They opine, you decide


I had one of those moments of perfect clarity this afternoon that reminds me why I don't invest much time listening to AM talk radio.

Driving home, I heard the start of KFI's "Total Recall" show. The male host opened by making it clear the show's overriding goal is the ouster of Gray Davis. Fine, I appreciated the fair warning that everything to come would be skewed that way. Even so, I cringed when co-host Jill Stewart assured listeners that of course the new L.A. Times Poll showing Bustamante ahead was probably cooked. She had no actual evidence but plowed on anyway with a conspiracy theory about the poll questions not all being on the Times website -- and wasn't that "incredible?" I actually felt bad for any listener-victims who might be falling for the spin.

So I get home, sign on and find that Dan Weintraub, the most popular and respected blogger by many on the pro-recall side, also addressed the Times Poll. He knows that recall suporters didn't like it, and he gives some good reasons why its snapshot may already be outdated, if it was ever valid given the volatility of this campaign (it's no more suspect than any other poll). But he also fact-checks the conspiracists (emphasis below mine):

Having worked at The Times for 12 years, as well as at the Orange County Register and now the Bee, I have never seen any organized liberal (or libertarian) bias in the newsroom. It is true that many reporters are liberals, and that might color their view of the news or certain political figures. But mostly reporters just want to tell a good story. Davis would not be in the trouble he is in today if the press had not reported critically on his problems with the energy crisis, the budget and his pay-to-play fundraising style.

And it’s just not credible to claim that The Times would skew a poll to try to help the Democrats. If the poll is wrong, it’s because telephone polling itself has become problematic in the age of cell phones, call-waiting and answering machines, and because this race, with its unique format and multi-candidate field, is going to be extremely difficult to assess.

Smart, knowledgeable and honest, or "more stimulating talk radio." Take your pick.

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