Wow! Another MediaGrouch post!
I have been avoiding politics the past couple of weeks. It started with a one day political blackout on 9/11 initiated by my most conservative, and angriest, FaceBook friend. I followed suit and stopped posting, sharing, or commenting on political posts. It has been frustrating keeping my mouth shut when I see something that makes me angry, or sharing my Schadenfreude when I find something deflating the opposition, but mostly it has been liberating.
But here I have no such restrictions. Most of my friends don't read this stuff anyway.
There are three things which I find really interesting right now about the campaign. The first is the rabid conspiracy theorists on the right who are turning on conservative news outlets for reporting actual news. The second is the amazing spin machine working overtime in the Romney camp, and the third is the predictions. All of these are, of course related: the predictions are seen as a conspiracy that must be spun by Romney's people, but they are interesting because they have moved beyond the sublime and into the truly absurd.
This morning on Morning Joe, my favorite conservative news show, Joe Scarborough tore into the conspiracy theorists who were accusing him and his staff of trying to make Mitt Romney look bad in a brief video of a campaign stop. Here is Morning Joe's original coverage.
If you read the virulent comments below you will get an idea of what the Conservative blogsphere is saying about it. Joe Scarborough, who is an out front Romney supporter, one of the most conservative figures on television and a hero of the Gingrich should apparently go to jail for doctoring this tape (these people have obviously never read the constitution no matter what they claim). Ignoring the fact that he has declarted his support for Mitt Romney, and never actually listening to the content of his broadcasts in which he continuously touts conservative economic and political ideas and solutions, they are claiming that Joe Scarborough and his staff doctored the tape to make it look embarrassing to Mitt Romney. The Blaze broadcast it and other blogs picked it up. Dailyrushbo.com called it "The Greatest Catch of All Time" . It did not matter that other outlets reported the same thing. It doesn't matter that the CNN live feed of the rally sounds exactly the same. They ignore the real issue: that it was Romney himself who brought attention to the fact that some in the crowd were chanting his VP's name and not his own. What they see, and what they actually believe, is that MSNBC is doctoring the news to make Romeny look bad and they have accused a conservative icon of leading the way. The truth does not matter. The facts do not matter. This story is out there in the blogsphere and millions of people believe it. Don't get the idea that I'm saying this phenomenon is limited to Republicans. There is propoganda and idiots on both sides of the aisle. But it has reached absurd proportions on the right because their guy is losing and they so completely hate President Obama that they can't stand anything that might be critical of Mitt Romney. The result of all of this is that Scarborough, whom I have never really liked because of his radio show and the horrible things he has said about people on the left (like me), is starting to look like the model for Will McAvoy, the hero of Aaron Sorkin's new series The Newsroom: a news anchor who tries to break out of the tabloid mold and ends up telling the truth about his own party, and gets attacked from the right as a shill for the liberal media. I never saw that coming.
Of course the spin coming from Romney is rough. Their guy is down int he polls. They have locked onto the conspiracy rats spin, that the polls are all liberally biased and don't show the truth: that Romney is winning in almost every state. The idea behind this is that, in the polls, more people identified themselves as democrats than as republicans. Of course the republican spin ends up begging the question. The polls showing more people are planing to vote democratic are biased because more people say they are planning to vote democratic. It is pathetic, but the Romeny campaign and many conservatives have picked up on it as a way to explain away the fact that their campaign is going nowhere. I swear, every time I open up my web browser I read another disgusting political lie from the right, and I wonder ow these people can possibly exist in an otherwise sane and just world.
But that leads us to predictions. I expect MSNBC's prediction to lean Mr. Obama's way. Joe Scarborough and Michael Steele aside, they work from a pretty clear pro-Obama stance, and are constantly cirtical of the right. They can report the same numbers as everybody else, will likely put a shiny face on things for Mr. Obama. Toss up states will lean his way, for instance. They won't report the margin of error on states that are close. But they are not only reporting their own numbers, but those from Rasmussen and Gallop, which lean conservative, and which also show Mr. Obama well ahead in several swing states. It is telling that FOX, which is as right leaning as MSNBC is left leaning, is reporting the same poll results--even from their own polls (this has prompted some in the blogsphere to declare that even FOX news is part of the liberal media conspiracy). However, there are a lot of great predictors out there. For Instance, in a story that was carried even on HuffPo, a rather reliable economic model out of University of Colorado predicted a Mitt Romney victory. Most models predict an Obama victory. I am not sure anythign is set in stone right now. Tehre are still ways this race could tighten up, and if voter suppression efforts in Florida and Ohio work, Romney could well win even now. But it looking into the wisdom of crowd sourcing, I came upon what might be the most interesting predictor out there: the Intrade Prediction Market forecasts the election results based on the betting line, on who is wagering money online as to which candidate will win which state. It is probably as good a predictor as any. They have Obama winning with 332 electoral votes.
Nothing matters until November, of course, but here is my prediction: if Mr. Obama wins you will see the rending of garments and the pulling out of hair. Several tea partiers will suddenly appear in white cassocks marching along the capital mall, sure that the end days have reached us. Glen Beck will weep for America. Several Christians will immolate themselves in front of the Chicago Board of Trade. Ted Nugent will blow his head off in an act of despair. And Rush Limbaugh will growl, laugh and continue to make millions of dollars spreading lies about the liberal threat to America because that is how he makes his living. Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter too. Like Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, and Stephen Colbert on the left, they are immune.