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Opinion: Efforts of the Review-Journal to affect November’s Senate race



The Review-Journal has not been subtle regarding its preference to win in this November’s upcoming U.S. Senate race. After repeated harsh criticism regarding the methodology of poll results that reflected its bias, today the RJ released yet another general election poll.

This time, however, it bothered to test only its single preferred Republican candidate, Sue Lowden, even though she’s far from clinching the nomination and was most recently denied key endorsements by the Gun Owners of American and the Tea Party Express.

Moreover, the poll continues to use the flawed methodology of random digit dialing–a generally respected means of polling but one that is especially problematic in Nevada, where less than half the voting age population cast ballots in the 2008 Presidential election. To further the point, the last off-year election in 2006, just 31 percent of voting age Nevadans turned out. With turnout so low, the gap between the number who claim to be voters in response to a public poll and the numbers who actually vote is likely to be enormous. (This had an enormous effect regarding the accuracy of the RJ’s predictions in a state where Democrats now enjoy a 63,000 registration edge. Just days before the election, the RJ poll showed Barack Obama with a 4 point lead–8 points less than the actual 12-point margin of victory.)

In analyzing the poll, the RJ also made the absurd comparison of a September 1998 poll with the one released today–absurd because (a) the GOP field for this cycle won’t be set until June, (b) voters are far less engaged in April than they are in September and (c) because Nevada’s population is wildly different today from what it was 12 years ago.

The RJ’s polling, however, is far from the most blatant manifestation of its bias. In editorial after editorial, the Review-Journal and its publisher have twisted facts and launched demonstrably false attacks in an effort to tear down Reid. They even managed to find a way to criticize Reid and President Obama for cutting taxes for middle class and working families, because fulfilling a campaign promise that makes it easier for families to get by in the worst recession since the Great Depression is taking us on the path to “socialism.”

Perhaps most telling, however, is when the Review-Journal elected to devote nearly 4,000 words on its opinion page–under the banner “Defeating Harry Reid”–to a massive “excerpt” of disgraced political operative Dick Morris’ new book under the guise of an analysis piece advising Republicans how they can defeat Democrats in November. This blatant opposition research dump has since been thoroughly debunked.

It’s obvious why the Review-Journal wants to spend so much time taking shots at Reid and so little time actually talking to Sue Lowden or other Republicans in the race about the issues. For months, nearly every time Lowden opens her mouth regarding her actual positions on the issues, she says something detrimental to her chances of achieving the RJ’s desired result. Recent examples include Lowden suggesting the House of Representatives was involved in the Supreme Court confirmation process, or when she said her solution to our broken health insurance system is to let people barter with their doctors for health care, or when she said she was afraid to fly or when she got into an “intellectual discussion” with a reporter and suggested she would have backed the bank bailout (a claim she’s now dishonestly trying to get as far away from as possible.)

Please see below for detailed history of the RJ’s unsubtle involvement in this race.

Today, the Review-Journal, responding to criticism, released its new poll, where it tested only one potential Republican challenger, even though she’s far from clinching her party’s nomination. In this morning’s paper, the Review-Journal reported on its poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday in response to criticism that it did not test the entire general election ballot. The most recent survey, however, only tested Sue Lowden against Harry Reid and the rest of the general election field, even though, as even the Review-Journal admits, “Less than two months ahead of the primary, the race is still up for grabs given the volatile electorate and possible missteps Lowden could make as she comes under near-daily attacks from Reid and from her GOP opponents taking aim at the front-runner.” [Review-Journal, 4/16/10]

Review-Journal conveniently forgets that it wasn’t just Democrats who supported the bank bailout.
In this morning’s report on its new Mason-Dixon poll, the Review-Journal reported, “In 2010, however, the political atmosphere for Reid has changed now that he’s the Senate majority leader, a position that gives him power but also makes him a target for people unhappy with the Democratic Party’s support for health care legislation and government bailouts.” [Review-Journal, 4/16/10]

