Daily Kos, Thy Name Is Fail
When it comes to political blogging, I must confess that I’m rather new on the scene. Not that I haven’t participated in political debate and discussion. On one political discussion forum I have almost 20k posts since 2005 and have had many face to face discussions over the years. One thing I learned early on was that, in the arena of ideas and debate, credibility was important. I sometimes spent hours researching my position for accuracy. Personally, I think discussion forums present a much more challenging platform than that of blogging In a forum, everyone is on equal standing and any of thousands of readers can jump in and dispute your posts.
Bloggers tend to operate in a vacuum or echo chamber and the accuracy of their articles are rarely challenged. When they do allow you to comment, many authors will sanitize the comments, purging any challenge that might injure their standing with there blog followers.
I’ve never had any formal education in journalism but I’m guessing that even the most basic courses cover things like the importance of research and accuracy. I have at least a dozen articles on this site that are still held in “draft” status because I cannot confirm something or am waiting for permission to use a quote or content.
Yesterday I received an email with a link to our site on the far left blog Daily Kos. The article was so poorly researched and written that I thought I’d post a comment with corrections. It’s been almost 17 hours since I signed up and I’ve yet to receive an email confirmation and since I used the admin email address of this site, I doubt I ever will.
Where to begin?
There is so much wrong with this article, I’m not even sure where to start. The entire premise of the article is based on a logical fallacy (reverse causation), suggesting that campaign yard sign colors were chosen based on the Oct shutdown. The author states that some Republican candidates selected a color other than red, based on the shutdown polls of mid October.
“What does this mean?
It’s probably too small a sample to draw any real conclusions. Yet my guess is that Republicans don’t want to advertise too much that they’re Republicans lately. Or at least they seem to be trying to soften their image a little after the shutdown.”
My first thought was that I doubted candidates waited till mid October to order their Yard signs but I read on. As I continued to read his article, I kept expecting something of substance, I mean, this guy is a professional blogger. I was sure the “gotcha” moment was coming. There was none, his entire supposition was based on the impossible decision to do something yesterday based on an event today. The title of his article was “Purple is the New Red: Campaign Sign Pictures from SW Ohio”. The image of Matt King’s campaign sign was proof of his conclusion. I wondered…did he even think about asking? I contacted Matt King and asked him when he decided on a purple theme for his campaign. His response was “early July”, three months before the shutdown.
A Sea of Red
Another premise of his article is that Republicans are somehow deceiving the people by yard sign color. He even mentions that West Chester is historically heavily Republican. So why would a bunch of Republicans in a Republican township attempt to pose as Democrats?
“West Chester, OH – John Boehner’s district
My first thought was to look at the city of Cincinnati. But it wouldn’t surprise me if there was more blue in the city because it skews Democratic (see below). More interestingly, what would the landscape look like in West Chester?
West Chester is about as Republican as you get in Cincinnati. The big race going on in West Chester is for West Chester Township Trustee. Two incumbents (Catherine Stoker (R) and Lee Wong (R)) are up against two Tea Party challenges (Mark Welch (R) and Matthew King (R)).
Now this was more like it. Republican vs. Republican. It should be a sea of red.”
After showing images of all four Trustee candidate yard signs, he says:
“This was really surprising. No red from the trustee race. Not even from the Tea Party challengers.”
First we were supposed to believe his theory that Republicans have some sort of time travel device that allows them to make past campaign decisions based on future events. If that logic wasn’t dysfunctional enough for you, he’s admittedly baffled that none of the West Chester Trustee candidate yard signs are red and yet, after having dis-proven his own theory with this revelation, he publishes it anyway. It seems his study had a predetermined outcome…results be damned
“My rules for the study were simple”
Apparently they were too “simple”
Who deceived Who?
So who was played the fool? The author claims that the West Chester Township election is between four Republicans.
“(Catherine Stoker (R) and Lee Wong (R)) are up against two Tea Party challenges (Mark Welch (R) and Matthew King (R)).”
Based on his theories, the Republicans signs should be red and they are deceiving voters by hiding their party. The truth is that Trustee Catherine Stoker is a Democrat, her yard sign is not blue and she is running as a faux conservative. Even a token Google search would have revealed this. Trustee Lee Wong is a registered Republican but has a well established progressive RINO history and votes with Democrat Stoker most of the time. Mark Welch and Matt King are registered Republicans and while both have attended Tea Party meetings, our local Tea Party has been quite silent on the election. A search for “Matt King” and “Mark Welch” on the West Chester Tea Party site resulted in “0” hits. Again, even a modest attempt to research would have revealed these open facts to the author. While I doubt they care, the readers of Daily Kos were deceived by the Author who was deceived by a Democrat and a Progressive…how ironic given the intent of the Author.
Who decided what color means Republican?
Lastly, errors aside, the author seems to have a red-blue color fixation that outside of election graphics, isn’t shared by the rest of the nation. The red state/blue state media assigned colors is a recent (decade) change (see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2003/12/31/7246/-When-did-red-start-to-mean-right-wing) and generally only mentioned relevant to geographical aids. Another link: Red State Blues, Did I Miss That Memo? Another: Origins of the color scheme
It takes a lot longer than a decade for something like party color assignments to filter down into a tradition. I doubt politicians would ever adhere to something as silly as a media assigned color.
Had this article been presented to any real media outlet, it would have never made it past the editor’s desk. Every premise the author uses is false and there was little to no research. It appears it was just red meat for the Kossack zombies, a hit piece and a poor one at that.
Apparently, Daily Kos didn’t learn anything from the Research2K debacle. Why worry about “reputational harm” and “considerable harm to the general public” (see http://www.scribd.com/collections/2537092/DAILY-KOS-v-RESEARCH-2000) for inaccuracies of polls when you allow authors to just make stuff up?