May 1 2008

Letters to the Editor

Polls Apart

Peter Hart’s excellent article (Extra! Update, 2/08) on the over-reliance by political pundits on polls missed only the follow-up: Despite the polls having been grossly incorrect in New Hampshire, and again and again repeatedly in

subsequent primaries, the overemphasis on polls has remained undiminished! The pundits hadn’t even caught their breath talking about the inaccurate New Hampshire polls before they started touting the next round.

As Bill Kristol has demonstrated so powerfully, an almost unblemished record of inaccuracy is no impediment to continued employment in the media, as long as the message is the “right” one.

Eli Stephens

Left I on the News

Cupertino, Calif.

I just received the February 2008 issue of Extra! Update, and I am very unhappy with the front-page story. If we had decent newspapers and television news programs instead of corporate Pravda, the front-page news would be voting machine fraud, month after month, until it wasn’t a problem anymore. With many election officials in bed with the election machine companies and the ethical election officials often getting pushed out of office (J.R. Perez of Fort Bend County in Texas is the latest), there isn’t much in the way of measuring the extent of the problem except for the polls.

Granted, the polls themselves have varying degrees of accuracy (witness the Gallup poll’s merging of exit poll data with the voting results themselves), but the first thing that comes to mind when the election results don’t match the polls should not be how heavily the media is leaning on the polls.

Fairness and accuracy in reporting is, in my opinion, the second-most important issue in the United States—more important than the Iraq War. But, without a doubt, election machine fraud is far and away the No. 1 issue, because if corporations can select candidates for elections, then they will have an inordinate amount of say over media consolidation.

Craig Howland

Fremont, Calif.

The Anointing of Hillary Clinton

Thank you for the article on the mainstream media’s coverage of the John Edwards campaign (Extra! Update, 2/08). I have followed this closely, as a former journalist and Edwards supporter.

I think the real problem began much earlier, in late 2006/early 2007, when the New York Times essentially anointed Hillary Clinton as the front-runner. There was continued reference in the Times to Clinton as the presumed nominee before any polls had ever been taken. Then, eventually, they called Obama her “chief rival,” which still made it sound as if she was the presumed nominee, only now there was someone else in the race. . . . All the while, polls were showing Edwards stronger in a general election match-up with the various Republican candidates.

Of course, other early media portrayals just piggybacked on what the Times was saying, and it mushroomed outward from there. The blinders of the New York Times in this case may have been influenced by ideology. But could it also just be that Senator Clinton is the senator from New York?

Janet L. Groat

Portsmouth, N.H.

Not a Think Tank

I read FAIR’s annual survey of think tank citations, and wanted to correct some inaccuracies for your future reports that include the Center for Public Integrity.

In the May/June 2006 issue of Extra!, “Study Finds First Drop in Think Tank Cites,” the Center is described as “monitoring campaign contributions,” which we do not do. First and foremost, the Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, nonadvocacy organization dedicated to producing original, investigative journalism on significant issues of public concern to make institutional power more transparent and accountable.

Regarding the monitoring of campaign contributions, the Center has for specific projects included campaign contributions as they relate to one-time released projects, but we do not monitor campaign contributions, and only a few select projects include this as a topic. The Center works on dozens of issues: telecom, state and federal lobbying, state legislative/executive personal financial disclosure, the environment, campaign consultants, federal contracting and other significant public policy issues.

The Center is not a think tank. The Center is an investigative journalism organization that publicly posts its work on our website and disseminates its investigative reports, databases and contextual analysis to journalists, policymakers, scholars and citizens using a combination of video, electronic and print media. We do not and have never editorialized, endorsed legislation, or advocated any political issues or policy positions.

Steve Carpinelli

Media Relations Manager

Center for Public Integrity

Washington, D.C.

Marxists for Free Speech

I disagree with the comment in the SoundBites section of

the latest issue of Extra! (1-2/08) saying that Marxists do not support civil liberties. American Communist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was on the board of the ACLU for many years, and Marxist writer Corliss Lamont was the head of the Emergency Civil Liberties Union during the McCarthy Era. If you search the website Marx2Mao, you can find many statements supporting civil liberties by Marx, Lenin and Mao. The book Human Rights and the Soviet Union by Albert Szymanski details the Marxist theory of civil liberties.

Sean Mulligan

Alpharetta, Georgia


The chart accompanying the Think Tank Survey in the March/April 2008 issue of Extra! was missing a negative sign before the rate of growth for citations of the Brookings Institution; it should have indicated that the group’s citations had declined by 7 percent.