Welcome to the Twilight Zone

By Avlon, John | Newsweek, November 19, 2012 | Go to article overview

Welcome to the Twilight Zone


Avlon, John, Newsweek


Byline: John Avlon

How the right-wing media invented a new reality.

Partisan Politics is starting to look like a cult, and after this presidential election, Republicans will

need some serious deprogramming.

The overheated anti-Obama echo chamber on the far right led to a fact-free fanaticism, inspiring otherwise educated folks to ignore most polls in favor of feelgood tall tales about "Mitt-mentum" go-

ing into Election Day.

Among those caught up in the fever

swamp was the architect of George W. Bush's two White House wins, Karl Rove, seen awkwardly on air arguing with Fox News's own pollsters about whether the election was over. The respected co-author of The Almanac of American Politics, Michael Barone, predicted a Romney landslide, as did the poet laureate of conservative columnists, George Will. And these were the adults at the conservative table.

Conspiracy entrepreneurs always peddle special knowledge, and just days before the election Dick Morris was still

shilling on Fox, saying, "Romney will win this election by 5 to 10 points in the popular vote. And will carry more than 300 electoral votes."

In the end, of course, Romney lost the popular vote.

There were plenty of poll aggregators and statisticians (most notably Nate Silver) who rightly predicted the election outcome. So how could so many supposed professionals get it so spectacularly wrong?

"We've seen the rise of polling firms nobody ever heard of, giving us results that nobody should believe," says Democratic strategist and Daily Beast columnist Bob Shrum.

One museum piece of this election is unskewedpolls.com--the website where sample sizes of polls were adjusted to magically put Romney in the lead during his dreary summer campaign. It was an extension of the insidious idea that the mainstream media taint all stats and facts with their own liberal bias, so that only explicitly partisan news sources can be considered truly "fair and balanced." Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once warned: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. …

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