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Friday 21 October 2011

Shooting The Mail Fox

The continuing efforts to demonise the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests in New York City have taken root in the authoritarian part of the Fourth Estate, as the Daily Mail gives a platform to Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation. Darling also contributes to Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com, and thus brings the flavour of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) to the Mail.

His latest piece, titled “The Occupy Wall St movement is far from mainstream American thought”, leans heavily on an (unlinked) article in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal by pollster Douglas Schoen, who by the most fortunate of coincidences is also a political analyst for Fox News, where he is portrayed as a moderate Democrat.

Sadly, Schoen’s reputation as a sell-out precedes him, and his assertion that OWS are “leftists out of step with most American voters” should be handled with caution. Azi Paybarah of Capital New York got hold of the raw survey data and concluded that the opinions recorded were “not quite as ... exciting as all that”. And Judd Legum at Think Progress has gone further.

His analysis is that Schoen “appears to have grossly misrepresented the results of his poll”. The data does not stand up Schoen’s assertion that the large majority of the OWS protesters share “opposition to free market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth”. The Think Progress article ends with a link to the Journal’s letters page, to request a correction.

Darling, though, has another source for his piece: step forward James O’Keefe, who is described as a “conservative documentary film maker”. But this does not do O’Keefe nearly sufficient justice: this is the man who produced the heavily edited ACORN “sting” videos (since debunked and discredited), and who we last encountered being arrested following an incident at a Senator’s office.

Any sensible analysis of O’Keefe’s work can only conclude that no-one should consider his work to be in any way reliable. Nor, given Brian Darling’s recent past, should they rely on his word either. Darling, while working as an aide to Florida Senator Mel Martinez, authored the now notoriousSchiavo memo”, cited for exploiting a dying woman for potential political gain.

Darling resigned his post after the memo was traced back to Martinez’ office, but the affair shows someone prepared to use questionable means to pursue his own agenda. As such, he appears to be fitting right in among the dubiously talented array of hacks and pundits working to appease the legendarily foul mouthed editor of the Daily Mail.

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