Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Deseret News' Overt Bias

John McCain won Utah 62-34%. This is not good for Democrats, but as noted earlier, it is an improvement. So about one third of Utahns chose Pres. Obama. About four months later, and about two months after he took office, 51% of Utahns now approve of the job Pres. Obama is doing. They are not apples to apples, but that is 17% increase for Obama in Utah.

I would have guessed, in a state that has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964, and it has never really been close in that time, that Pres. Obama would be happy with a 34% approval rating in Utah. It would have really seemed greedy to ask for much more than 40%. But here is a poll that shows over half of Utahns approve the job he is doing.

In contrast, Pres. Obama garnered 53% of the popular vote nationwide and has an approval rating hovering around 60%, which is about a 7% increase. So his rise in approval in Utah outpaces the country as a whole, which of course has a lot to do with how low he started in Utah.

So how does the Deseret News report this fairly astonishing news?
Maybe it's the sign of the times, or just greater partisanship today than in 2001, but Democratic President Barack Obama starts his presidency with a much lower job approval rating among Utahns than did Republican George W. Bush eight years ago.
Okay. Comparing the favorability of a conservative president to a liberal president in arguably the most conservative state in the country seems ridiculous, especially the numbers of the conservative president before he became the most unpopular president since Truman (that includes Nixon!) because of his disastrous policies which knee-capped the economy and our foreign policy. But, okay, let's see where they're going with this.
A new poll for the Deseret News and KSL-TV by Dan Jones & Associates finds that only 51 percent of Utahns approve of the job Obama is doing.
Only? A liberal democrat has over 50% approval in ultra-conservative Utah and DNews says only? This is crazy.
And half of all Utahns don't like the Obama/Congress measures to stimulate the economy, Jones found.
But half do! That is amazing, why report it so negatively? And this isn't just some throw-away issue, this is the defining issue of his presidency and by far the most important issue to the nation. After some down-played caveats that can't be that important to the analysis like, Utah is ultra-conservative, Obama did do better than Kerry, and other unimportant things:
Even so, only 60 percent of Salt Lake County residents approve of the job Obama is doing, Jones found in a survey conducted last week of 400 adults statewide.
ONLY?! Salt Lake County barely, just barely, went for Pres. Obama over McCain. The suburbs, which make up the large majority of the county, are still conservative. Pres. Obama's job approval rating in Utah's most populous and influential county are affirmatively extremely impressive, particularly given the dynamics, and the DNews trips all over itself to make sure to down-play it as much as possible. This is not journalism.
Of course, Obama is facing tougher economic times than did Bush eight years ago — a recession the worst since the Great Depression with rising unemployment, business failures and home foreclosures.
But that doesn't really matter, does it?
Obama's 51 percent approval rating in Utah is about 10 percentage points below his approval ratings found in national surveys conducted over the last several weeks, according to
That's more like it. Let's make absolute sure to cast this in the most negative light possible. How about Congress?
And Utah's 34 percent approval rating for Congress also is a lower number than measured nationally. reports a 39 percent congressional approval rating recorded nationally in a March 5 Gallup poll, and a 36 percent approval rating in a National Public Radio survey earlier this month.
Gasp! A full 2% lower number? From the most conservative state in the country? Shouldn't we, instead of touting how low these numbers are, actually show surprise at how high they are? This is bush league reporting that does not reflect the realities of Utah at all. It shows no critically thinking. It is clearly just written to further the DNews' conservative agenda and it is pathetic.


Andrew said...

It's a nice trick they're playing, pretending that Utah is politically just like the rest of the nation. Local newspapers ought to be more aware of their local political dynamics (and, to an extent, regional political dynamics). Perhaps its time for a letter-writing campaign to remind them about the interests of their readers? I don't see an omnibudsman listed on their "contact us" page, perhaps it's time to let Mr. Cannon know what his duty should be.

Steve M. said...

Great write-up. That 51% of Utahans approve of President Obama is HUGE, in my opinion.

peter said...

