It doesn’t end.

For those of you that don’t know CNBC ran an on-line poll after the debate on 10/09/2007 that was pulled because CNBC cited the poll was “hacked” when in reality, it was simply flooded by Ron Paul (RP) supporters expressing their support for RP, and CNBC didn’t like that. The poll showed Ron Paul at 75%. I wrote articles that (a) showed the before and after CNBC’s online poll and (b) responded to CNBC’s Allen Wastler’s open letter to the Ron Paul “faithful”.

On October 12 2007, John Howard of CNBC wrote his “Open Letter to Ron Paul Supporters“. I capture the text of his post:

I have been reading e-mailed complaints from dozens and dozens of you about’s decision to take down our online poll gauging results of the CNBC-MSNBC-Wall Street Journal presidential debate.

I agree with the complaints. I do not believe our poll was “hacked.” Nor do I agree with my colleagues’ decision to take it down, though I know they were acting in good faith.

“Good faith” or “blind faith”? I am not sure of that at all, although I certainly understand why you would support your colleague. You have to say that. Sorry, I just simply seen too much mainstream censorship of Ron Paul in the news and at the debates. However, thank you for confirming that the poll was not hacked, although we all knew that to begin with.

My reasoning is simple: Political dialogue on the Internet, like democracy itself, ought to be open and participatory. If you sponsor an online poll as we did, you accept the results unless you have very good reason to believe something corrupt has occurred–just as democracies accept results on Election Day at the ballot box without compelling evidence of corruption. I have no reason to believe anything corrupt occurred with respect to our poll.

That is correct. Assuming the media reports the corruption. One word: Diebold. You went to sleep.

To the contrary, I believe the results we measured showing an impressive 75% naming Paul reflect the organization and motivation of Paul’s adherents. This is precisely what unscientific surveys of this kind are created to measure. Another indication: the impressive $5-million raised by Paul’s campaign in the third quarter of the year.

We have the money. We have the message. We have the man. We don’t have a fair and balanced media. Ron Paul is marginalized at the debates. He is asked fewer questions then other candidates. When he wins a straw poll, we get headlines like, “Mitt Romney loses NV straw poll”. This would be analogous to the media headline “Kerry loses Presidential Election” instead of “Bush wins Presidential Election”.

To be clear: I believe that Ron Paul’s chances of winning the presidency are no greater than my own, which is to say zero. When he ran as the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 1988, he drew fewer than a half-million votes. In last week’s Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll of Republican primary voters–which IS a scientific poll with a four percentage point margin for error–Paul drew two percent.

Ah, but that was 1988 – 19 years ago. Reagan was President. The internet was in it’s infancy, and non-existent to the general public. Mainstream media dominated. Youtube, Google, or other sites devoted to talk about issues mainstream bypassed did not exist or were not readily accessible as they are today. Libertarians (or any other smaller political parties the media refused to recognize) could not get their message out. We had to go to libraries in the hopes they would have the sources we needed to research.

All that is past now. We don’t need mainstream as information proliferation thanks to the Internet is the greatest it has ever been in civilization. We still need to critically think about the information that we do consume on the Internet, but that argument applies to mainstream as well. Thanks to the Internet, we can check and cross reference stories you publish against what others are saying, from the comfort of our own homes. My father, for the first time, used the phrase “media spin”. He is 76 years old and online quite a bit. He is beginning to understand (a staunch conservative) how the media has been duplicit in doing their jobs. He is not quite convinced that there is outright media censorship … but I am working on that 😉

He lacks the support needed to win the GOP nomination, and would even if the media covered him as heavily as we cover Rudy Giuliani. Why? Because Paul’s views–respectable, well-articulated and sincerely held as they are–are plainly out of step with the mainstream sentiment of the party he is running in.

Maybe that is exactly what is needed. The Republican Party will vaporize if he does not get the nomination, and Hillary will win. Mainstream sentiment? Whose? Yours? Or the sentiment of the party? If the latter, we have seen the damage the “mainstream sentiment” has done to America. Look at Lou Dobbs’ commentaries. If the former, who are you to promote?

The difference we are discussing–breadth of views vs intensity of views–is a staple of political discussion and always has been in democracies. Highly motivated minorities can and do exert influence out of proportion to their numbers in legislative debates and even in some elections. They most certainly can dominate unscientific online polls. And when they do, we should neither be surprised nor censor the results.

You bet. Special interest lobby groups “exert influence out of proportion to their numbers” in Congress, like AIPAC (I could name dozens, but I just finished watching a documentary about Lee Hamilton and the 9/11 commisions stated that the US support of Israel was a factor in the attacks, sending billions to Israel. This creates massive discontent in the middle east – one of the outcomes of the 9/11 commission was that they mentioned “blowback” and the fact that US foreign policy was a factor in the attacks:

Highly motivated minorities like the mainstream media influence who gets elected by choosing to cover who they want and ignoring who they think won’t get elected.

–John Harwood

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