Review-Journal report treats comparison of polls in September of 1998 and April 2010 as apples to apples. In this morning’s report on its new Mason-Dixon poll, the Review-Journal wrote, “According to the poll, Reid is picking up 4 percent of Republican voters and 27 percent of independents while Lowden is winning 84 percent of the GOP vote and garnering 49 percent of the swing nonpartisan voters, whom analysts said will make the difference in the 2010 race. As for Democrats, Reid is getting support from 70 percent of his own party compared with 15 percent for Lowden, mostly because conservative Democrats in rural Nevada often vote Republican, analysts say. That’s a far cry from Reid’s razor-close 428-vote recount victory over John Ensign in 1998 when independents and Republicans gave Reid the edge. Ensign later won a U.S. Senate seat in 2000. Ahead of that 1998 election, a September Mason-Dixon poll showed Reid defeating Ensign for the independent vote 48 percent to 41 percent. Meantime, Reid was pulling in 16 percent of the Republican vote and Ensign 17 percent of the Democratic vote with both candidates enjoying crossover support.” [Review-Journal, 4/16/10]

Review-Journal editorial willfully ignored what Reid ACTUALLY said about the timing of immigration reform. In yesterday’s editorial, the Review-Journal criticized Reid for saying that comprehensive immigration reform likely wouldn’t come up between now and Memorial Day, writing, “It turns out the Obama administration and Sen. Reid’s caucus have no interest in taking on an issue as politically poisonous as their health care takeover. With new financial regulations in the works, a forthcoming Supreme Court nomination and a debt-funded budget to pass, the Senate probably won’t touch illegal immigration this year, let alone this week.” Reid in no way said the Senate wouldn’t be taking up immigration reform at all this year; he simply said it probably wouldn’t make it to the floor in the next seven weeks. [Review-Journal, Editorial, 4/15/10; The Hill, 4/13/10]

Review-Journal continues to attack Reid and falsely equate comprehensive immigration reform with amnesty.
In Tuesday’s editorial, the Review-Journal wrote, “Harry Reid has already crossed the American electorate once this year, delivering horrendous health care legislation to the president. On Saturday, he vowed to repeat the insult by passing more unwanted ‘reforms,’ this time to benefit illegal immigrants. ‘We need to do this this year,’ the Senate majority leader said at a downtown Las Vegas rally, promising to make amnesty for illegals the top priority of Congress when lawmakers return to Washington this week.” The Review-Journal’s continued willingness to equate comprehensive reform with amnesty flies in the face of independent reports debunking that very claim. [Review-Journal, Editorial, 4/13/10; PolitiFact, 1/15/08; FactCheck.org, 6/27/07]

Publisher Sherm Frederick regurgitates the NRSC’s talking points; the NRSC responds in kind the next day.
On Tuesday, it took the Review-Journal publisher all of 42 minutes to write a blog post on “Harry Reid’s big disconnect with Nevadans,” cutting and pasting an email he’d received from National Republican Senatorial Committee Communications Director Brian Walsh, saying he “makes some righteous points” and adding a couple of isolated anecdotes and snarky comments about Reid’s recent statewide bus tour. The next day, the NRSC was all too happy to brag about its handiwork, writing, “In Nevada, Harry Reid continues to show voters how painfully out-of-touch he is–both with the concerns of his constituents and with reality. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Sherman Frederick picked up on the NRSC’s message.” [Review-Journal, The Complete Las Vegan, 4/13/10; NRSC Blog Post, 4/14/10]

On Sunday, the Review-Journal farmed out part of its work attacking Reid to notorious hatchet man Dick Morris.
On Sunday, the Review-Journal devoted 3,714 words on its opinion page to notorious political hatchet man and disgraced political operative Dick Morris (who lives in Florida), printing an entire section of his new book, “Take Back America—A Battle Plan.” Entitled “Defeating Harry Reid,” the “column” rehashed a series of old attacks and began, “The defeat of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November should be the No. 1 priority for everyone who wants to stop the Obama agenda, the out-of-control spending in Washington, and the all-too-cozy relationship between lobbyists and elected officials.” [Review-Journal, Dick Morris, 4/11/10]

Publisher Sherm Frederick: When people criticize Review-Journal polls, it’s obviously because they’re biased toward Democrats and can’t stand to see a “scientific poll” that doesn’t give them the results they want. In a Sunday blog post, Review-Journal Publisher Sherm Frederick criticized critics of the Review-Journal’s latest round of polling: “The twittering class chirped anxiously over the weekend about the audacity of the Review-Journal’s political polling that appeared in the newspaper Sunday and late last week. The governor’s poll can’t possibly be right, cried one Reid friendly columnist. Beloved Rep. Dina Titus can’t be losing to Dr. Heck, others whined. Chirp, chirp, chirp. Tweet, bitter tweet, bitter tweet. Here’s the truth: Our competitors hate Review-Journal polls because they undercut the biases of Nevada’s chattering political class. They’d prefer you listen to their flawed (and sometimes worse than that) analysis, than the facts of a scientifically conducted poll … If our competitors don’t like the results because they don’t reinforce their own biases, then they are welcome to spend the bucks and do the scientific surveys, too. They don’t because it costs money they don’t have and if done honestly they will mirror the Review-Journal polls.” [Review-Journal, The Complete Las Vegan, 4/11/10]

Publisher Sherm Frederick attacks Reid for … cutting taxes? In a blog post last Wednesday, Review-Journal Publisher Sherm Frederick posted an Associated Press article showing the effects of tax relief for working and middle class families passed by Senator Reid and President Obama. Frederick wrote, “Read the following AP story and then I invite liberals especially to tell us how this is a good thing. This should be interesting.” In his Sunday column, Frederick wrote, “In these days of Obama ‘change,’ it’s difficult to put a finger on the WPFA–Worst Problem Facing America … Creeping socialism, moral deterioration and the collapse of uniformly good public education might also gain some support.” After re-printing part of the AP report, Frederick writes, “Unfortunately, the Obama administration–along with the help of my own U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and the Democrat Party–works to accelerate this brand of redistribution. This Thursday, April 15, the tax man cometh, and he cometh for … only half of us? … America wasn’t created to encourage the lazy to lift their feet while the rest of us pedal. Seems to me all Americans ought to pay something–even a small amount–to enjoy the freedoms of America. Is that asking too much?” [Review-Journal, The Complete Las Vegan, 4/7/10; Review-Journal, Sherm Frederick Column, 4/11/10]

Review-Journal editorial board attacks Reid, Democrats for … cutting taxes?
In last Friday’s editorial, the Review-Journal wrote, “Americans once enjoyed a measure of solidarity on Tax Day. Co-workers and neighbors shared with each other the pain of sending their hard-earned dollars into the black hole that is the federal Treasury …Today, it is a symbol of the country’s divisions and the social engineering via tax policy carried out by members of Congress. That’s because Tax Day is now payday for tens of millions of Americans, and a day of no fiscal consequence for tens of millions more … Tax credits for the lower and middle classes have grown to the point that a working couple with two children and a combined household income of $50,000 will, at worst, owe no income taxes in 2009, according to an analysis by Deloitte Tax.” [Review-Journal, Editorial, 4/9/10]

Publisher Sherm Frederick: “Harry Reid And Friends Turned Us Into Greece.” In a blog post last Thursday, Review-Journal Publisher Sherm Frederick wrote about a recent report in The Hill about rising deficits, “If this doesn’t scare the heck out of you, then you’ve not been paying attention. The Obama/Reid/Pelosi policies are poised to financially swamp us as a nation.” [Review-Journal, The Complete Las Vegan, 4/8/10]

Of course, he conveniently didn’t bother to mention that part of the CBO’s deficit equation is that President Obama and Democrats in Congress want to preserve most of the Bush tax cuts. According to the same report in The Hill cited by Sherm Frederick, “Spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, plus defense programs and debt interest, will exceed the rest of the federal budget in 10 years if most of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are extended, as President Barack Obama has proposed, Elmendorf said.” [The Hill, 4/8/10]

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