I'll agree that the Deseret News probably has a bias, but that seems to be a norm for many newspapers and stations right now (including several major networks.) I wish it were different, but it seems that no one can report news without spin. Luckily for you, most of the bias (outside the deseret news) seems to go toward the liberals.


Josh said...

Here's a poll for you. It comes from what I consider to be the seocnd most liberal biased news agency in the Country, MSNBC.

Over 50% D's and F's and only 30% A's. I suppose MSNBC, and it's readers, are bias now too, right. Maybe it's because he's black...maybe NOT!

Josh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh said...

This one is even better. Updated daily, and has a nifty little graph. He can't even get 40% of the nation, and you want 40% of Utah?

Andrew, the duty of the newspaper should be to portray the truth. You liberals have come to believe that the news should always be reported your way, because it normally is. Letter writing campaign? LOL Good luck!

Jacob S. said...

Josh, first of all, online polls are less than worthless. You can gain exactly zero information from them. A's, D's, whatever. Worthless information. The second poll you cited had less than 40% that strongly approve. All the people that approve total is 56%. So you conveniently forgot a big old group of people that approve.

You can go to and see all legitimate polls aggregated and see that Obama has a 62% approval rating. Conservatives are failing miserably since Obama took over.

I have no idea what race has to do with anything, but keep playing that up.

You obviously didn't read the post carefully. Obama did get over 40% approval in Utah. In fact he got over 50% in Utah. Utah is the most conservative state in the country. The fact that his approval is so high here is a huge deal, and the DNews played it like a disappointment for Obama. That is poor journalism.

Liberal media bias is one of these made up issues to galvanize the right. Both sides use vilification media to unify their bases. The left used it when Clinton was in office and are using it now. The right used it during the Bush years.

peter said...

So conservative media bias (as you claim is evidenced by the Deseret News) is real and a travesty but liberal media bias is made up and only a tactic to galvanize conservatives? You've got to be kidding!

The type of bias you have blogged about happens regularly in favor of liberal causes and issues. I've seen and heard it. It's all in the wording or they way they lead the news, or what stories they opt to run, but the bias is there and is extremely frustrating. To claim otherwise is either naive or ignorant.

Jacob S. said...

I did not say that some liberal media bias does not exist. What I said (or tried to say) was that the paranoid claim by the right (almost exclusively from the right since Bush took office) that the entire mainstream media was biased toward the left is merely a political ploy. And an effective political ploy seeing as how the left has used it against the right as well in the past. So I don't believe I am either ignorant or naive.

I'm more than happy to admit that some media outlets are biased, and in doing so will feel free criticize media outlets for such overt bias against the left. The reason I wrote this post is because it was particularly overt. I overlook bias all the time, but this was pretty egregious in my mind.

Randall said...

So I actually know one of these people personally, how interesting. This will be an interesting experience if you are open to a dialogue on these questions. If so you will challenge my presumption that the left is interested primarily in silencing dissent.

I am not going to explore this question in great depth at this time, but I am going to plant the seed with this. Skousen outlines the difference between the United Order, and Socialism. This subject is a large topic and moves beyond the scope of this communication. In summary, however, any act of benevolence ( effective or ineffective which most of the welfare state is ) must, must, MUST not be compulsory. The act of forcibly removing resources from one person and transferring them to another is, to put it in simple terms, Satan's plan. It is Satan's plan whenever someone makes lofty speeches about being generous and compassionate with someone else's money. At the moment when resources are forced from the hand of the giver he robs from the giver the opportunity to be generous, turns the benefactor into a thief, and the agent of the transfer an extorsionist.

I look forward to your future elucidations. I hope you have the courage to have them challenged.

Randy Lewis

Josh said...

Wow, um, Jake, even when I was offensive in my first response to you, some time back, I hope it didn't sound like Randall's just did. Questioning someone's courage, over whether or not to debate an issue or two, on the internet, no less, is pretty offensive.

Jacob S. said...


I'm always glad to debate the issues and I never debate with a closed mind. I don't think it has anything to do with courage, just hashing out our ideas and beliefs.

I addressed the Democrats-as-Satanists issue here:

The upshot, though, is that in a democracy the majority can decide (or, has the agency to decide) to spend its tax dollars in any way it thinks is best for the society in general. Your agency comes at the ballot box. Since majority rules this means that if I am in the minority I will necessarily have to do, or refrain from doing, some things that I want. My agency is therefore limited because of the consequences attached. But that is the nature of democracy.

I don't recall Mormon liberals complaining that conservatives were espousing Satan's plan because they used my tax dollars to fund an unjustified war that I opposed, for instance. We didn't like it, we protested, and we convinced a large majority of Americans we were right and, as a result, we exercised our agency to change the country's direction.

In any case, Satan became Satan and was cast out because he wanted to take away our ability to genuinely progress spiritually and he wanted God's glory and position, which have little or nothing to do with our country's tax system.

Randall said...

Money Speech

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

"When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears not all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor--your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?

"Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions--and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

"But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made--before it can be looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.'

"To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss--the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery--that you must offer them values, not wounds--that the common bond among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade--with reason, not force, as their final arbiter--it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability--and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil?

"But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. Money is the scourge of the men who attempt to reverse the law of causality--the men who seek to replace the mind by seizing the products of the mind.

"Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he's evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he's evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and the frauds come flocking to him, drawn by a law which he has not discovered: that no man may be smaller than his money. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth--the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune. Money is a living power that dies without its root. Money will not serve the mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

"Money is your means of survival. The verdict you pronounce upon the source of your livelihood is the verdict you pronounce upon your life. If the source is corrupt, you have damned your own existence. Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men's vices or men's stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment's or a penny's worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you'll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect? Evil, because it would not let you enjoy your depravity? Is this the root of your hatred of money?

"Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

"Or did you say it's the love of money that's the root of all evil? To love a thing is to know and love its nature. To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men. It's the person who would sell his soul for a nickel, who is loudest in proclaiming his hatred of money--and he has good reason to hate it. The lovers of money are willing to work for it. They know they are able to deserve it.

"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another--their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

"But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich--will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt--and of his life, as he deserves.

"Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard--the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money--the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law--men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims--then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion--when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing--when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors--when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you--when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice--you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that is does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.

"Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked, 'Account overdrawn.'

"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world? You are.

"You stand in the midst of the greatest achievements of the greatest productive civilization and you wonder why it's crumbling around you, while you're damning its life-blood--money. You look upon money as the savages did before you, and you wonder why the jungle is creeping back to the edge of your cities. Throughout men's history, money was always seized by looters of one brand or another, whose names changed, but whose method remained the same: to seize wealth by force and to keep the producers bound, demeaned, defamed, deprived of honor. That phrase about the evil of money, which you mouth with such righteous recklessness, comes from a time when wealth was produced by the labor of slaves--slaves who repeated the motions once discovered by somebody's mind and left unimproved for centuries. So long as production was ruled by force, and wealth was obtained by conquest, there was little to conquer, Yet through all the centuries of stagnation and starvation, men exalted the looters, as aristocrats of the sword, as aristocrats of birth, as aristocrats of the bureau, and despised the producers, as slaves, as traders, as shopkeepers--as industrialists.

"To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money--and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being--the self-made man--the American industrialist.

"If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose--because it contains all the others--the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money.' No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity--to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted or obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.

"Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide-- as, I think, he will.

"Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other--and your time is running out."

Randall said...

It is simply true that in a democracy the majority can ennact any law it chooses and impose its will on the minority.

That fact does not excuse or free us from the debate about what the government should do, or what is the appropriate or even moral role of government.

Your example of the government funding a war that you do not support is an interesting one. Certainly not every person has supported every military ambition of the United States.

It is certainly in the charter of any nation to assemble an army and defend itself from its enemies. The question about whether that particular conflict was wise in interesting and irrelevant to the question of the role of government.

Government spending money on a war is a different action than transferring wealth from one party to distribute it to another. In the second case the government is acting in compassion, moving resources from one person to another.

