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A Short Way to Tipper-Bashing

An unreliable poll and an anonymous source are all NewsMax needs to go after Tipper Gore.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/21/2002

Looking for the NewsMax approach to news in a nice, neat package? Its coverage of one recent story encapsulates it quite succinctly.

Reports that Tipper Gore was considering running for a Senate seat from Tennessee sent NewsMax into a tizzy looking for a way to attack her, because that's what NewsMax does. They found it, and duly reported it in a March 16 story: an opt-in poll suggesting that "Americans would like to see two other former executive branch spouses make the run before Mrs. Gore, including Marilyn Quayle."

NewsMax, of course, doesn't call it an opt-in poll, using the more euphemistic term "self-selecting poll" instead. By any name, though, opt-in polls are unreliable to the point of being meaningless since they can be so easily skewed by groups of people voting to make a statement, as the folks at Free Republic have demonstrated over the years. Additionally, some "self-selecting" polls permit multiple votes by a single person. Conservatives generally have no problem with this kind of "freeping," at least until non-conservatives do it.

"Mrs. Gore's poor showing would no doubt improve in more 'scientific' surveys conducted for left-leaning media outlets among people who don't generally vote," the story adds, forgetting that "scientific" surveys have one advantage over opt-in surveys: they can't be freeped.

(Speaking of the freepers: That article appeared on Free Republic shortly after it did on NewsMax. That's not unusual, but look at the thread again to see who posted it there: "Carl/NewsMax." That's right -- it would appear that Carl Limbacher posted it himself. He obviously must be proud of this misleading little article. We'd complain about shameless gloryhounding, but it just looks more than a little pathetic, especially when you consider he didn't need to do it -- someone else had posted his article at Free Republic about 45 minutes earlier.)

NewsMax has touted bogus polls before, running the results of another opt-in poll as news during the 2000 Florida election mess.

Three days later, NewsMax managed to dredge up one more slam, by shouting "the idea of a Tipper Gore bid for the U.S. Senate was never really serious, having more to do with her husband's ambition then anything else."

The source: Anonymous "insiders" allegedly quoted by United Press International (the formerly prestigious news service now owned by the Unification Church). That's all NewsMax needs to unload on the Gores yet again: "But of course. Why would Beltway Al's long-ago home state elect his wife when it had enough sense to keep him out of the White House?"

The fact that such a story is speculative and pretty much unverifiable is moot here. Heck, even the writer of the UPI story -- actually just a short blurb among several in an package called "Capitol Comment" -- is anonymous. But it serves NewsMax's purpose to attack the Gores, which will do in a pinch when its bitter well of Clinton attacks runs temporarily dry.

That's how NewsMax works, folks: promoting unreliable poll results as news and promoting anonymous sources as credible in the middle of a partisan attack. There are a lot of things to call this, but "journalism" isn't one of them.

But you knew that already.

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