Monday, November 15, 2004

David Brooks has His Own Conspiracy Theory to Explain the Exit Polls

On PBS's Newshour, Jim Lehrer interviews a head of the National Election Pool, which ran the exit polls (with lame, unconvincing explanation as to why they are off). Lehrer then asked Brooks and Sheilds to offer their views. Unbelievably, they offer conspiracy theories on how the exit poll data was manipulated by secret campaigns of Democrats: "I've heard plausible people, serious people say they think there was some conspiracy, that Kerry people were told at certain precincts 'Go talk to this guy'." According to him, this must have been done on a massive scale. Think about it: people guiding Democratic voters in all the states with discrepancies -- Oh wait, the national exit poll was off, so this "conspiracy" was undertaken on a nationwide scale; and in all various manners of precincts (urban, suburban, rural); and on a scale so huge it greatly affected the large sample size the pollsters used.

This is passed off by Brooks as "the most likely explanation." Brooks is goddamn Occam's Razor of reason. How is he writing op-eds for the New York Times? To be fair, Mark Shields offered a conspiracy theory as well, but Brooks elaborated his more.

It's really baffling that the media largely debase genuine concerns of voting irregularities as conspiracy theories unworthy of investigation, but then offer conspiracy theories to debunk those concerns.

This Newshour comment and exchange was posted at the netenvironment blog:

Warren Mitofsky, now Co-Director of the new National Election Pool which has replaced the Voter News Service as the source of election day exit polls, provided variously squirrely and contradictory explanations for how the exit polls could have got the data so "wrong." The main reason he gave for the discrepency: that Kerry voters were more anxious to talk to pollsters than Bush voters.

David Brooks and Mark Shields responded to the report thusly:

JIM LEHRER: David, what did you make of Warren Mitofsky's explanation of what the problem was with the exit polls?

DAVID BROOKS: I think that's the most likely -- that Kerry people wanted to talk to him and Bush didn't. I've heard plausible people, serious people say they think there was some conspiracy, that Kerry people were told at certain precincts "Go talk to this guy." I don't know why you'd do that - why do you rig an exit poll -- but I think that's the most likely explanation.

JIM LEHRER: What do you think?

MARK SHIELDS: I've been told the other thing, that by serious people some of the Bush folks were told "Don't cooperate with the media."

Shields went on (and on), eager to demonstrate his willingness to dance for the man. It really seemed as if they fabricating, or at least fanning, a conspiracy theory designed to distract attention from what could be real voter fraud.... Will we ever know? Brooks continued in this odd exchange w/Lehrer:

DAVID BROOKS: To be fair, Rove sent out e-mails right away saying "this is wrong."

JIM LEHRER: Did he do that.

DAVID BROOKS: I've seen that.

JIM LEHRER: I didn't know that.

DAVID BROOKS: He understood -

JIM LEHRER: All right.


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