The example is fails because it is not the same for a government to tax its people to support its military and its own expenses ( whether they be wise or not ) or to use its power to move resources away from some of its citizens and towards others.

The morality of using the power of the mob to take money from the few, must be argued on its own supposition.


Randall said...

If were going to play, lets play.



Jacob S. said...

I was responding to the notion that when the government uses my money for a purpose with which I disagree, that is tantamount to Satan's plan of removing my agency. It does not matter where the money is going, so long as I am not able to spend it how I please. It could be welfare, war, or infrastructure. And yet the argument only seems to surface when discussing welfare, when in reality any government spending of "my money" has the same result: I can't decide how to spend it myself.

My response was that we do have a choice and it is not an enactment Satan's plan. It does not follow that this gives free reign to the government to use tax money for any purpose, good or evil.

I would argue that any government spending, especially on wars, is still a redistribution of wealth. The car drivers pay taxes that are redistributed to the users of public transportation and vice versa. The childless pay taxes to support schools for those with children. The money spent on war goes to lucrative defense contracts. The money spent on Iraq was to keep the era of cheap oil going forward. Its all redistribution.

But if the amount of money a person makes is really an accurate barometer for measuring their worth to society, meaning that everyone has the exact amount of money they deserve, then whole system would be a fraud. But who is worth more to society: A derivatives trader or a public school teacher? A CEO of a failing car company or a garbage man? The latter both times. The market hasn't properly valued work and skill in our country, so we have the government come in. An imperfect choice, to be sure, but at least reactionary.

Randall said...

At last we come to the point of essential disagreement. That last paragraph of yours could literally have been taken from the communist manifesto. That is not a crticisim, per se, but it is certainly an accurate represenation of your statement.

You state essentially

1. That all government spending is economic redistribution.
2. That the market is not a valid tool for determining compensation and that it is appropriate for the government to establish it.

That isn't even progressivism, its simple socialism.

If I printed your statement and gave it to 100 political science professors, 98 percent would describe it accordingly.

So there is no reason to dance around the question. This argument has been experimented with all through the 20th century. I would say the only thing it has succeeded at is in transferring power to the few arrogant people who proclaim themselves the arbiters of who should get what.

Classic animal farm again and again.

There are several concepts of "left" worthy of exploration.

1. Left as a description of twentieth century political American progressivism starting with Wilson through FDR and Johnson

2. Left as a partisan democrat

3. Left as intermational socialist

4. Left as the other side in the culture war of the secular humanists vs. the Christians. The intellectual movement which has at its foundation Darwin and which is at its core athiestic. The left of abortion, eugenics, the sexual revolution, and drug legalization.

I am curious which of these "left" connotations you are referring to in your reference.

This is a pleasant debate I hope it is for you as well.

Best Wishes,


Jacob S. said...

So anyone that points out that the market does not perfectly compensate all members of society is now a communist? I find that type of sensationalism is what drives down political discourse in our country. I have never advocated complete income parity, dictatorships, or government control of all private property. So lets not start with the communism stuff. A progressive tax system and some social programs that attempt to lift parts of society out of poverty are hardly communist or socialist. Even conservative thinkers and leaders have advocated and enacted such policies for decades. American Liberalism is no more socialist/communist than American Conservatism is nationalistic/fascist.

So are you saying that you agree that a derivatives trader or stock broker should be making exponentially more money that school teachers or nurses? Has the market got that right?

Now, you know as well as I do that it is too simplistic to simply put up a list of political categories and ask which one describes a certain person. There is a long continuum of political thought and each person is just a point along that continuum. I think, generally, that anyone that blindly and wholeheartedly agrees with every plank of a political party's platform probably hasn't thought through the issues hard enough.

Jacob S. said...

Oh, and I always enjoy this type of debate and one thing I never want to do is offend someone personally, so I hope to avoid that. But conversations like this is why I started this little blog in the first place.

Jacob S. said...

One last thing, I started a new thread up at the top of the page here:

Since this one is taking place in an unrelated and two week old post about the DesNews.