Inside Politics

NUMBERS GAME

Pollster John Zogby is garnering criticism from some bloggers for conducting a survey of 512 “Obama voters” on behalf of HowObamagotelected.com, the Web site of talk radio-host-turned-filmmaker John Seigler, who is promoting a film of the same name.

Mr. Zeigler’s basic premise is that the mainstream news media simply wanted Mr. Obama to win, and provided correspondingly positive coverage. The Zogby poll, meanwhile, essentially revealed that those voters remembered good stuff about the president-elect and bad stuff about Sen. John McCain’s campaign.

Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight.com has accused Mr. Zogby of conducting a dubious “push poll,” meant to ferret out negative information on Mr. Obama and cast aspersions on his supporters.

“I would hope that any and all clients that need legitimate polling work conducted would take their business elsewhere. These clients include C-SPAN and Reuters, two organizations with longstanding and well-deserved reputations for accuracy and neutrality,” Mr. Silver said Tuesday.

“We stand by the results of our survey work on behalf of John Ziegler, as we stand by all of our work,” countered Mr. Zogby. “We reject the notion that this was a push poll because it very simply wasn’t. This poll was not designed to hurt anyone, which is obvious as it was conducted after the election. The client is free to draw his own conclusions about the research, as are bloggers and other members of society. But Zogby International is a neutral party in this matter.”

PAGING MOTEL 6

Hat in hand, looking for handouts, the three CEOs of the Big Three automakers are still in town hoping to get a few kajillion dollars in federal bailout money.

The trio is not exactly staying in rooms befitting the newly frugal, though. A sharp-eyed source finds them in swanky digs, indeed.

“Alan Mulally of Ford is at the Ritz Carlton downtown. Rick Wagoner of GM is at the Hay-Adams. Robert Nardelli of Chrysler is at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. What does this tell you? Are spas in California or maybe a partridge hunt in England next?” the source demands.

NO DRAMA OBAMA

“If you leak, you’re gone” - that is the new mantra for the transition worker bees who may be tempted to buzz.

“Many of the major staff appointments so far … along with details about internal thinking on Gitmo and other subjects have escaped whatever barriers the Obama team has set in place,” writes Marc Ambinder of the Atlantic.

“Every transition staffer and adviser has signed a non-disclosure agreement, and staff members are regularly warned by their superiors not to talk to the press. My guess is that the sheer size of the universe that Obama’s now dealing with - huge agency teams, reams of outside advisers being asked for their opinions - renders silence virtually impossible.”

“It’s important to remember where the ‘No Drama Obama’ meme started: it has less to do with information getting out about decisions - than about information getting out about internal deliberations or arguments.”

OFF TUNE

The media landscape has perilous pathways these days. The Murfreesboro Post has tread one since publishing “Ode to Obama,” a parody penned Nov. 9 by a local elementary school principal - meant to be sung to the theme song of the old “The Jeffersons” sitcom.

“Well we’re movin’ on up, to Washington, D.C. To a deee-luxe pimp pad, painted white,” wrote Stephen Lewis. “Yeah we’re movin’ on up, to the White House. I’ll be jetting with P. Diddy cross the sky.”

The ditty went on for three more verses. Public reaction was not good. The Tennessee paper quickly published Part. 2:

“We sincerely regret that Mr. Lewis’ attempt at humor crossed the line from funny to offensive for many readers. We are especially regretful that the lone column sends an incorrect message about this newspaper, but more importantly Murfreesboro, Rutherford County and Tennessee, and the people who live therein, including some 40,000 who voted for President-elect Barack Obama,” stated publisher and editor Michael L. Pirtle.

“This community has been notably progressive and open-minded in dealing with racial and diversity issues since the early days of the Civil Rights movement, but that unfortunately is not the perception as a result of Sunday’s column,” Mr. Pirtle said. “We regret that portions of the column proved offensive to so many, but even more so that it has drawn an inaccurate assessment of this community, its people and even its ‘Red’ voters.”

The Rev. Goldy Wade, local NAACP president, said Mr. Lewis should be fired. The organization plans to file a complaint with the county Board of Education, the state Department of Education or the federal government, according to the paper.

OFF TRACK

The New York Post is everywhere, it seems, even on the train between Washington and New York. A source for the paper recently overheard MSNBC host Chris Matthews carrying on about President-elect Barack Obama possibly picking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his secretary of state.

“I don’t understand it. Why would he pick her? I thought we were done with the Clintons. She’ll just use it to build her power base. It’s Machiavellian. And then we’ll have Bill Clinton, too. I thought Obama didn’t want drama. He’s already got Rahm Emanuel and John Podesta. He’ll have even more drama with her. She’s just a soap opera. If he doesn’t pick her, everyone will say she’s been dissed again; we’ll have to live through that again.”

The Post referred to Mr. Matthews as a, uh, “castrato” in the Tuesday item.

BR-R-R-R-R

Memo to all politicians, transition team, State Department hopefuls, et al: It pays to get a flack, an agenda and stay on message. Michael Graham - the Tyson’s Corner Santa Claus who did all three, then threatened the shopping mall with a lawsuit after it attempted to fire him - will assume his rightful throne on Saturday.

He is still very much on message.

“Santa Mike is available for interviews upon request but will speak only about the upcoming holiday season,” notes Steve Winter of Brotman-Winter-Fried Communications.

No word if the group has made inroads at the North Pole yet.

E-mail Jennifer Harper or call 202/636-3085.

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