Monday, May 14, 2012

Reuters courts charges of bias

Margot Roosevelt has a Reuters article entitled "Weary Warriors Favor Obama."  It's an article that makes no sense so the most natural explanation would be that the Baltimore Sun chopped up the wire story when running it.  That happens due to space limitations and other reasons.  So go to the original source, Reuters, and you find that the story still doesn't make sense.  There's not a damn thing that can back up the headline.  Here are some hard numbers from the report -- direct quotes:

* Only 32 percent think the war in Iraq ended successfully, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. And far more of them would pull out of Afghanistan than continue military operations there.

**  If the election were held today, Obama would win the veteran vote by as much as seven points over Romney, higher than his margin in the general population.

* Only 24 percent in the Reuters poll said the country is headed in the right direction, with 60 percent saying it is off on the wrong track.

* Asked about Obama's handling of his job, 27 percent of veterans approved, and 37 percent disapproved, with the rest undecided.

Only "**" refers to any thing that might back up the headline and even there they're not citing a poll.  Is it because Reuters-Ipsos is becoming a joke?  Possibly.

Those of us with degrees in the social sciences, especially if we've taken Research & Methods, tend to roll our eyes about "online surveys."  They may show an indication but they're not considered scientific.  That's what Reuters has been moving to (see this article) as they recently noted.

Another reason is, of course, the election's not held today and to make sweeping judgments if large portions of the public are undecided would be not only misleading, it would also be unscientific.  We not only need to know that segment, we need to know the margin of error, we need to know whether these are likely voters, registered voters, etc.

We're not supplied any of that nor are we informed when the poll was taken.  There's no link to a poll -- which is shoddy -- so we have to take Roosevelt's word for it and that's not how you report on a poll.

Especially when the "*" above contradict the "*" -- a detail you're not supposed to notice. Then there's the anecdotal tales Roosevelt shares and none of these personal remarks scream: "I'm voting for Barack." Since that's the thrust of her article, one would assume that if Roosevelt had any quotes to back up the claim of veterans favoring Barack, she would utilize them. 

"I went to war for George Bush.  But we can't keep policing the world."  That's not an endorsement of Barack. In the (one) handful of veterans Roosevelt speaks to in North Carolina, she can't demonstrate some move towards Barack.

In fact, they don't just seem stand-offish, at least one of the less than five veterans quoted makes a statement that would indicate an inclination not to vote for Barack.  44-year-old John Rush is an Iraq War veteran who was injured in a bombing and discharged after his second tour in 2008.  Rush is currently unemployed and had to spend 2008 through 2011 fighting "for the government to approve his paperwork for psychiatric treatment." Two of those years are when Barack's in charge.  It wouldn't be at all surprising for John Rush (and veterans in similar situations) to decide to not vote for Barack or just to not vote.

Equally true, it's way too soon to be making predictions about who veterans will favorable.  What we do know is that when the GOP race started and there was a tiny pretense of fairness in the coverage, Ron Paul got more donations from active duty service members than anyone in the GOP field or Barack Obama.  The reason to bring that up is not just because donations are a concrete measure but also because what's Ron Paul going to do?  He hasn't absolutely a third party run.  I would guess that he would endorse Mitt Romney; however, that would be a guess.  And what his supporters want is for him to run as an independent if he doesn't get the GOP nomination.  That appears very likely at this point.  And in addition to the third party possibility, there's another possibility.  Though not really covered the press, the Romney campaign is aware that Ron Paul produced excitement and he is on the list of potential running mates.  Doesn't he mean he'll get it.  Doesn't mean if he was offered it, he would accept it.

It does mean Reuters had published a lousy article -- one that's not only shoddy but that leaves it open to charges of bias.


Bradley Manning (above) is scheduled to face a court-martial September 21st.  Monday April 5, 2010, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7, 2010, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August 2010 that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." In March, 2011, David S. Cloud (Los Angeles Times) reported that the military has added 22 additional counts to the charges including one that could be seen as "aiding the enemy" which could result in the death penalty if convicted. The Article 32 hearing took place in December.  At the start of this year, there was an Article 32 hearing and, February 3rd, it was announced that the government would be moving forward with a court-martial.  Bradley has yet to enter a plea and has neither affirmed that he is the leaker nor denied it.

Mark Thompson (Time magazine) has an interview with Denver Nicks, author of Private: Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks, and the Biggest Exposure of Official Secrets in American History.  Excerpt.

Pull back the curtain on Manning, and tell us some things we don’t know about him.

There’s no doubt Brad Manning was troubled by his experiences in Iraq and unhappy about aspects of life in the military, but he’s far from anti-military or even anti-war. Early in his deployment to Iraq he mulled over re-enlisting and mused about the attractive notion of attending West Point.
He proudly told a close friend that he was being recruited for the United States Cyber Command, the Pentagon’s then-brand-new cyberwarfare unit based at Fort Meade. He spoke fondly of the prospect of getting experience working alongside the NSA. It seems he was most troubled not by American foreign policy in general or even the Iraq war specifically, but by the secrecy with which they were conducted.
Manning’s fairly straightforward, pro-transparency motivation is uncommon among those who leak information to the press, and gets easily lost in the left-right rhetoric that dominates our public life in the United States.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Barack's Shrinking Stature" went up last night.  On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights), topics exploredinclude the federal government spying on the Occupy movement -- a topic they discuss with attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard,  the Chino Hill murders with J Patrick O'Connor, the late Karen Detamore and a lawsuit against Yelp.

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