"All bets are off"… or not

It’s been a while since I complained about CBC pundit Stephen Smart but his 5pm news report today was egregious. He suggested the current Angus Reid poll indicates an important shift that gives new hope to BC Liberals. The claim was misleading and not backed up by fact. His words,

“Right now you’ve got 28% of people who say they think Adrian Dix would be the best Premier, Christy Clark at 16%. If you add up the undecideds and the people who don’t like any of the options, you hit 48%, so almost half of the voters don’t like any of the options, don’t know. That’s a huge room that is now left to manoeuvre, which means, really, all bets are off between now and election day.”

All bets are off are they? First, let’s examine what pollster Angus-Reid has been saying over time.

The words of CBC reporter Smart imply that a significant change in public opinion has been revealed. On the contrary, the political alignments in B.C. have been relatively stable, particularly because the margin of error (sampling variability) is +/- 3.5%. In other words, small changes are not necessarily meaningful from one period to another.

Christy Clark and friends describe politics in BC as a struggle between free enterprisers and unwashed lefties. I believe a more accurate description is of a contest between parties that represent economic elites and social conservatives versus two parties that represent pluralistic and egalitarian movements sympathetic to conservation of the natural environment and effective regulation of industrial activity.

During the last few months, the Liberals conducted guerilla war against the Conservative Party of BC. Supporters of the targeted party who lost faith in its leadership were more likely to migrate to the BC Liberals than to either of the progressive opposition parties. Angus-Reid reports little change in support either for the supposed “coalition of free enterprisers” and the groups that style themselves progressives.

Smart emphasized that 48% of voters expressed no opinion on the person best qualified to be Premier. However, that number is unchanged from the last Angus-Reid survey. Instead of breathlessly claiming that Liberals were back in the game, Stephen Smart should have noted that Angus-Reid shows that despite intensive government advertising, the voters aren’t buying Christy Clark’s message, even if they are paying for it.

Reader Will Hartman left a comment on Facebook:

“CTV did a similar fluff piece on their 6 o’clock news tonight. BC’s MSM,still the loyal cheerleaders…”

I watched Keith Baldrey’s report on Global TV and found it a fair report but I agree with Will Hartman that Rob Brown’s CTV report missed the mark quite completely. I wonder if these news rooms are so understaffed, or badly staffed, that they rely on talking points provided by government insiders. The news readers simply echo words fed to them and don’t have time or ability for independent analysis.

16 replies »

  1. Re: Stephen Smart's story…

    It is to laugh!!!

    Mother of God, will the B.S. never stop???

    Thanks for your blog Norm. Keep it up.


  2. I wonder if reporters consciously tilt their stories to support positions for which they have sympathy or if unintentional bias is a result of the bubble they operate in. Stephen Smart is massaged daily by government ministers and their agents, the people employed at taxpayer expense as caucus support staff along with public relations and media officers and contractors. Add the many lobbyists feeding one-sided stories and opinions.

    While his wife might be a Liberal partisan, at least Stephen Smart doesn't take money for appearing before the BC Chamber of Commerce and industry groups like fish farmers or private power operations. At least I think so. Norm's written about commentators like Bill Good, Vaughn Palmer and Keith Baldrey selling themselves to industry.This

    CBC management is supposed to give special scrutiny to Smart's reporting to ensure it is unbiased. The example written about here may be evidence they are paying much attention.


  3. When you have the plutocrats pulling the strings and paying your wages and making sure they hire the “right” people, this is the type or reporting you get. Worthless!


  4. I can't help but feel the fact CBC's Smart is married to a senior staffer for the Premier plays into his coverage. While he does negative stories on the Libs, he is the first to pull his punches and give them the benefit of the doubt.

    That said, all reporters want a close 2 way race. It's good for increasing ratings and readers. Nothing worse than an election campaign that is over before it begins. So they look for anything to create a horse race.

    I agree the poll shows little change for the Libs and NDP. The real story is that despite the BCCP emploding, the BCLP only picked half those votes. That has to be concerning to the Libs.


