle of subjectivity concerns some recent campaign appearances by Bill Clinton. The news report by Patrick Healy appears on the front page of our hard-copy Times. It seems to have been pushed inside the paper in later editions, apparently due to late reporting on last night's array of gong-shows.
In his report, Healy offers subjective assessments of some recent speeches by Bill Clinton. The polling result is found in this passage:
HEALY (1/29/16): Still, as Mr. Clinton starts a campaign swing through Iowa leading up to Monday night’s caucuses, he remains very popular among likely Democratic caucusgoers, with 87 percent viewing him favorably in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll this month.Wow! Bill Clinton's favorability rating has dropped from 50 percent to 39 just since early November? It sounds like Candidate Trump's sex attacks really have taken a toll!
Nationally, however, Mr. Clinton’s favorability rating has fallen since he became more visibly active in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. Thirty-nine percent of Americans viewed him favorably in the mid-January poll, compared with 50 percent in a similar survey in early November.
Over that time, Mr. Trump has tried to make an issue out of Mr. Clinton’s sexual history and stir unease among some Americans about Mr. Clinton returning to the White House. The Clintons have mostly chosen not to respond to his attacks.
As always, everything's possible! That said, it looks like the Times is perhaps being a tiny bit scammy here, perhaps in several ways.
On the bright side, Healy's statements are factually accurate. In the Times' most recent poll, Bill Clinton is indeed credited with a "favorable" rating from just 39 percent of respondents.
(Click here, scroll down to question 30.)
Also true: Back in the November poll, he was listed with a "favorable" rating from a much higher 50 percent. In that poll, 34 percent said their opinion was "unfavorable."
Here's where the problem starts:
In the Times' most recent poll, only 29 percent of respondents gave Bill Clinton an "unfavorable" rating. He's scored at 39 percent favorable, 29 percent unfavorable—still a fairly good overall balance.
Bill Clinton still comes out ahead in the new Times poll! Somewhat strangely, though, only 68 percent of respondents stated a view at all.
Why did so few people express a view of Bill Clinton, one way or the other? Here's the place where our puzzlement starts:
For reasons at which we can only guess, 16 percent of respondents said they "haven't heard enough about Bill Clinton yet" to rate him one way or the other. They haven't heard enough about the guy to have any opinion at all!
(Another 12 percent are listed as "undecided." Two percent "refused to respond.")
That leaves Bill Clinton ten points to the good, at 39 percent favorable, 29 unfavorable. In November, it was 50-34, back before all those respondents decided they "haven't heard enough about him yet."
In typical fashion, Healy picked and chose among those numbers and sold you a doctored impression. We also chuckled at the way he said that Trump "has tried to make an issue out of Mr. Clinton’s sexual history."
In the broader sense, so has the New York Times! We refer to the recent Amy Chozick report which focused on the way Hillary Clinton "discredited women who said they had had sexual encounters with" Bill Clinton.
Within the past year, Chozick has established herself as the nation's slipperiest new major reporter. Her January 21 report was a striking case in point.
In this previous post, we focused on the remarkable way Chozick treated a 1991 claim by a Little Rock woman named Connie Hamzy. She disappeared all information about who Hamzy is, and about the reasons why her claim wasn't believed at the time.
Amy Chozick is very slippery. She put that emerging trait on display in that report.
There are other aspects of Chozick's report we still plan to examine, just to establish the factual record. That said, the factual record plays zero role in our devolving national discourse, and we still aren't ready to make ourselves revisit the grimy old facts which lie behind the themes and claims the Times was happy to revive in the wake of Candidate Trump's exciting sex attacks.
Hamzy was never an especially credible source. In her recent report, Chozick kept you from knowing that—from knowing why Hillary Clinton almost surely didn't believe the story Hamzy told in 1991.
The same is true of Gennifer Flowers and her error-riddled if wonderfully thrilling claims. We reviewed that material not long ago. You'll never read any such facts in the New York Times.
That leaves Kathleen Willey, another accuser whose name has started going around again. We told you we'd go back over those facts. Once again, we're going to leave that for another occasion.
That said, understand this:
To judge from appearances, there is nothing the New York Times won't do to sustain its decades-old vendetta. We have no idea why they play it this way, but play it this way they do.
For today, let's agree to draw some amusement from Healy's effort. Patrick Healy was happy to tell us that Bill Clinton's "favorables" have dropped. He let us think that this has happened because of Trump's sexy-time sex attacks.
He didn't tell us that Bill Clinton's "unfavorables" have also dropped. And he didn't share the main reason behind these statistical changes: In the Times' most recent poll, 16 percent of respondents said they "haven't heard enough about Bill Clinton yet" to regard him one way or the other!
Let's be fair! As with everything else, it's always possible that this improbable polling result could somehow be true.
Still and all, Healy selected the one statistic that let him convey the most negative impression. For reasons no one has ever explained, they've played it this way for a very long time, and they're never going to stop.