Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Journalism vs. Advocacy; RFK's Ridiculous Article.

The difference between journalism and advocacy.

• A good journalist gathers the facts, interviews the principals, explains the seeming anomalies and then presents it in an understandable way.

• Advocates only present the facts that support their point of view, ignore the ones that don't, read people's minds and pack it all up into a conspiracy that doesn't really exist.

The later is exactly what Robert F. Kennedy Jr did writing for Rolling Stone Magazine in the June 15th edition entitled DID BUSH STEAL THE 2004 ELECTION? How 350,000 Votes Disappeared in Ohio"

Like many Americans, I spent the evening of the 2004 election watching the returns on television and wondering how the exit polls, which predicted an overwhelming victory for John Kerry, had gotten it so wrong. By midnight, the official tallies showed a decisive lead for George Bush -- and the next day, lacking enough legal evidence to contest the results, Kerry conceded. Republicans derided anyone who expressed doubts about Bush's victory as nut cases in ''tinfoil hats,'' while the national media, with few exceptions, did little to question the validity of the election. The Washington Post immediately dismissed allegations of fraud as ''conspiracy theories,''(1) and The New York Times declared that ''there is no evidence of vote theft or errors on a large scale.''(2)

But despite the media blackout, indications continued to emerge that something deeply troubling had taken place in 2004. Nearly half of the 6 million American voters living abroad(3) never received their ballots -- or received them too late to vote(4) -- after the Pentagon unaccountably shut down a state-of-the-art Web site used to file overseas registrations.(5) A consulting firm called Sproul & Associates, which was hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in six battleground states,(6) was discovered shredding Democratic registrations.(7) In New Mexico, which was decided by 5,988 votes,(8) malfunctioning machines mysteriously failed to properly register a presidential vote on more than 20,000 ballots.(9) Nationwide, according to the federal commission charged with implementing election reforms, as many as 1 million ballots were spoiled by faulty voting equipment -- roughly one for every 100 cast.(10)
-Numbers depict footnote references of which this article is loaded.-

There's plenty more drivel where that came from but for respect for space and your sanity I'll leave it at that. You may read the article at your leisure.

So to make the very long drawn out story of his short the answer given is "Yes He Did" The early exit polls that showed John Kerry winning the election; the stories of lost, delayed and denied voter registration cards; the long lines and other problems at many polling places; and the presence of Secretary of State Ken Blackwell as an overarching malevolent Republican presence all led Kennedy to conclude that a vast and wide-ranging series of conspiracies resulted in Kerry losing an election that the majority of Ohio voters wanted him to win. has posted a great rebuttal called Was the 2004 election stolen? No.

There was no shortage of mistakes made in vote counting. There were voters who should have been registered but weren't, polling places with lines that were too long and without enough voting machines, and decisions from Blackwell that appeared to be partisan.

All these mistakes and misjudgments took votes from both candidates, but probably more from Kerry. But they didn't add up to nearly enough votes to swing Ohio from Bush to Kerry.

The mistakes were often a result of lack of foresight and bad judgment, but they were bipartisan in nature and not a result of Republican Deception.
Here are some examples how RFK exhibited the traits of an advocate over that of a good journalist:

- Kennedy offers the exit polls as proof that the election was flawed by saying, (A) Election Day exit polls are always right, and (B) the 2004 exit polls had Kerry winning the election; therefore (C) the election must have been stolen.

That's nonsense - exit polls are often wrong.

- He cited an example from the 2004 Florida exit poll that was partially based on the pollsters' expectation that 18- to 29-year-old voters, a group that leaned heavily toward Kerry, would account for 17 percent of the vote there.

The exit poll was weighted accordingly for that age group, but it turned out that the age group actually accounted for only 13 percent of the vote, which skewed the poll inaccurately toward Kerry.

-In his online footnotes, Kennedy refers no less than a half-dozen times to a five-month-long post-election investigation commissioned by the Democratic National Committee called, "Democracy at Risk."

But never quotes the DNC investigative team's conclusion that "The statistical study of precinct-level data does not suggest the occurrence of widespread fraud that systematically misallocated votes from Kerry to Bush."

- Kennedy saw conspiracy in a Franklin County foul-up that resulted in far too few voting machines at a polling place in a heavily black area that would presumably vote mainly for Kerry.

But he didn't tell his readers that the chairman of the Franklin County elections board, who oversaw the county's voting machine allocation, was a black man who also chairs the county Democratic Party. Not a likely candidate to steal votes for Bush.

Kennedy finished the piece by charging that Ohio's press has turned a blind eye to the stolen election, refused to investigate all these charges, and simply accepted the result as valid.

This is just pure nonsense any reporter who could actually verify a story proving that a vast right wing conspiracy cost John Kerry the presidency would become the darling of the left and would probably win a Pulitzer Prize and a first class all expenses paid trip to Hollywood. Personal politics aside, name a reporter who wouldn't jump at that opportunity?

And it looks like the center left blogs even distanced themselves from this. Has vote-fraud become taboo for the left? The Dogs That Didn't Bark!
The farther away from Ohio you are, the more inclined you may be to find merit or believe in that Rolling Stone piece. I'm sure it didn't take you long to figure out, though, that the piece not only reports "No New News" but that it's complete Nonsense!

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