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Video on the Fox News “Misinformation” Study

John on December 28, 2010 at 11:04 am

It’s longish but enjoyable:

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If this sounds a bit familiar, that may be because Lee examined the same four elements of this study that I looked at 10 days ago. In fact, he made most of the same points (the doc fix, two votes for Tarp) and used some of the videos I directed readers to. He even mentions, at the end, the bit about Fox hosts never having pushed the birther idea which appears in the third paragraph of my post.

He definitely expanded on my work in some significant ways, especially on the first point, but I think I could reasonably claim a co-author credit on this. I’ve met Lee (Blogcon) and think he’s a good guy, but given the extent of the similarities a sizable hat tip would have been nice. My days as a ghost writer are over.

Update: I just spoke to Lee on the phone. He assures my that he did not use my post as a template but came to all of these points independently. The only portion of my post which he says influenced him was the mention about a 4% difference between Fox viewers and NPR viewers. He says this one bit is why he gave me a hat tip. He also says that in reality he relied more on Johnny Dollar’s response to the study than on mine.

As I said, I like Lee’s work and I don’t think he’s a bad guy. He certainly is capable of coming to the same conclusions I did and has a track record of digging into things on his own. Since I put this out in public I extended the opportunity to let Lee respond how ever he wants to right here on this post. When I get his response I will post it.

Update 2: Here’s Lee’s response. I don’t have time to respond to it now as I have a dinner appointment that I’m about to leave for, but I will have some final thoughts on this later today:

After I saw your tweet and subsequent blog post, my heart literally sank.

When that University of Maryland study came out, I immediately read the PDF of the study because I had dealt with numerous studies like this in college.  I started reading the footnotes, and soon realized the CBO reports were cited heavily to represent what most economists think.  Around that time, I remember tweeting about the CBO reports and wrote a few quick comments on the HuffPo article the day it was written.  I recall writing about how the Stimulus misallocated resources and cited the debt commission report link, which had determined there was phantom savings (referring in part to the ‘Doc Fix’).

In fact, the issue that stuck out immediately was the ‘Doc Fix.’  I had discussed the ‘Doc Fix’ in numerous videos of mine. (I think as early as October 2009, when S. 1776 was in the works.)  In fact, I had personal friends at the time who wanted to know about the status of the Medicare Reimbursements, and I sat in on a meeting in Washington as S.1776 was being discussed.  So I was well-aware of the ‘Doc Fix’ and how it works.

I was also well aware of the stimulus issues, and knew about a CATO letter to the public.  However, I wasn’t aware how bad it was until I read the actual CBO study and watched about an hour of a Cspan lecture from the Director to find that last question about the Stimulus (yes, I sat through the whole boring Cspan lecture and didn’t simply get it off YouTube, because it isn’t there to my knowledge).

I also was well aware of the TARP vote because, after it failed to pass, I remember arguing with people on Huffington Post or some Leftwing blog when they blamed the Republicans for the stock market crashing subsequent to the TARP bailout, and I argued that the GOP couldn’t have stopped it but for some Democrats; there weren’t enough Republicans to stop it (this ignores entirely the merits of TARP, but we’re not discussing that).

In terms of the Media Matters video, the way I got that video was Googling “Doc Fix” and Fox News.  The reason why I was searching for it was because I actually spoke with the head researcher of the Maryland study about the “Doc Fix.”  He argued that, at the very least, the public should be aware of the CBO report before they start to argue about its merits.  I needed to see if Fox News viewers had ever been told about the CBO report when learning about “Doc Fix.”  The comment I made in my video Cavuto was a direct response to the head researchers, but only he would pick up on that.

The way I conducted research was reading the actual study for several days, and then spending this entire Christmas break reading everything I could about the Stimulus, the Economy and the Study itself (three days straight almost).  That is how I came upon your blog, which I must say was outstanding.  In fact, I clicked on every one of your links, as I did with everything else I read to see if you had read the same sources I did.

