Manufacturing right-wing bias

Von, of ObiWings, dissects a rather unsurprisingly propagandistic Rasmussen poll on immigration:

Although 58 percent of voters want to abolish birthright citizenship for illegal aliens, "[s]ixty percent (60%) of voters favor a welcoming immigrant policy that excludes only national security threats, criminals and those who would come here to live off our welfare system."  Honestly, though, what a crappy question.  What is really being tested when a question asking about welcoming immigrants excludes immigrants "who would come here to live off our welfare system"?  At the 30,000 foot level, this kind of qualification is like polling people about whether or not they would like to have a nice cookie "that doesn’t have ants in it."  Umm, yes, sign me up for that cookie, and leave all those anty cookies back on the shelf.

That anyone takes Rasmussen seriously anymore is beyond me. Then again Fox is considered ‘fair and balanced’ by right-wingers, so it’s no great surprise that Rasmussen is similarly well-received. That’s Rasumussen’s raison d’etre  after all – to offer comfort to its intended audience and to provide cover for right-wing bias under the guise of an actual poll.

Legitimate polling outfits don’t toss in qualifiers like “to live off our welfare system” when asking about immigration. That would be, at best, two separate questions – “Do you approve of immigration?” and “Should immigrants be allowed to benefit from our welfare system?”

Sure, there are other pollsters out there providing spin on any number of issues. Campaign pollsters routinely do this, because they want their guy to win. But even campaign pollsters want to know where they really stand in a given race, and will turn to reliable polling operations to find out. Rasmussen is like a campaign pollster for the conservative movement writ large.

I think the notion of ‘epistemic closure’ has been regurgitated and batted about to the point of silliness at this point – but it strikes me that Rasmussen and similar organizations are in the business of manufacturing this sort of worldview much more than they are in the business of discovering what Americans actually think. I wonder if this whole epistemic closure thing would be such a relevant topic if we had more honest and less biased conservative news organizations out there. Then again, perhaps there really just isn’t the market for that sort of thing.

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22 thoughts on “Manufacturing right-wing bias

  1. That is a pretty hilarious question for a poll when you think about it. Like they just transcribed it from a conversation overheard in a Phoenix bar or something.

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  2. “Then again Fox is considered ‘fair and balanced’ by right-wingers,”

    Compared to the liberal bias in most major news outlets, Fox is far more fair and balanced. CNN does a fairly good job. I watch all of them to see which ones present boh sides of current controversies and issues, and Fox does the best job of presenting both sides — in their news sections. But even the opinion shows like O’Reilly present both sides, even if in the end he leans one way or the other. I don’t like Hannity much, but the last few times I’ve watched he’s had liberal guests in a panel-like discussion, and the liberals have their say. I’ve been surprised at intelligent people charging Fox with bias. They actually report stories that other news outlets ignore or bury, usually stories unflattering to the adminsitration or some liberal cause, but when they report it, they’re careful to give the facts and report the reactions in a balanced way. They report stories unflattering to Republicans, and I’ve seen many segments when the reporting was straightforward and damaging to Republicans. The opinion shows have a bias and it’s stated upfront but they are good about getting the other side in the programs so they can have their say — but the news is superior to other outlets.

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  3. The irony in all this is that “closure” doesn’t apply to those who can’t give any credit to the other side when it’s due. I’ve seen moderates consistently attack conservatives even when the facts are on the conservative side, then accuse the conservatives of bias and closure. So far, the limited government conservatives have reflected the national movement away from progressivism, while the moderates and liberals have been hammering the conservatives and relatively quiet on progressivism. The disease destroying the economy and liberty is progressivism, not conservatism. Conservatives, for the most part, have let go of social issues and they are concentrating on issues which the country views as imprtant. The moderates and liberals are becoming irrelevant due to petty resentments against conservatives.

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    • @Mike Farmer, In general, I think arguing politics (either in person or on the internet) is a fairly foolish thing — people (myself included) have generally already made up their minds about whatever the subject might happen to be, and are very reluctant to change their views. I would say that’s probably as it should be — if your views can be changed by some random person on a comment board, they probably weren’t very deeply considered to begin with.

      Of course, I do all sorts of foolish things, and arguing politics on the internet is about the least of them. But I have to look at comments like the one above and shake my head. What on earth is the point of arguing with someone who describes a world that I absolutely, fundamentally, 100% do not understand or agree with?

      The world you describe is not the world I live in. The words you use to describe that world do not fit the definition of the words I use. I’ve always been amazed that people get so upset about the ideas of postmodernism and its concept of the subjectivity of views when you can see so clearly the way people make the world around them fit their own personal narratives.

      It would never occur to me to describe “conservatism” as a “disease,” or to imply that it’s “destroying” the economy or liberty, as if any of that meant anything. I consider myself a progressive, which in my mind means that I want to see the world get better, through the most effective means. I want to live my life as free from the encumbrance and dictates of others as possible. But I also want to live in a world where people do not die on the streets, where no one goes hungry, and where everyone has a warm place to sleep, some fun things to do, and a chance to better themselves (and not just materially). If we can do that through higher taxes, I say tax away! But if higher taxes are unproductive, and a different tax structure fits the overall goal of making life better for the most possible people, let’s go with that. Same with regulation. Does this regulation work? It does? Great, let’s do that, then. Is it not working? Why? Let’s modify it and see if the outcomes improve.

      What I don’t do is approach a situation with an established concept that the world must fit to — “least government is the best government.” Perhaps! But then again, maybe not. From where I sit, we already tried the “least government” option, and it was pretty much a disaster for everyone who wasn’t named Morgan, Carnegie and Rockefeller. But when we had high taxes (compared to now) and regulation, things really took off! There are lessons to be learned from that.

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    • @Mike Farmer, Where are these conservatives who’ve let go of social issues, Mike? Because I don’t see too many of them around here – the proposition 8 campaign was not a figment of my imagination. Nor were Meg Whitman’s anti-immigration TV ads. You’ll have to excuse me if Republican candidates largely disingenuous and hypocritical efforts to attract the votes of bigots at the expense of the lives of my friends and relatives bother me quite a bit more than the Disease of Progressivism, whose symptoms I having some trouble recognising.

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        • @Cascadian, Awesome. As a matter of interest, how do you normally vote? I’d personally have a lot of trouble voting for conservative candidates once they start to run to the right to win the primary. Watching the – largely perfectly sane and reasonable – collection of silicon valley execs running for various positions in California pandering to their anti-Mexican, anti-gay “base” over the past few weeks has been positively depressing.

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          • @Simon K, Last election, I voted Paul in the primaries and Barr in the general. Locally, I usually vote the Dem. I like the liberal society in the NW and want to conserve and preserve it. I wish local Republicans would return to NW conservatism epitomised by Tom Mccall but usually their on board with the national/southern ilk which isn’t right for our area.

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  4. Conservatives are bigots who threaten the lives of your friends and relatives? This is what I’m talking about.

    Mostly, conservatives have not stressed the social issues. Social issues have been settled, for the most part. Immigration is an economic and national security issue. Conservatives don’t hate Mexicans, no more than progressives hate Mexicans — I’m sure there are haters everywhere. I’m not defending conservatives, mind you, just saying the hyperbolic attacks are unjustified. The progressive disease has to do with economic idiocy and the violation of individual rights, especially property rights. The progressive ideology is national suicide, and it’s bad for poor people — rich people will find a way to survive, but the poor are at the mercy of the progressive agenda, and there’s no mercy.

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