Brian Tashman's blog

Katrina Pierson Insists That Unscientific Online Polls Are Accurate, Media Polls Are 'Skewed'

On Tuesday, Donald Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson took a page from her boss and touted Trump’s performance in post-debate online polls that have no scientific accuracy whatsoever.

After conservative talk show host Joe Pags told Pierson that “news organization polling” is tilted against Trump because media outlets “have some sort of vested interested in getting Hillary Clinton elected,” Pierson said that the scientific polls conducted by media firms are “skewed.”

As proof, she cited the fact that the CNN sampled more Democrats in its poll of debate viewers. Three other scientific polls also found that most people thought that Clinton won the debate.

Pierson vigorously defended the accuracy of voluntary, unscientific online polls: “When you look at the online polls, these are people who are, like I said, not engaged in the day-to-day, 24-hour news cycle, watching cable news all day every day, these are just people. If you’re looking at Time magazine, if you’re on another website and they’re doing a poll and you vote in that poll, by the way, to the tune of over a million votes in some of these polls, that’s important, because those aren’t the people who are in it one way or another, a lot of those people are just engaging.”

However, just the opposite typically occurs, as many online surveys are swarmed by one candidate’s supporters, such as this online poll of around 300,000 votes that found Green Party nominee Jill Stein leading the presidential field with close to 65 percent of the vote.

Fox News’ vice president of public opinion research, Dana Blanton, had to release a memo reaffirming the uselessness of online polls after several Fox News anchors hyped online polls after the debate. (Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade, however, continued to cite Trump’s strong performance in such polls after the memo was released). Business Insider reports:

A Fox News executive sent a memo to television producers and the politics team on Tuesday afternoon reminding employees that unscientific online polls "do not meet our editorial standards."

Dana Blanton, the vice president of public-opinion research at Fox News, explained in the memo obtained by Business Insider that "online 'polls' like the one on Drudge, Time, etc. where people can opt-in or self-select … are really just for fun."

"As most of the publications themselves clearly state, the sample obviously can't be representative of the electorate because they only reflect the views of those Internet users who have chosen to participate," Blanton wrote.

As the Fox News executive pointed out, users who participate in such polls must have internet access, be online at the time of the poll, be fans of the website in question, and self-select to participate.

"Another problem — we know some campaigns/groups of supporters encourage people to vote in online polls and flood the results," she wrote. "These quickie click items do not meet our editorial standards."

"News networks and other organizations go to great effort and rigor to conduct scientific polls — for good reason," Blanton wrote in the memo. "They know quick vote items posted on the web are nonsense, not true measures of public opinion."

However, we won’t hold our breath for Trump and his campaign to stop promoting the results of unscientific polls as long as they turn out favorable to them.

Rick Joyner: Climate Change Is A Communist Plot

In an appearance yesterday on “The Jim Bakker Show,” televangelist Rick Joyner said that he is now between 98 and 99 percent confident that climate change is a myth that it is nothing more than an invention of the Communist Party.

Joyner said that climate change goes all the way back to a purported 1930s-era Communist Party “plan for subduing America” through “reeducation” and subversion.

Part of the plan, he said, was to “co-opt” young people knowing that “the youth will always respond to environmental issues and we have to keep inventing crises so that we can be the ones who save the world or are the answer to saving the world over and over.”

Michael Savage's Latest Conspiracy Theory Debunked

On Monday afternoon, conservative talk radio host Michael Savage learned that his program was not running as usual on a major New York radio station that day, prompting him to claim that he was being thrown off the air because of his outspoken support for Donald Trump.

An incensed Savage alleged that he had been “sabotaged” to “destroy support for Trump”:

What actually happened, as Snopes notes today, is that the New York-based radio station WABC “opted to preempt his show—apparently without notifying Savage in advance—in favor of 'wall to wall' coverage of that day's first presidential debate.”

“Adding to the confusion was the fact that some kind of technical glitch resulted in a portion of the third hour of Savage's program being replaced by a repeat of a previous show on the day in question,” the myth-busting group adds.

Savage, however, declared on his program on Monday that this was just “a taste of what’s coming” if Hillary Clinton becomes president.

“I told you that if Hillary wins, there will be censorship of talk radio and other aspects of the media,” he said. “Everyone knows that. We know that she’s a monster. She does not believe in freedom of speech. She has an enemy’s list—I’m on it. The people behind her are some of the worst people in American history—maybe human history—who will not stop at anything to destroy their enemies.”

Savage’s fellow conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump fan Alex Jones, meanwhile, claimed that Matt Drudge’s prediction of imminent censorship of conservatives was coming true.

“This is 21st century book burning that’s taking place,” Jones said.

Jim Bakker: Hillary Clinton's Election Could Usher In God's Wrath

Televangelist Jim Bakker warned yesterday that Hillary Clinton’s election could lead to God’s wrath on American and the country “could reap horrendous times” if voters make the wrong choice in November.

Bakker has spent the week discussing the presidential election with fellow televangelist Rick Joyner; both are Donald Trump supporters and have warned of various dire consequences if Clinton wins the White House.

Bakker said yesterday that “it will probably be the most important election ever in the history of the United States of America,” in part due to the vacancy on the Supreme Court, and could lead to divine wrath if voters pick the wrong candidate.

“If we continue to turn our back” on God, Bakker said, “America could reap horrendous times; perilous times will come.”

In a previous program, Bakker said that Clinton’s election would be God’s judgment on America.

Savage: Hillary 'Was Like A Sumo Wrestler Who Won The Debate Right From The Beginning'

Conservative radio host and Donald Trump ally Michael Savage said on his program yesterday that he couldn’t finish watching Monday’s presidential debate because he knew early in the evening that Hillary Clinton had won the contest.

“Hillary knew how to trigger Trump and drag him off balance,” he said, pointing to Clinton’s accurate claim that Trump received $14 million from his father and lamenting that the GOP candidate “fell right into her trap.”

“When she said to him that he inherited $14 million from his father, she fundamentally was like a sumo wrestler who won the debate right from the beginning with that remark because he took the bait and she threw him off the mat,” Savage said. “He was unbalanced from the point on. She knew that he would take the debate and defend his father. Why? Because he has character and she doesn’t. She’s a lowlife with no character, she has no character whatsoever.”

Trump did not in fact “defend his father,” who wasn’t even the subject of the remark, but instead falsely claimed that he had only received a “very small loan.”

Trump's Fans Declare Unscientific Online Polls To Be The New Gold Standard

During the presidential primary season, it was always amusing to watch Donald Trump tout his massive leads in online polls, the notoriously unscientific surveys in which participants can vote more than once and fans of one candidate often swarm the vote.

For example, one online poll has Green Party candidate Jill Stein leading the field with nearly 65% support—hardly a precise barometer of the nation.

Soon after last night’s debate was over, Trump declared himself the winner by citing the results of online polls. “I won every single poll other than CNN,” he said, triumphantly tweeting the findings of several online surveys.

He even claimed he won a CBS poll that didn’t actually exist .

Four scientific polls of debate viewers, on the other hand, found that most viewers believed Clinton won the debate.

While it is comical to watch Trump feed his insatiable narcissism by flaunting unrepresentative polls, Trump’s allies in the media are taking a page from the presumptive GOP nominee.

Fox News host Steve Doocy said it was “crazy” that “Hillary was actually number four behind Jill Stein and Gary Johnson” in one online poll. Fox’s Sean Hannity hyped the nonexistent CBS poll that supposedly showed a Trump lead.

Hannity went so far as to say that unscientific online polls are more accurate than real polls because they “have hundreds of thousands if not millions” of respondents, a statement that’s laughable to anyone with an elementary understanding of statistics.

Another Fox News pundit, Martha MacCallum, even dismissed the CNN poll as an “outlier” because it conflicted with the results of online surveys. The conservative network ran an article —with no byline—on how “online surveys had Donald Trump as the yuge winner,” hailing them as “a good gauge of enthusiasm.”

It seems that many conservatives learned nothing from the 2012 “unskew” the polls movement. That year, fringe right-wing blogs began to champion the conspiracy theory that liberals in the media were skewing public opinion polls in favor of President Obama to hide the fact that Mitt Romney was the clear favorite. The theory eventually made its way toconservative talk radio,Fox News and even to Romney’s presidential campaign.

One of the most prominent poll truthers in that election was none other than Donald Trump.

When Romney lost, many of the conservatives promoting the “unskew” myth were shocked.

Dana Perino, a former Bush aide turned Fox News host, described how many Republicans, including herself, “believed that the polls were skewed in Obama’s favor, and did not take conservative enthusiasm into consideration.”

“On election night when President Obama easily won reelection, I vowed to never put myself in that position again,” she said.

However, her colleagues are doing just that, and Fox News commentators are now citing everything from crowd sizes to Facebook likes to prove that the polls are wrong and Trump is way ahead.

Trump himself has said that polls showing him trailing are “phony” and that the only way he would lose would be if the election were rigged against him and widespread voter fraud occurred. One of his advisers, Roger Stone, said that if Trump loses due to an “illegitimate” election, “it will be a bloodbath.”

The Trump campaign and its supporters in the media aren’t even bothering to “unskew” the polls anymore and are instead content with citing bogus online surveys that should be taken seriously by no one.

As Trump preaches disdain for basic statistics, it seems his conservative allies are more than happy to follow along.

(This post also appears on the Huffington Post).

Pat Robertson: 'Demonic' Dungeons & Dragons 'Captures' Its Players

Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson issued yet another warning about the perils of Dungeons & Dragons, this time after a viewer claimed that “really weird things” started happening in her house after her husband began playing an online game that “includes elements of witchcraft.”

Robertson urged her to “find a minister or some trusted adviser who will tell him this is a problem,” before going off on Dungeons & Dragons, which he said has lured people “into a fantasy world that really captured them.”

“It is demonic,” he said. “Demons are out to destroy you and your husband needs to understand that.”

20 Lies Donald Trump Told At The First Presidential Debate

Donald Trump, already notorious for his mind-blowing dishonesty, repeated many of his usual lies during last night’s presidential debate—and added some new ones.

Some of Trump’s whoppers were obviously false, while others required a bit more digging to disprove.

Here are just 20 lies that Trump told during his first debate against Hillary Clinton:


Trump’s lies about his own history

Lie #1: Denies making remarks about climate change.

Clinton: “Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. I think it's real.”

Trump: “I did not—I do not say that.”

Trump has in fact said that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese:

Lie #2: Denies his own proposal to negotiate down the debt.

Clinton: “You even went and suggested that you would try to negotiate down the national debt of the United States.”

Trump: “Wrong.”

Trump has said that as president, “I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal” on the debt. Economists have widely panned this idea aseconomically catastrophic.

Lie #3: Denies supporting the Iraq War.

“I did not support the war in Iraq.”

Trump expressed support for the invasion of Iraq before it took place and only said that he opposed the war after the conflict had started.

Lie #4: Denies calling pregnancy a business inconvenience.

Clinton: “This is a man who is called women pigs, slobs and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers.”

Trump: “I never said that.”

In 2004, Trump said that pregnancy is “certainly an inconvenience for a business.”

Lie #5: Contradicts himself about his tax audit.

Trump: “I’m under a routine audit.”

[moments later]

Trump: “Look, I have been under audit almost for 15 years. I know a lot of wealthy people that have never been audited. I said, ‘Do you get audited ?’ I get audited almost every year. And in a way I should be complaining. I’m not even complaining. I don't mind them. It’s almost become a way of life. I get audited by the IRS. But other people don't.”

