Fast Dispatch: It’s Cold Outside, Newts and Polls

The last days of the year are generally a quiet news period. The top trends and biases support that; none of them would generally be newsworthy.

37 Things

Patrice Peck published 37 Things White People Need To Stop Ruining In 2018 on Buzzfeed, promptly resulting in calls of racism.  Repeating MTV’s mistake last year with their MTV 2017 New Year’s Resolutions for White Males, as well as Buzzfeed’s similar misstep last year that called white people a plague. Both focused on a specific target race to attack, with patronizing advice, and both resulted in an internet storm and were quickly taken down.

Patrice’s tagline is that she contextualizes cultural happenings.”

Eye on the Newt

Newt Gingrich topped our bias-meter for the second half of this week.  Newt’s scores are consistently on the right, but not generally towards the extreme, despite him having been Republican Speaker of the House.  So, this warranted a deeper look.

The title is, Get ready for the great political surprise of 2018, which isn’t telling.  But then we find:

  • Buzz-phrases.  “Republican victory”, “elite media”, “lying”, “embarrassment”, “liberal propagandists”… and that’s just in the first third.
  • Media bashing.  In theory, this should be a bi-partisan activity, but because most of the media is far to the left of the median citizen, most bashing comes from the right, and our metrics picked up on this.
  • Closed by stating that the Republicans own the truth and the Democrats lie.

This is an odd piece to analyze; it has both Newt citing a CBS study on the likely impact of the new tax bill and his partisan estimation of how this will impact the next election cycle.  The former was close to neutral; it was the latter that flagged our sensors.


Over Christmas, there was a lot of snow in the upper midwest.  Followed by a massive “deep freeze” from the midwest to the northeast which is expected to hit the mid-south.  It’s significantly colder than normal across about half of the contiguous U.S.

Despite being a trending media topic, this isn’t typical Reality Dispatch material. A few articles mentioned “AGW” (human-caused global warming) in pointing out that record-breaking is still weather, not climate.  (True, but not the dominant theme during heat waves.)

President Trump tweeted sarcastically that the cold states could use some global warming (resulting in CNN’s Chris Cillizza failing to recognize the sarcasm and launching into a lecture.)  The A.P. syndicated an article focused on the “most vulnerable,” which also pushed this up in the metrics.

Trump vs Obama Approval

Both sides of the spectrum are reporting on President Trump touting a new poll by Rasmussen, and a matching poll from Obama’s first year same date.

Date/President Approval Disapproval
2017-12-28, Trump 46% 53%
2009-12-28, Obama 47% 52%

As you would expect, the slant of the reports is different.  The left is pointing out that Trump’s average is significantly below Obama’s.  CNN going so far as to use the canard “reputable” to distinguish, despite the reputability of Rasmussen… and Rasmussen having been the most accurate pollster of the 2016 elections.

Both sides are correct.  The poll is an outlier.  Trump’s aggregate approval is far below Obama’s.  But Rasmussen isn’t a hack organization, so this may bear watching over time.


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