web analytics
August 3, 2015 / 18 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

The Public Is The Last To Know

Polling-Booth-090712

The charade is played out every evening on election day. Television news anchors and beat reporters, on local stations and the networks, come on the air full of breathless anticipation, seeking to build an atmosphere of nail-biting uncertainty.

Unless a particular race results in a landslide of mammoth proportions – and the vast majority of them do not – projected winners are not announced until after a sufficient number of voting districts have officially reported in.

The choreographed suspense makes for wonderful theater, as the action continually shifts between the anchors in the studio and the reporters stationed at the various campaign headquarters. Every few minutes a fresh batch of figures is announced, widening the gap in one race, tightening it in another.

And every time the numbers are updated, back we go to the correspondents at the rented halls for stories of jubilation or desperation, renewed hopes or sinking expectations.

Meanwhile, back at the anchor desks, there is much speculation about what the latest data could possibly mean.

It’s all so intriguing, so exciting…so phony. Because one of the media’s dirty little secrets for many years was that thanks to exit polling, anchors and reporters covering the races on election night almost always knew the results hours before the polls even closed.

Even now, with 24-hour coverage of politics on cable TV and the Internet and after the controversy over the 2004 exit polls that indicated John Kerry would beat President George W. Bush, exit polling is still something of which many Americans are at best only dimly aware.

The existence of exit polls and the media’s reliance on them first began to permeate the public consciousness – at least among those who paid close attention to politics and the media – in 1980, when the networks called the presidential election for Ronald Reagan just a couple of hours after the first states had closed their voting booths and long before many voters had even cast their ballots on the West Coast.

But the subject was something journalists – understandably – were reluctant to speak about. An early public airing came in the November 1998 issue of Brill’s Content, a short-lived magazine dedicated to exposing journalistic excess.

In an article titled “Exit-Poll Results: The Public Is the Last to Know,” Warren Mitofsky, a former executive director of the CBS News Election and Survey Unit who has since passed away, wrote that by “early [election day] afternoon, the network exit-poll consortium will open the computer spigot to its members and subscribers. Within minutes, political insiders – politicos and journalists alike – will be buzzing with the results.”

As Mitofsky noted, the people who do the buzzing are the very ones who have agreed among themselves – in the name of civic responsibility, of course – to carefully guard the exit-poll projections from the public until the voting booths close.

But Mitofsky suggested that something other than altruistic devotion to good government drove this double standard.

“It is considered bad form to broadcast early exit-poll estimates before polls close because doing so could discourage late voters from casting ballots,” he wrote. “However, journalists and politicians consider themselves an elite class that is able to handle this potent news without contamination. Throughout election day they clamor for it while they protect the citizens’ right to remain uninformed.”

Does any of this make a difference? Mitofsky said it does, since “early exit-poll results influence print and broadcast news reporting. They also affect get-out-the-vote efforts by politicians and the spin their consultants put out to the press. They can even affect the stock market.”

As soon as exit-poll estimates become available, wrote Mitofsky, they “are then leaked by staffers at various news organizations to their many friends and acquaintances in and out of politics. In fact, these exit-poll results are stock-brokered like commodities – used by campaign sources and journalists to squeeze more information from one another.”

Something to bear in mind on election night this November when the reporters and pundits on television and radio will once again pretend to be as much in the dark as you are about the election results.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Public Is The Last To Know”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
U.S. President Barack Obama
Jewish Group Demands Obama Stop Demonizing Jews
Latest Indepth Stories
DemographGraphic2.jpg

In 2015, Israel’s fertility rate (3+ births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries except 3

New Israel Fund and the UN

The New Israel Fund, as usual, condemns the State of Israel rather than condemning a horrible act.

lahore

I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya

Eishet Chayil

While Orthodox men are encouraged to achieve and celebrated for it, Orthodox women too often are not

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Assemblymember Bichotte speaking in the New York State Assembly.

The bills I’m proud to have sponsored are less controversial, more responsive to yeshiva and parochial school parents, and were gaining traction in the Assembly until the negative campaign began…

Zechariah Schwarzberg, z”l

Though intimately acquainted with mankind’s darkest side, he never lost his faith&love in God or man

Some of the president’s defenders took to arguing that the overwhelming majority of German military personnel interred in Bitburg were regular Wehrmacht soldiers who died on the battlefield and likely were not involved in atrocities against civilians.

Note also the response to the speech by the top Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticism of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/the-public-is-the-last-to-know/2012/09/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: