Monday, August 6, 2007

ABC's Abuse of American Electorate to Be Included in my Curriculum This Fall

I'm sorry to see that ABC News is continuing to abuse the American electorate by not reporting the results of its own poll about who won the ABC Republican debate yesterday morning.

The results of the poll had Ron Paul leading with 18,284 votes, followed by Mitt Romney with 2881, Rudolf Giuliani with 2462, and Mike Huckabee with 1902 (with two "Nobody - I'm waiting for Thompson or Gingrich, or, I'm voting Democratic" in between).

And yet, in ABC's 8-minute "Green Room" analysis after the debate, no mention was made of Ron Paul, even though the moderator specifically mentioned Huckabee coming in 4th in the poll.

What, exactly, is ABC's problem? If they think Ron Paul's supporters are "gaming" the Internet poll, why don't they fix it? Or don't conduct a poll if you lack such confidence in its results that you do not report its results accurately.

This is not first time ABC has acted against the interests of our democracy in the aftermath of its polls. In May, ABC removed comments from Ron Paul's supporters in a discussion of a poll back then in which Ron Paul scored more than 9000 of 11,000 votes.

As I made clear in my letter to ABC about this in May (see below), I'm not even necessarily a Ron Paul supporter (the last and only time I voted for any Republican was for John Lindsay for Mayor of New York City in 1969). But this mistreatment of Ron Paul's candidacy and therefore the American people has got to stop.

As a way of trying to get word out about what ABC News is doing, I'll be adding a section about this in my "Intro to Communication and Media Studies" class that I'll be teaching at Fordham University this Fall. My 120 students, and all the American people, need to know about this.

Paul Levinson, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Communication and Media Studies
Fordham University
New York City

my open letter to ABC in May ...

Open Letter to Did You Remove Comments from Ron Paul Supporters, and If So, Why? - May 9, 2007

Ron Paul is not doing very well in official, scientifically conducted public opinion polls. But he came in first in the quick response poll MSNBC conducted after the Republican Presidential debate last week, and scored 9,400 of 11,000 votes in the poll ABC conducted after the debate.

These kinds of spurts are familiar to anyone who follows online polling. A well organized campaign can easily produce thousands of votes, whether by real people voting or "sock puppets" (people using more than one account to register their votes).

But something else may have happened in ABC's handling of this poll. Stories on Digg and Reddit are claiming that ABC went in and removed numerous comments on its web site from Ron Paul's supporters.

If this is true, the only justification ABC could have for doing that would be if they have proof positive that the comments were bogus - all or most originating from the same IP or same small group of IP addresses, for example.

Otherwise, is guilty of an outrageous, heavy-handed administration of its comment section - so much so that, if the charges are true, ABC owes not only Ron Paul's supporters but the American people an explanation.

I hereby call upon ABC to explain exactly what happened with those comments - if they were indeed removed, why?

Although I support Ron Paul's support of our Constitution, I am not part of his campaign, and indeed have not yet decided whom I will vote for in the general election. Indeed, I'll be voting in the Democratic not Republican primary in New York State.

So I call upon ABC not as a political partisan, but as a citizen and as a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City.

ABC - what's going on with Ron Paul? Did you remove comments from his supporters - and, if so, why?

See also -

More ABC News Distortion to be Included in My Curriculum

and David Wiltse's Sedition: The Play and the Professor

and Newspaper Coverage of Ron Paul in Iowa: B+

and Ron Paul Has Company: Now ABC Crops Out Kucinich, Buries Poll

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