The Lonely Centrist

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Unrepresentative Information: Lies About HR 1606

House Bill HR 1606, the On Line Freedom of Speech Act, is going to committee today. It is under withering, and fundamentally dishonest, assault, from campaign finance "reformers," as explained here and here.

This brings to mind an article called to my attention a while back, a piece in Public Opinion Quarterly by Stephen Ansolabehere, Erik Snowberg, and James Snyder of MIT, titled, "Unrepresentative Information."
From the abstract:
We compile all stories from the five largest circulation newspapers in the United States that mention a dollar amount for campaign expenditures, contributions, or receipts from 1996 to 2000. We compare these figures to those recorded by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The average figures reported in newspapers exceed the figures from the FEC by as much as eightfold. Press reports also focus excessively on corporate contributions and soft money, rather than on the more common types of donors—individual—and types of contributions—hard money. We further find that these biases are reflected in public perceptions of money in elections. Survey respondents overstate the amount of money raised and the share from different groups by roughly the amount found in newspapers, and better-educated people (those most likely to read newspapers) showed the greatest discrepancy between their beliefs and the facts.

Why is this so? It's because the "reform" groups are dishonest with the press, and the lamebrains at the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal (news pages), Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post - the five papers in question - are too lazy or stupid to question them.

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