Monday, November 12, 2012

On politics, Miami Herald has some explaining to do ... by gimleteye

Miami Herald reporters are a sharp bunch. Maybe not. Every now and again -- on very important stories -- the Herald shows itself to readers as a paper puppet to larger powers and forces.

Take the insider piggy-bank, US Century Bank for example, where the other day a Herald news report was cribbed from South Florida Business Daily that has had the guts to take on the biggest source of public corruption in Miami-Dade County. Who is protecting US Century Bank, because the bank should have been closed down by the feds long, long ago?

We will never know from the Herald, because Herald executives, past and perhaps present, have strong bonds to the interests and lobbyists who represent and to shareholders of the most corrupt little bank in Florida. (Brian Bandell deserves recognition for excellent reporting on the US Century Bank disaster that the Miami Herald won't. But to get the full scope of that disaster, readers would do better to consult our archives.)

Of the Herald's sins of commission and omission, one startling example was putting on the front page before the recent election a Mason-Dixon poll. It is well known that Mason Dixon is favored by GOP candidates and funders.

The Marc Caputo report of the poll showed Romney up by six points. It certainly raised some eyebrows, given that the Herald had written a strong endorsement of President Obama. Who was at the editorial gate house, allowing a partisan pollster to the head of the line?

In the Nov. 2nd story, Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker said, "The debate was the tipping point." On the Herald political blog and in a story last week, Caputo and then the Times tried to dismiss the error: "(Brad Coker) said the shift was not caused by polling error, but because Obama moved the needle with his handling of Hurricane Sandy."

But the needle didn't move. On Nov. 2nd, Caputo wrote as fact: "Obama’s numbers nose-dived with Hispanics, independents and women. Obama was already on unsteady ground in Florida, where unemployment and home foreclosure rates are higher than the national average." Ouch! What moved was The Miami Herald.

Mitt Romney has maintained a solid lead over President Barack Obama in the latest Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll of likely voters who favor the Republican by six percentage points.

Romney’s strengths: independent voters and more crossover support from Democrats relative to the Republicans who back Obama, according to the survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

Romney’s crossover appeal is fueled by strong support in rural North Florida, a conservative bastion where a relatively high percentage of Democrats often vote Republican in presidential election years.

“I’m pretty convinced Romney’s going to win Florida,” said Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker, who conducted the 800-likely voter survey from Tuesday through Thursday.

“Will it be fivepoints? Maybe. Will it be three points? Possibly,” Coker said, of what he expects Romney’s margin will be. “I don’t think it’s going to be a recount … I don’t think we’re going to have a recount-race here.”
No: we couldn't count in the first place thanks to the GOP.

Credit the New York Times FiveThirtyEight Blog by Nate Silver for doing the work of analyzing the pollsters: "... polls that were Republican-leaning relative to the consensus did especially poorlt." Like Mason-Dixon for example.

In its Nov. 2 report, The Miami Herald editors ought to have pointed out that the Mason-Dixon poll was a statistical outlier. Instead, Caputo's famous ending will stand: "“Romney’s painting the bigger picture, the broader long-term — as Bush used to call it, ‘the vision thing,’"Coker said. “Whereas Obama’s basically down here just preaching to the choir and trying to get them excited." Uh, not exactly.

Read more here:


Anonymous said...

The US Century story is such a tail of insider politics in Miami Dade and the Herald seems to hide from the story, or even bury it somewhere in the back pages.

Why would anyone not want to know how a bank run by non bankers and development interests run by plumbers & grocers catapulted so high during the boom, their sheer incompetence and greed drove the local economy in to a depression.

I don't think Florida is dumb. I don't think this county is dumb. I think we probably have the smallest brain trust on the Miami Dade County BCC and their IQ's collectively don't equal much. When the driving engine is "get rich quick" which seems to be the motive for a lot of local politicians (not all, but a good deal of them) this is what happens.

When a local blog has to call out the bad guys because the local paper won't, it's even worse and more corrupt.

As to the polls, I ignored them months ago and did so through the elections! A pretty interesting thought though is I think Obama should send both Bush bothers thank you notes for not enforcing immigration policy during both of their administrations and then Jeb carrying around his man crush Rubio, who we all know locally has slime just oozing off of him! However, that's a story for a different day, but that's how the Hispanic (non cuban) population exploded in it's simplest form. And, it worked against the GOP! The irony.....

Anonymous said...

Need a gutsy columnist AT the Herald to address the Herald weirdness with contracting Mason Dixon in the first place and then letting Caputo run away with it, despite the contrary information out there. Calling Jim Defede back to the Herald!

Anonymous said...

Why do Herald editors get away with Caputo's flipping from reporting to editorializing in his own reports? Maybe he could try his hand at fiction.

South Florida Lawyers said...

Caputo's insistence on what he perceives to be "even-handedness" leads him in all sorts of weird directions.

When the first few days of early voting led to long lines and intolerable waits, Caputo took me to task on Twitter for suggesting the lines were four hours when they were only three!

He also suggested Obama bus people to less populated early voting sites -- as if that is an acceptable price to pay to exercise our right to vote.

The waits soon exceeded 6+ hours, as we all know -- good instincts, Marc!

C.L. said...

The Mason Dixon poll run on the front page of the Herald should have had the political disclaimer, "Paid Political advertisement" underneath, as it was clearly nothing more than their way of seeking forgiveness of the RNC for having endorsed Obama. How could you not see that, it's as plain as the nose on your face! Caputo has lost all credibility in this town.

Anonymous said...

Forgiveness? Well, there certainly is a conversation that goes on at high levels between Herald executives and community "leaders" about fair and balanced. You think no one called them to complain about the Obama endorsement? Of course that happened. Did that mean the Herald executives wanted to the report of the Mason-Dixon poll to satisfy conservative advertisers? Did they let Caputo have enough rope to hang his journalistic credibility? Whether they wanted to or not it happened.

Anonymous said...

You come across like a simpleton. When the poll was taken (Oct 30-Nov 1), Romney could have easily been up 5 points. Then the tide turned with Hurricane Sandy. If the Herald had the same 5 pt gap in an election day poll, you might have a point. Otherwise you just sound silly. A poll is just a snapshot in a fluid political environment.

Anonymous said...

Sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

Mason Dixon may be GOP oriented, but no more than PPP is Democrat oriented. Rasmussen is also very consistant, very reliable, and also GOP oriented, and is the one I trust because their final numbers are usually the best. Nate Silver had them all beat with his modeling of all these polls. I agree the first debate radically shifted the polls to Romney, but then the Obama attack machine and Hurricane Sandy flipped it back, and Obama's superior ground game finished it off on Election Day. The polls were very fluid this cycle. That's not an indictment of the pollsters. And final polls are still not predictions, especially when one there is one last surge/collapse at the very end.

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