In the "comments" section, Salon writer Farhad Manjoo responded to yesterday's call for a Salon boycott, which I issued in the wake of his piece attacking vote fraud investigators. In the interest of fairness, I'll repeat his words in full here. (Italics indicate when he has quoted me.)
1) Actually, Manjoo replaces the "rBr" nomenclature with a new label: "exuberant Democratic responder."
That's a lie. I never say those words. You just made that up. And it's pretty astonishing that you do so in the context of questioning my ethics.
2) Are any Republicans of your acquaintance shrinking violets? Turn on your radio: Do the voices of reaction sound even slightly embarrassed or cautious? Democrats are the ones who have been cowed into silence by the violent brownshirts of the right.
Saying it's horseshit doesn't refute the studies done by pollsters showing this to be the case (studies cited in my article). Can you offer any response to those studies? And can you explain why exit polls -- not only in 2004 -- consistently show a Democratic tilt? You should be able to support your calling it horsehit. You do none of that here. (And if your response is that you can't believe the pollsters' studies because they're corrupt, tell me why you believe their polls.)
3) And why were exit polls accurate in this country until the ascension of the Bush dynasty? Why are they still considered extremely accurate in Europe?
That's wrong. You're making that up. Exit polls showed Clinton winning bigger than he did in 1992 and 1996. The only reason people didn't cry about it was that those races weren't close, and Clinton still won. As Mark Blumenthal points out, you can see proof of this in the movie "War Room." See how they figured based on the exits Clinton would win a landslide. Of course, he did not.
Don't lie to your readers about the history of exit polling, Joseph. 2004 was not the first year the exits were off.
4) If you look carefully at the work of Mitofsky and Liddle, you will see that their theories accept as a given the proposition that the count was accurate. How can we accept an explanatory scenario from someone who stipulates the very point under dispute?
Again, you're wrong. You're either lying or mistaken. Liddle does not accept this as a given, Joseph. You just made that up.
5)According to Manjoo, anyone who dares to raise these common-sense issues deserves to be damned as a wild-eyed lefty. In the past, Salon itself has been on the receiving end of such derision. How dare they lob similar accusations at those who do the progressive work Salon now prefers to ignore?
That's silly, Joseph -- I never suggest that. My article says only this: The evidence showing that the exit polls were off is pretty good. I say nowhere that Republicans are incapable of fraud; that raising the issue of fraud is crazy; or that we shouldn't reform the election system.
In fact the reason to refute the refutable theories of fraud is precisely to push forward reform. Salon has been pushing for election reform since the 2002 election. Search for "salon diebold" in Google. You'll see were were one of the first major outlets to write about that company and the dangers of electronic voting machines. I'm even one of the good guys in Bev Harris's book, for Pete's sake.
But if you want real reform you need to do it in a bipartisan way; you're not going to get any moderates on board by yelling, without evidence, that the last election was stolen. Which is exactly what you're doing in this post (with, as I've shown, not even the facts to back you up).
Where to start?
Let's begin with Bev Harris -- "Saint Bev," as some call her -- cited by Manjoo as though I should be very, very impressed with her. As indeed I once was. Then she announced that she had found discarded poll tapes
in Florida which would prove that fraud had been committed. Quoth Bev: "The pattern was very clear. The anomalies favored George W. Bush. Every single time."
In late November, the Sainted One promised a "major announcement" concerning those tapes. We're still waiting for it. Whenever the topic comes up, she retreats into a Trappist silence -- and she even refused to show the tapes to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
Since she refuses to drop the other shoe, forgive me for doubting that she ever had a shoe to begin with. Sorry, Farhad, but I'm no longer impressed by that woman -- just confused.
Manjoo tries to convince his readers that "fraud freaks" have concentrated on exit poll controversies to the exclusion of concerns he considers more vital. That accusation hardly applies to me, to Brad Friedman, to the many Democratic Underground posters, to the writers at Raw Story, to the heroic workers who oversaw the Ohio recount, and to any number of people who have devoted time and energy to the discussion of all
aspects of vote fraud.
You ask me to fire up Google, Farhad? Fine.
Let's type in "Manjoo" and "Clint Curtis." Let's type in "Manjoo" and "John Conyers" and "Ohio." Or "Manjoo" and "Katrina Sumner." Or "Manjoo" and "Richard Hayes Phillips." Or "Manjoo" and "Snohomish." Or "Manjoo" and "Georgia10." (Whoever she is, she wrote an invaluable piece on the shennanigans in Ohio.) Or "Manjoo" and "Triad." Or "Manjoo" and "Ahmanson." Or "Manjoo" and "recount" and "Ohio." Or "Manjoo" and "Carter" and "Baker." Or "Manjoo" and "machine" and "switched" and "vote." Or...
Well, why go on? This blog and others have discussed many, many
aspects of the vote fraud controversy which Manjoo has left unaddressed. True, the combination of "Manjoo" and "African-American" and "disenfranchise" will bring up one relevant piece by Manjoo -- but it was written before
In fact, Manjoo is the one who has concentrated on exit polls
. This isn't a case of the pot calling the kettle black. More like the tomato calling the cucumber a red.
His pathetic cries of "liar liar" are similarly disingenuous.
In my reading, Mitfosky and Liddle have provided no evidence that either Democratic responders were enthusiastic or Bush Responders were reluctant. They have merely indicated that such might be
the case -- leaving it for the propagandists to shift "might be" to "is," as Manjoo has done. For all the abstruse arguments over statistical methodology, the argument comes down to this: If we posit that Bush responders were under-represented, then the exit poll disparity is explained.
Again, this scenario demands that we stipulate as a given the very point we are trying to determine.
Manjoo presents no real proof that Kerry voters were over-represented. But I have often discussed proof (I'll go so far as to say hard
proof -- at least, I've seen no persuasive refutation) that, in fact, the exit polls over-represented Bush
supporters. Not only did Kerry win, he won by a larger margin than most would consider possible.
Regular readers will forgive me for repeating one simple, damning fact again
, but as the old song says -- if the man don't listen, you got to yell a little louder. Now, I'm fearful that Manjoo might lapse into a "Deiter" impersonation ("Your qvestions haff become tiresome; now is ze time on Shprockets ven ve dahnce
!), which is what most people do the moment they are asked to respond to this point, which I consider vital. So let's use boldface letters. That way, even Manjoo can't miss the message:In 2004, the exit pollsters also asked the voters about their choice in 2000. The majority of respondents said that they had pulled the lever for "Bush" in that election. Yet in 2000, AL GORE WON THE POPULAR VOTE.
If you like, I can use larger type. Italics. Maybe upload a sound file. Because I've been making this point for months
now. So has "Truth is All" on DU (at great length, and in boggling detail). So have others.
Yet Manjoo and his fellow ostriches refuse to address the issue!
He refuses to explain how, in the known political universe, the exit pollsters might encounter so many people resistant to Bush's charms in 2004 who nevertheless brag about (or confess to) voting for Bush in 2000. If Bush voters are by nature reluctant to speak to those eeee-vil pollsters, why doesn't this reluctance color the question about Bush/Gore?
Elizabeth Liddle, I can happily report, did make a stab at responding (in these pages) to the 2000/2004 problem. I respect her for not pulling a "Deiter." But as my readers know, in this instance, Febble was feeble, offering hazy guesswork where fact was needed.
Good Sir William of Occam remains our most reliable guide: The simplest explanation to cover all the facts is likeliest to be true. In this case, the simplest explanation is that the exits pollsters over-represented the Bush
vote, not the Kerry vote. The evidence favoring this idea is a lot stronger than the rBr (or eDr) nonsense peddled by Mitofsky and Manjoo.
Incidentally, Manjoo calls me a liar for seconding the opinion at DU that his argument can be summarized by the sobriquet "enthusiastic Democratic responder." (I've always preferred the term "chatty Dem theory," which almost
caught on...!.) But his own cyber-ink proves beyond rational debate that he is, in fact, pushing what we may call the "eDr" scenario. (Granted, in yesterday's post I should have said "Manjoo would have us replace..." instead of "Manjoo replaces..." I do apologise for writing too rapidly. But the basic point still stands.)
Regarding previous exit polls:
Exit polls showed Clinton winning bigger than he did in 1992 and 1996. The only reason people didn't cry about it was that those races weren't close, and Clinton still won. As Mark Blumenthal points out, you can see proof of this in the movie "War Room." See how they figured based on the exits Clinton would win a landslide. Of course, he did not.
In this instance, I was careful in my wording. I said that exits were considered accurate until the ascent of the Bush dynasty
. Diebold and ESS have been up to their dirty numbers for a while now. Thank you for helping to buttress my point!
Saying it's horseshit doesn't refute the studies done by pollsters showing this to be the case (studies cited in my article). Can you offer any response to those studies? And can you explain why exit polls -- not only in 2004 -- consistently show a Democratic tilt?
"Cited"? Maybe I'm missing something, but I've been clicking the links in Manjoo's June 15 piece and have yet to find any citation to an exit poll study that goes back before the rise of the Bush dynasty. Yes, I have seen studies which claim to demonstrate a consistent Democratic tilt in the exit polling since 1988. But these studies operate under the presumption that the "actuals" are irrefutable and the exits must therefore be mistaken. Studies that stipulate the very point under question are of little value.
The study Manjoo does
cite discusses the display of folders and pens bearing network logos in an experimental situation. This experiment is of no real value to us. As Manjoo himself notes, pollsters in 2004 did not flash logos. Since no evidence indicates any voter reluctance to speak to non-logo-bearing pollsters, his point disappears into the vapor.
And Manjoo still doesn't respond to the question about the accuracy of exit polls in Europe, but not here.
Neither does he mention many other pertinent points, such as the fact that vote tabulation companies have a disturbing history of bribing election officials and offering them comfy sinecures, in order to get their hackable machines into position. Or this administration's efforts to impede international observation of the 2004 vote. Or Leto's study of Snohomish county, where the electronic vote differed substantially from the paper vote -- a difference inexplicable by any theory other than vote fraud.
Neither does Manjoo offer any suggestions as to how we might double-check our highly-questionable paper-free compu-vote. If we blithely toss out any exit polls that conflict with the official story, what else do we have
(By the way, I'm not the only one to detect the distinct odor of rodent when Manjoo walks into the room. Readers interested in Bob Somerby's take on Manjoo should click here
About the larger question of Salon's current value to progressives:
I'm afraid the famed cyber-zine is at a familiar crossroads. Here in Los Angeles, the free (and formerly feisty) L.A. Weekly
reached a similar point in the late 1980s. That's when a publication which had done so much to stop Reagan's planned war in Central America presented us with an endless parade of inane cover stories about Madonna's cultural impact or the sexual confessions of that strange lady who later married Elmore Leonard.
Salon, which was once the
place to go for those who wanted the truth about the Right's war on Clinton, now prints very little cutting-edge investigative reporting. Lately, I've gone there mostly for the movie reviews. But in the Bush economy, I can't really afford movies. So why read the reviews?
Finally: I don't want this blog to devolve into a pissing match between one Salon writer and myself. Manjoo delivered a cup and I have responded with a quart. If the urine overflows the gallon mark, I'll restrict further emissions to email.