links for 2009-06-16
And We Are Not Yet at the Bottom...

The Washington Post Might Be Turning into... Half a Newspaper

Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta of the Washington Post news staff hoist the jolly roger and fire back at the mendacious and incompetent Washington Post editorial page:

About Those Iran Polls - Behind the Numbers: Public opinion surveys are central to the Iranian opposition's argument that the elections there were rigged for incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.... Now a competing poll conducted by two American groups is being used as part of the pushback. In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty write up the results of their telephone poll carried out in mid-May, showing Ahmadinejad ahead "by a more than 2 to 1 margin - greater than his actual apparent margin of victory in Friday's election."...

[T]he poll was conducted from May 11 to 20, well before the spike in support for Mousavi his supporters claim.... More to the point, however, the poll that appears in today's op-ed shows a 2 to 1 lead in the thinnest sense: 34 percent of those polled said they'd vote for Ahmadinejad, 14 percent for Mousavi. That leaves 52 percent unaccounted for. In all, 27 percent expressed no opinion in the election, and another 15 percent refused to answer the question at all. Six Eight percent said they'd vote for none of the listed candidates; the rest for minor candidates.

One should be enormously wary of the current value of a poll taken so far before such a heated contest, particularly one where more than half of voters did not express an opinion.

Shame on Ken Ballen and Patrik Doherty for suppressing their actual results--for not writing "34-14, with 42 percent not answering the question or no opinion" and instead writing "Ahmednijad leading by a more than 2 to 1 margin..." Shame on Fred Hiatt for printing it. Shame on Lally Weymouth and Donald Graham for continuing to employ Fred Hiatt. Two and a half years ago I got an email from Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post editorial staff, asking me why I no longer presume that Post reporters are "trying, hard, to do their job..." This sorry episode answers her once again.

Congratulations to Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta.