When the New York Times spoke to the undecideds...

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2020

...along come the framework gods: The undecided will always be with us. 

Old Testament prophets first stated the principle—and they did so long ago. 

Every four years, news orgs flock to the undecideds at roughly this point in the White House campaign. Up to a point, it makes good sense that they would do so. 

Today, though, the New York Times adopts a classic "both sides did it" approach to its report about  the way the undecideds viewed Tuesday evening's debate.

It wasn't just Trump, it was Biden too! The familiar old framework was in control right from the start of the piece:

LERER AT AL (10/1/20): “Useless.” “Ridiculous.” “Horrible.”

Undecided voters approached the first presidential debate between President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. with some hope of hearing policies and plans that could help them make a decision they had been mulling for months.

Instead, they listened with a mix of disgust and dismay, appalled by the name-calling and lack of decorum of a debate that seemed to shatter any remaining belief that political norms might prevail in a national moment that is anything but normal.

“They seemed like little kids arguing. Or maybe old guys arguing in a diner somewhere. Maybe that’s where they belong—in some diner arguing, not on the national stage,” said Ellen Christenson, 69, of Stevens Point, Wis. “I am just so disappointed in the evening. I don’t have any more information than when I started watching.”

The undecideds were hoping to learn—and the two old guys screwed it up! This is very familiar old stuff.

From that opening passage, a reader might think that the undecideds saw the two men as equally guilty of ruining Tuesday's debate. On a journalistic basis, this is the classic old "they both did it" approach. 

It's a time-honored, ass-kissing framework. According to this standard framing, neither one of these dopes is as great as we voters deserve. 

But did that framework really make sense with respect to Tuesday's debate? For example, does that framework seem to make sense in this early passage?

LERER ET AL: A majority of Americans say they believe the nation’s politics are deeply dysfunctional, framing the election in starkly existential terms. Most say they think the contest will decide whether the United States will remain a prosperous democracy, a view that cuts across age, gender, race, region and ideology.

Tuesday night’s debate only exacerbated those fears. In the highest-profile moment of the highly charged campaign, the candidates presented insults and interruptions rather than plans to help a fearful and anxious country emerge from a period of national crisis.

Neither man detailed proposals for managing a pandemic still roiling the economy, education and daily life. Mr. Trump left voters with little indication of what he might do if re-elected beyond fiercely attack his opponents. And Mr. Biden, who often struggled to complete a sentence because of interruptions from his rival, didn’t dive into the specifics of his plans beyond promising a greater respect for scientists and public health experts.

Question! If Biden "often struggled to complete a sentence" due to Trump's interruptions, does it make sense to complain that he failed to "detail his proposals?" 

Biden could barely finish a sentence! That said, did Biden possibly interrupt just as much as Trump did? 

That's the world's most obvious question! Below, you see the New York Times' non-assessment assessment:

LERER ET AL: Mr. Trump interrupted 741 times, according to the online tracker Factbase feed, striking a combative position even with Chris Wallace, the moderator of the event. He attacked Mr. Biden’s son Hunter in deeply personal terms by raising his struggles with drug addiction.

Trump interrupted Biden (and Wallace) more than 700 times! So how many times did Biden interrupt?

Lerer and her fellow reporters make no attempt to say! Nor do they provide a link to the Factbase feed, or to any other possible source of data.

As everyone knows, there's little obvious point in interviewing a very small sample of voters. In this case, there's no way to know if these undecideds viewed the debate the way other undecideds did.

For that reason, this exercise is essentially pointless right from the start. It becomes even worse when journalists force a tired old framework onto what is little more than an exercise in killing time and taking up space.

In this case, most of the people to whom the Times spoke seem to have been complaining about the behavior of Candidate Trump.  

That doesn't necessarily tell you anything either. But things  got worse when the framework gods came along with a tired old mandate.

The framework gods said that both men did it. Quickly, the Times fell in line.


33 comments:

  1. "That said, did Biden possibly interrupt just as much as Trump did? "

    And why not, dear Bob?

    Incidentally, we've read that Rapist Joe started it. Apparently for the first few minutes there were no interruptions at all, and then Rapist Joe started interrupting The Commander.

    And if that's indeed the case, dear Bob, then you and your rapist candidate really have no grounds to complain: what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Okay?

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  2. If the New York Times is pulling out the bothsiderist bullshit when Trump was clearly in the wrong, that's a sure sign that the corporate-own mass media doesn't care if Trump remains president. It's a sure sign that they don't care because they are confident that the profits will continue to roll in no matter what. And why not, they've made tons of money under Trump, so why not stick with him?

    ReplyDelete
  3. A Fox News host Sandra Smith who interviewed Ronna Romney McDaniels said that Trump interrupted 145 times while Biden interrupted 65 times. Those numbers depend on the time period selected, but they don't sound anything like the 741 interruptions Somerby attributes to a more independent fact checker. But even using Fox's numbers, the interruptions were nowhere near equal.

    https://www.alternet.org/2020/10/women-didnt-like-that-fox-news-host-grills-gop-chairwoman-after-trump-interrupts-145-times-at-debate/

    Supposedly there were 15 undecideds who watched the debate with Luntz, and only 6 switched to a candidate, 2 to Trump and 4 to Biden. That means that these 6 are NOT like the other undecideds, who remained undecided.

    But what I don't understand is why Somerby thinks these undecideds are too few to interview whereas the handful of "Other" Trump supporters interviewed by the NY Times are capable of supplying information despite being fewer in number than these undecideds.

    Somerby is being kind of inconsistent, perhaps because he has no idea how sampling works in research.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only thing Somerby understands is defending Trump, since he is a hard core malevolent Trumptard

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    2. Those shouting interruptions may have been Trump's attempt to infect Biden with his Covid.

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  4. I haven't seen anyone say that both sides did it, except for Trump spokesmen, campaign staff and surrogates.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. If the press isn't behind you, you will be criticized no matter what you do, right or wrong.

    When Hillary got her points across during her debates, she was blamed for being too cerebral. Biden has been spared that criticism by Trump's interruptions.

    https://nomoremister.blogspot.com/2020/09/biden-couldnt-get-his-point-across-and.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. There may be a bit of bothsiderism in this story.

    But there is no Hillary’s EMAILZ! or Clinton Cash equivalent directed at Biden by the media.

    There has been basically zero mention of “Fredo” Hunter Biden (so termed by Somerby), the son of “terrible” candidate Joe Biden (also so termed by Somerby), or of the not credible Tara Reade, who caused Somerby to have visions of Gennifer Flowers, and there has been an effort to distinguish the violent protesters from the peaceful ones, and not to pin the violence on Biden, even though Somerby wants more coverage of the unrest.

    (“They'll wonder why an all-around "Fredo" like Hunter Biden was ever offered "a lucrative seat on the board of a company called Burisma”
    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2019/09/impeachment-is-right-around-corner-again.html

    “For the record, we think Biden is a terrible candidate”
    http://dailyhowler.blogspot.com/2019/12/whatever-happened-to-candidate-harris.html)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somerby has been attacking Biden because he wants Trump to win. Somerby is a Trumptard

      Delete
    2. Biden is a terrible candidate. That's an accurate statement. He's on the verge of death for goodness sakes.

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    3. I'm gonna tear a certain someone a new asshole

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    4. can i watch

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