  5. Faced with the likely prospect that his spouse will soon be unemployed, SS is bound to want to patch the hull of this doomed ship.

    Perhaps his reportage rudder will be more neutral when he doesn't have the conflict to deal with on a daily basis?


  6. Most of the MSM in this province, are owned by corporate intrests. What a perfect “propaganda machine” the Business elite have. As has has been stated before on this and other blogs…”the MSM are “wholly owned subsideraries” of the BC Business council.”

    To put any faith in their “political” reporting is probably, not warranted.

    As long as this situation exists, a balanced politcal view, for those that view the world via the MSM, is in reality, non-existent. I understand most political reporters, have no real “apprieciation”, for the internet blogger world, and for good reason. Blogs such as this and Alex Tsukamis, provide the only “real” political reporting in this province.

    Other “half-baked “blogs, those that are written, by some of the MSM reporters, in their off hours, tend to mirror regular MSM media reporting. Intresting, the control and manipulation the “elites” have to have, in order to “push” their agenda.

    This “game” can be stopped anytime. If you don't support them, the MSM will eventually change, or become irrelevant as, the internet based media takes over. With no “affiliation to the corporate agenda”, bloggers and the public will have a better source of information, more balanced and based on the “real” world politics.


  7. You just had to listen to the Voice of the BC lieberals yesterday from morning till night,Goode, Simi,and Leslie all saying how it will be a close race and a phone in poll where the liberals are odds on favorites shame on you Leslie


  8. My view of Glowball's Krop/Baldry interview was warm and fuzzy for Premier Photo-op. They both tried to convey these were up-swinging poll numbers for Clark. They were not material.


  9. Admittedly I listen to NW once in while but I certainly don't take them seriously. It seems they have the same cadre of callers on political issues spewing the same garbage. I never ever send them any comments nor visit their website or am a patron of their sponsors. If SS shows up on CBC TV I just change the channel he has nothing to report that interests me in the least. I can only handle glowball news for mere seconds. I think their best segment “satellite debris” says it all.


  10. The use of a personal video recorder (PVR) is almost mandatory. You can record a one-hour news broadcast and, then skip the commercials, the pet adoption segments, the weather reports, the happy-talk between hosts, the advertorials pretending to be news, the cooking segments, etc. A 60-minute newscast can be watched in less than 10 minutes. If anything catches your interest, then check trusted online sources for more info.

    Wherever possible, consult direct sources. For example, instead of paying attention to how CBC, CTV or Global analyse Angus-Reid (or other) polls, go directly to the source material. Here is BRITISH COLUMBIA POLITICAL SCENE, the report on A-R's most recent provincial poll. Earlier ones are available as well.


  11. I have to respectfully disagree with some of your points Norm. While you are right that the “horserace” numbers are within the margin of error, some other findings are notable. Your readers may want to check my analysis of the Angus Reid Poll and interview with pollster Mario Canseco in The Tyee today or at my blog – http://billtieleman.blogspot.ca/2012/11/bc-premier-christy-clark-exiting.html – comments welcome at both.

    The fact that 48% of respondents either say none of the above for who makes the best premier or don't know has to be a concern to the NDP and all parties. It does not mean “all bets are off” however – that's not backed by the results.


  12. I've read through your material but I'm not sure which of my points you find wrong. Yes, of course the NDP should be concerned that 48% have no preference for Premier but my argument against most reporting is that the most recent Angus-Reid poll does not indicate any significant shift recently. In fact, the 48% was unchanged from the previous A-R poll.

    Bill, I don't find fault with your analysis and Keith Baldrey did balanced reporting as well. Justine Hunter was faultless but other news analysis was just plain wrong. Stephen Smart at CBC and Rob Brown of CTV are examples. Certainly, Liberals want the Angus Reid poll painted as something more than it is and indolent reporters are too quick to repeat talking points provided by the army of government paid spin doctors.


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