Trump has previously claimed that he is facing an audit, which he has used to justify his refusal to release his tax returns, because he’s “a strong Christian,” but his own lawyers say that the “continuous examination” of his returns is “consistent with the IRS’ practice for large and complex businesses.” Experts also point out that there is nothing preventing Trump from releasing his returns.

Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., said that his father was refusing to release his return because it would be a distraction from his campaign.

Lie #6: Falsely claims he already released key financial information.

“You will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections where I filed a one hundred and four page, essentially financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have.”

As PolitiFact notes, this information leaves out essential information, including “details on his effective tax rate, the types of taxes he paid, and how much he gave to charity, as well as a more detailed picture of his income-producing assets.”

Lie #7: Falsely claims he only received a small loan from his father.

“My father gave me a very small loan in 1975.”

Trump has been regaling audiences with the tale that he received a “small loan of a million dollars” from his father, real estate mogul Fred Trump, when he first went into business. Far from an up-from-the-bootstraps success story, Trump regularly relied “on his father’s connections and wealth” in the form of “lucrative trusts” and “numerous loans and loan guarantees, as well as his father’s connections,” The Washington Post reports.

“As Trump’s casinos ran into trouble,” the Post reports, “Trump’s father also purchased $3.5 million gaming chips, but did not use them, so the casino would have enough cash to make payments on its mortgage—a transaction which casino authorities later said was an illegal loan.”

Indeed, loans Trump received from his father amounted to $14 million, “a value of $31 million in today’s dollars.”

Lie #8: Claims Clinton’s campaign, not Trump, started the birther movement.

“They were pressing it very hard, she failed to get the birth certificate. When I got involved, I didn't fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. So I'm satisfied with it, and I’ll tell you why I’m satisfied with it.”

There is no proof that anyone in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign pushed the birther conspiracy theory. Instead, Trump cited an interview with Clinton’s former campaign manager in which she said that the campaign fired a volunteer who forwarded a birther email. He also cited a conversation that Sidney Blumenthal, who had no formal role in Clinton’s campaign, had with a McClatchy reporter, but McClatchy “found no proof that Blumenthal questioned Obama’s birthplace.”


Trump’s lies about the economy and finance

Lie #9: Misleadingly claims jobs are “fleeing” abroad.

“Our jobs are fleeing the country.”

Employment has been rising since the end of the Great Recession, but Trump has been using bogus statistics to claim that unemployment is actually as high as 42 percent.

Lie #10: Falsely claims China is devaluing their currency.

“You look at what China is doing to our country in terms of making our product, they're devaluing their currency and there's nobody in our government to fight them.”

In fact, China has of late been doing the opposite of devaluing its currency.

Ian Talley of The Wall Street Journal notes that while “few U.S. economists would disagree China kept the yuan undervalued over the last two decades,” now, “many economists—including some of the strongest advocates for action against Beijing s—say the yuan is now close to fair value. Beijing appreciated the yuan from 2005 to 2014…. In fact, over the last two years, Beijing burned through nearly a quarter of what was once a $4 trillion currency stockpile to prevent the yuan from falling against the dollar.”

Lie #11 : Baselessly claims the Federal Reserve is “doing political” by not increasing interest rates.

“This Janet Yellen of the Fed, the Fed is doing political by keeping interest rates at this level. And believe me the day Obama goes off and he leaves and he goes out to the golf course for the rest of his life to play golf, when they raise interest rates, you are going to see some very bad things happen because the Fed is not doing their job. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.”

The Federal Reserve is an independent institution and Trump has yet to offer any evidence that Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is taking her cues from President Obama, a claim that he has been making for weeks.


Trump’s lies about national security

Lie #12 : Absurdly claims Clinton has fought ISIS for decades.

“No wonder you’ve been fighting ISIS your entire adult life.”

ISIS was created out of the Islamic State of Iraq, which was founded in 2006, and was in turn the descendent of Al Qaeda in Iraq, established in 2004. Hillary Clinton is 68 years old and graduated from college in 1969.

