Media FAIL: Lies, damned lies and New York Times

The New York Times dropped a piece over the weekend titled "Small Donors Are Slow to Return to the Obama Fold," with the title being self-explanatory of the claim. So how does the Times' Nicholas Confessore justify his headline? Interviews. That's right. Not a scientific or a statistical analysis of the data donors or donation amounts to the president's re-election campaign but interviews. Interviews reinforcing professional Left talking points that 2008 supporters of the President are oh-so-disappointed and are not giving him any money.
But in recent months, the frustration and disillusionment that have dragged down Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have crept into the ranks of his vaunted small-donor army, underscoring the challenges he faces as he seeks to rekindle grass-roots enthusiasm for his re-election bid.

In interviews with dozens of low-dollar contributors in the past two weeks, some said they were unhappy with what they viewed as Mr. Obama’s overly conciliatory approach to Congressional Republicans. Others cited what they saw as a lack of passion in the president, or said the sour economy had drained both their enthusiasm and their pocketbooks.
He does this, even as he admits, making a satire of himself, that the president's re-election campaign, as of June, had amassed over 552,000 individual donors, 260,000 of them brand new to the Obama campaign, with an average donation of $88 and 98% of donors giving under $250. But hey, why look at the real numbers when you can base your headline on a few interviews and soundbites? This is, after all, the age of sensational, rather than evidence-based, journalism, isn't it?

Mr. Confessore not only mistakes anecdotal data for statistical evidence, he also goes on to commit one of the worst blunders of numeric analysis: comparing data at different points in the campaign.
Through June 30, the close of the most recent campaign reporting period, more than 552,000 people had contributed to Mr. Obama’s re-election effort, according to campaign officials. Half of them were new donors, and nearly all of them gave contributions of less than $250.

But those figures obscured another statistic: a vast majority of Mr. Obama’s past donors, who number close to four million, have not yet given him any money at all.
Right, because all of the president's 4 million donors in 2008 had already given to him by a year and half before the election in 2008. Luckily, that data is available. At a similar point in his presidential campaign in 2007, Barack Obama had 250,000 contributors, still an impressive number. This time around, the number has more than doubled, and the number of new donors has by itself eclipsed the number of total donors at this point in 2007. So if that can be linearly projected, we are looking at a total of nearly 10 million contributors to the president's campaign when all is said and done about this election.

But hey, don't let that distract you from the stupid narrative of how small donors are abandoning Obama. Evidence? You don't need no stinkin' evidence! All you need are some Professional Left whining points, print some grumbling from a few people in the first few paragraphs of your article, and claim that small donors are "slow" to return to the Obama fold. After all, how else would these hair-on-fire blogtastic whiners hang onto something for the day and claim victory?

A journalist working for the the newspaper of record in the United States should know the difference between anecdotal interviews and statistical evidence. He should be able to separate the two, and report what the data, not a few interviews, supports. I guess "Obama's fundraising proceeds at twice the pace of 2008 campaign" doesn't have quite the smack of the "Small donors turn away from Obama" meme. But it's the truth. And I don't know, but I think that some of us feel like it's time our "newspaper of record" started telling the truth and not feeding stupid narratives set by people who think that the president's supporters are the "dumbest motherfuckers in the world."

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