Tuesday, June 7, 2016

If the Associated Press Says It, It Must Be True; I Will Work Harder

Yesterday, as you will no doubt have heard, the Associated Press ran a story on the eve of the California primary, announcing that Hillary Rodham Clinton already had all the delegates and superdelegates she needed to win the nomination for the Democratic Party's candidate for President.  That was great news, of course, because leaving behind that trivial but painful question will let the media concentrate on really important issues.  

This morning the lefty/progressive news outlet Democracy Now! ran a story announcing that many voters had essentially surrendered.  According to"Rose Aguilar, host of 'Your Call,' a daily public affairs radio show on NPR-affiliate KALW in San Francisco":
So 250,000 people have turned in their ballots, and this organization did an exit poll and asked these people, "All right, how many of you turned in a ballot without voting for a president?" It was 42 percent. They wanted to vote for president, and they didn’t. [Bold type mine -- DM.]  And they wanted to vote for a Democrat. So that’s almost half. That’s about 125,000 people in the state of California—

AMY GOODMAN: Why didn’t they vote?
ROSE AGUILAR: —have already voted without voting for a president. And 57 percent of those voters said they wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders. So people are turning in ballots without voting for a president. So you have to ask for a crossover ballot.
I suggest you read the entire interview, because as what I've quoted indicates, the situation is complicated.  The California primary balloting system is evidently set up to make it difficult for voters to vote as they wish.

It's funny: many Democrats are still blaming Ralph Nader for costing Al Gore the Presidency in 2000, though it's not at all clear he did so. (I lost most of the respect I had for Stephen Colbert when he parroted that line to discourage Sanders voters last month.)  Will those same Democrats attack the DNC and the AP for taking the nomination away from Sanders today?

But there's something else: I think it's a safe bet that Sanders supporters are more cynical about the corporate media than most voters. If I'm right, it's also strange that so many (125,000!?) evidently believed the AP story/propaganda, despite all the recent examples of media distortion about the primaries. (That's why I say "cynical," not "skeptical.") Instead of casting a vote for Sanders anyway, they let themselves be fooled. "They wanted to vote for president, and they didn’t." No one made them give up, they chose to do it. When people believe such falsehoods, I always suspect that it's because they wanted an excuse to believe them, on some level. If they really wanted to vote for a presidential candidate (not for president) they could have. They chose not to. What will they do in November if the media lie again?
None of this excuses the AP, you understand, but they didn't make anyone do anything.

But I may be wrong.  From Aguilar's full remarks, it's not clear how much the AP story really had to do with the failure of many California voters to cast a vote for a presidential nominee in this primary.  (That's another sore point with me: many people in both parties talk about the primaries as if they chose the President, not the respective parties' candidates for President.  The Republicans I know consistently cited Trump's poll numbers among Republicans as if they represented his popularity among all voters,  Some Democrats I know scolded Clinton's or Sanders's critics as if they undermining the outcome of the November elections, which are still several months away.  The best was probably the Clintonbot who wrote in a blog comment a month ago], "Just remember that all the pessimism you express in comment sections on the internet helps Donald Trump."

Aguilar also told Amy Goodman:
Now, to make matters even more confusing, the Los Angeles Times had a really good report about a month ago and found that 500,000 Californians checked off the American Independent Party box, thinking, well, that’s the independent party, right? Seems logical. That is an ultra, ultra-right party in California, the American Independent Party. And the L.A. Times found that 75 percent of those voters had no idea it was an ultra-right party. So, it’s really shameful that the rules are so confusing.
I don't see, from what Aguilar says, what this has to do with "the rules."  It seems to be about a reasonable confusion due to the name of an "ultra, ultra-right party," which chose its name for propaganda purposes, in order to sound attractive to voters.  (You know, like "Democratic" and "Republican."  The names do not describe the actual principles or platforms of the parties.)

We will never have a government of by and for the people if the people don't think critically. But even highly trained professionals complain when the terms of a controversy aren't set out clearly and impartially in advance, predigested as it were, even though their training is ostensibly designed to teach them how to see through the extraneous elements to the core of a problem.  A good society will never be handed to us on a platter.  The rich and powerful don't even need to use coercion, just a well-timed lie in the news media.  That can be countered fairly bloodlessly, but you have counter it.