Lie #13 : Claims other countries don’t pay us for military defense.

“We defend Germany. We defend South Korea. We defend Saudi Arabia. We defend countries. They do not pay us what they should be paying us because we are providing tremendous service and we’re losing a fortune.”

The U.S. is hardly “losing a fortune” in military aid.

Lie #14 : Falsely claims NATO allies aren’t paying the U.S.

Trump: “We pay approximately 73 percent of the cost of NATO.”

Not even close .

Lie #15: Falsely claims the U.S. paid Iran $400 million.

“One of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including four hundred million dollars in cash nobody’s ever seen that before that turned out to be wrong.”

As the New York Times notes, the money Trump referenced “was Iran’s money, for military goods never delivered to Iran after the Iranian Revolution.”


Trump’s lies about crime

Lie #16: Absurdly suggests America is experiencing a crime wave.

“We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African-American, Hispanics, are living in hell because it's so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot. In Chicago, they’ve had thousands of shootings, thousands, since January first. Thousands of shootings. And I’m saying where is this? Is this a war-torn countr y?”

Far from a crime wave, points out that the violent crime rate “is lower than it has been since 1970” and “the murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate nationwide, at 4.5 in 2014, was at its lowest point since at least the early 1960s.”

Lie #17: Baselessly says stop and frisk “worked very well” in New York.

“You do stop and frisk, which worked very well—Mayor Giuliani is here worked very well in New York.”

Katherine Krueger of TPM writes that a “2013 report from the New York attorney general found that out of 2.4 million stops by police between 2009 and 2012, the stops resulted in a 3 percent conviction rate, and just 0.1 percent of the total stops went on to a violent crime conviction.” Other cities that did not use stop and frisk experienced similar dips in crime, and one study, according to the Washington Post , “found that a high rate of stop-and-frisks was not associated with reduced crime when the practice was indiscriminate.” New York City’s crime rate continued to fall after stop-and-frisk was ended.

Lie #18: Falsely claims the murder rate in New York went up after the end of stop and frisk.

Clinton: “Well, it's also fair to say, if we’re going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor crime has continued to drop, including murders. So there is—“

Trump: “You're wrong.”

Clinton: “No, I'm not.”

Trump: “Murders are up.”

Trump is wrong: Homicides in New York have been on the decline.

Lie #19: Falsely claims stop and frisk wasn’t ruled unconstitutional.

Lester Holt: “Stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.”

Trump: “No, you're wrong. It went before a judge who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her and our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal.”

Trump is wrong: Stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in 2013 .

Lie #20: Falsely claims ICE endorsed him.

“I was is endorsed by ICE. They’ve never endorsed anybody before on immigration. I was just endorsed by ICE.”

ICE is a federal agency and has not endorsed Trump, or any other candidate for that matter.

Rick Joyner: Donald Trump Is Just Like St. Peter

Last week on “The Jim Bakker Show,” Rick Joyner said that Donald Trump is the “warrior leader” that the U.S. needs at this time of war and insecurity.

Joyner, a conservative televangelist, even compared Trump to St. Peter, saying that like St. Peter, Trump is outspoken, bold, tireless and, absurdly, “humble.”

“All I’m saying, I’m just saying, I’m just saying, he is going to say some outrageous things but he’s an honest man,” Joyner said of Trump.

Pat Robertson: Halloween Is Satan Worship

Today on “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson advised a viewer not to let her son attend a haunted house on Halloween and instead to explain to him that the devil is using the holiday to try to “destroy you.”

“Mother, don’t let your babies grow up to be demon-worshippers, if I can quote from Willie Nelson,” he said. “Don’t let him do it.”

Robertson said churches should organize their own alternative events with “all the nice, pretty girls and all the handsome boys” where “they’re praising the Lord instead of worshiping Satan.”

“Halloween has become a night when the devil rejoices,” Robertson added.

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