Moreover, if you look at the blog post about the subject on worldpublicopinion’s website, they write the following:

“Daily watchers of network TV news broadcasts were 12 points higher in believing that TARP was signed into law by President Obama, and 11 points higher in believing that most Republicans oppose TARP.”

That made me check the crosstabs of the study in more detail and I was curious about the statistical significance of some of the numbers.  I noticed Fox News viewers were not as off from other news watchers.

When I came upon your blog, I noticed you had specifically addressed the crosstabs.  However, you may have missed an important point, didn’t address it or I simply couldn’t find it on your blog.  In the crosstabs about the stimulus “saved or created a few jobs” or “lost jobs,” the researchers combined two answers.  Why?  They reported to the public the one answer on “job losses due to the stimulus,” which Fox News viewers actually did appear to be quite divergent.  My video clarifies this distinction, which makes it different from your blog post.  But, you were right about the Broadcast viewers being more misinformed than Fox News viewers according to the study and I used that point in my video.

Lastly, the last point I made in my video addressed the “correlation does not equal causation” argument.  Where did people hear about the information?  Was it from a political advertisement?  Was it from talk radio, which leads to people watching Fox News?  In fact, the birther response I had actually gotten from Media Matters.  They were complaining that Lou Dobbs was going to be on Fox News, and then went on about Fox Nation.  The only other mention they had was Hannity talking about it on the Radio, without supporting it.  It was never on Fox News.  You implied that, but I didn’t get it from you.

Overall, during the course of my research, I read and watched an incredible amount and did about 36 hours+ of research on my own.  Newsbusters, Johnny Dollar, Reason, Herritage, Patterico, etc. all made fantastic points, many of which I came up with independently.  However, during the course of my research, I had a massive email link list of everything I had read, some of which I never used, and I put them in the description of the video (your link was included).

Had you wanted more noticeable recognition, or you thought I wronged you, it would have been better to email me in private, and we could have discussed this.  The goal is to debunk this study, and you demonstrated that you’re someone who I want on my team because your post was excellent, and it deserves to be recognized as an excellent post.

But, my character is something I take too seriously to be called into question, and I put way too much work into this video for someone else to imply they were my ghostwriter for a 21 minute video.

I look forward to reading your work in the future.



Update 3: Lee was certainly on top of some of these issues from day one. His twitter feed shows that. He’s a smart guy and I have no doubt he could have come up with all this on his own. But did he?

My post dealing with the same five topics he covered in his video was headlined by Hot Air on the morning of the 19th. I don’t know if he caught it then, but he told me he relied on Johnny Dollar’s post. And what’s right there in Johnny’s post:

Analysis of the WPO’s ‘correct answers’ to these survey questions has found many of them to be either unconvincing [<--a link to my post] or factually incorrect.

I know Lee read Johnny’s post by the 20th because he tweeted his kudos to Johnny. It wasn’t until the next day that he announced he’d “likely” be making a video about it for the following weekend. So it sounds like he hadn’t completed his research or written his script by then.

Maybe I’m quibbling, but if you read a bunch of stuff written by other bloggers and then make a lot of the same points nearly a week later, is that really independent research? For example, I wrote this about birtherism and Fox:

While it does show some misinformation on questions about Obama’s birth certificate and whether or not taxes were raised or lowered, the survey does nothing to demonstrate that Fox has promoted the false answers.

Days later, Lee’s script would include this:

The fact that Fox News viewers are supposedly more likely to believe that Obama was not born in America has nothing to do with Fox News. Why? Because no host on Fox News has ever affirmatively pushed that myth.

See the difference? Neither do I. I’m not saying he transcribed it, obviously the wording is different, but it’s a paraphrase. There are other similarities like this, one of which he admitted getting from my site (that wasn’t the one). I’m not going to waste your time piling them on this already overlong post.

To his credit, Lee did give me a link on You Tube (before I complained) in a list of about 30 other links. It’s something, I guess. At this point I’m just tired of fighting for scraps from the table. What does a guy have to do to get a place setting around here?

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