The Starting Line – The Mechanics of Voter Manipulation as Practiced by San Diego’s Daily Paper

Ever the Republican Party’s polls aren’t as optimistic as the UT-SD

The UT-San Diego continues to work hard to prove their marketing claim that they are no longer a general circulation newspaper.  Between the (front page editorials), their nurturing of a cultural wasteland that celebrates white male privilege and the blatant misrepresentations masquerading as news they have destroyed whatever “goodwill” the business may have accumulated over the last century.

Today’s UT mediaplex is nothing more than a megalomaniacal metaphor for a megaphone used by one man and his toadies to trumpet their twisted view of the universe, a universe where the basic tenants of civilization are under assault by unwashed hordes who will -no doubt- steal their money, take ‘their’ women and weaken the very DNA of the species through miscegenation.

One need look no further than this weekend’s Associated Press profile of UT-San Diego, where CEO John Lynch proudly proclaimed the company’s pro-business, pro-family and pro-military bias, adding “anybody who isn’t shouldn’t be living here.”  Money quote:

 “We think our country is on the edge of real, real danger, and you have to stand up, and that was a huge part of why we bought this,” said Lynch, vice chairman and chief executive officer of U-T San Diego, the newspaper’s new name.

 The editorial page named Obama the worst U.S. president and predicted a second term will result in “Arab terror states” attackingIsrael, “death panels” rationing health care, income tax rates between 60 and 70 percent for many Californians and an attempt to get taxpayers to pay for late-term abortions. It warned of an effort to erase “In God We Trust” from U.S. currency.

Editor Jeff Light somehow keeps up a brave face as he insists Publisher Doug Manchester and CEO Lynch are not meddling in the ‘news content’ of the organization.  While he may keep the more outrageous right wing falsehoods out of local reportage, the emphases and omissions speak just as loudly to the public as the “bold’ new graphics and better quality organization of stories do.

Acts of Omission and Commission

A case in point would be the ‘leaking’ by the DeMaio campaign of emails from U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy regarding a recent mayoral debate.  The story was so one-sidedly spun that Congressman Bob Filner was painted as a loose cannon, sullying the very dignity of the Jewish community group hosting the debate.  Left unsaid was the provocative behavior of DeMaio and the obvious conflict of interest inherent in a debate organized by one of his financial backers.  And, of course, there has been no coverage of the calls for the resignation of the U.S. Attorney in question.

These acts of commission and omission are daily occurrences.  I have reached the point of wondering whether or not pointing them out serves no purpose other than to publicize the company’s product—which is propaganda packaged to deceive, not the information that consumers might believe they are receiving.  None-the-less, there is an election at hand, and the Dark Lords of Mission Valley are seeking to cast a shadow over the most sacred rituals of our democracy. So I feel duty bound to press forward with my expositions on their conduct.

The latest tactical device employed by the UT-San Diego has been the manufacture of polling data. Over the past few days, three surveys of public opinion have been rolled out via Manchester’s minions.  All three of these events have been carefully curated in a manner so as to mislead the would-be reader in ways that favor the publisher’s political leanings.

In a truly competitive media market these polls, conducted by the USD Center for Education Policy and Law and the DC-based Glover Park Group, would have been quickly dismissed for the obvious attempts to frame the survey in such a manner as to influence the result. And any journalist worth his/her salt would have suffered a career ending challenge to their credibility for portraying them as anything less than quackery. (I’ll explain the how the UT’s money men pulled this off in a few paragraphs.)

 The first poll claimed that the GOP candidate (Rep. Brian Bilbray) in the race for the 52nd District Congressional seat was ‘winning’ by nine percentage points over challenger Scott Peters among registered voters.

 The second poll purported to inform the public that Manchester’s candidate Carl DeMaio had magically jumped into the lead over Bob Filner in San Diego’s mayoral race—by seven percentage points, no less.

 And the third poll, featured on the front page of today’s print edition, seeks to promote the agenda of the agency that manufactured the first two findings.  Likely voters were asked about mayoral involvement in public schools, leaving out the vital fact that there is no overlap between the City government and the school district.  So, of course, a huge majority of people who were asked concurred with the notion that the Mayor needed to be involved with local public education. To say other wise would be the moral equivalent of advocating beating baby panda bears at the San Diego Zoo.

Let’s Look at the Players in This Scheme

Let’s dissect this foolishness by first looking at the institutions recruited by Manchester’s minions. Then we’ll show you the seriously flawed methodology used to basically guarantee the results they were looking for.

Scott Himelstein doing the bidding of the UT-SD

Exhibit one is the University of San Diego’s Center for Education Policy and Law.  Back in the days of Jim Copley’s reign over the San Diego print scene, the University of San Diego was flouted by the publisher as a remedy to the creeping communism that was at the heart of the newly founded UC San Diego.  Herbert Marcuse, the right wing’s favorite 1960s leftist boogie man had tenure there.  A group calling itself the Yippies disturbed the peace in downtown La Jolla, causing several matronly types to have palpitations. And there were BLACK PANTHERS known to be visiting the campus at all times.

Then publisher James, his wife Helen and even the socially challenged David all contributed money, publicity and fundraised for the Catholic University on the hill.  From reader Bob Dorn, himself a former Copley employee:

 The model for the Educational Policy and Law Center would be Stanford’s Hoover Institute, which is dedicated to the growth of top-down elitism. The other model, obviously, would be the Catholic one, a hierarchical system of monsignors and moldy opinion molders implying eternal damnation to those who believe all people were created equal and that church and state should be separated. Doug Manchester is Catholic. So were the Copleys.

 Those of you who follow these things may remember Stanford’s Hoover Institute recent mentions on the news, as the sponsors of the No on Proposition 37 commercials were forced to yank them off the air when it was revealed that spokesman Dr. Henry Miller, (the tobacco industry shill) wasn’t really a Stanford University professor, but was an employee of the Hoover Institute.  Miller also touted a past affiliation with the Food and Drug Administration in the ads which were designed make his claim seem as it was boasting of current relationship.

The front man for USD’s Center for Educational Policy and Law Center (CEPAL) is one Scott Himelstein, whose main mission in life since being canned by the San Diego Unified School District as an assistant to controversial Superintendent Alan Bersin has been to badmouth the district whenever possible.  An astro-turf group organized by Himelstein called San Diegans for Great Schools collapsed a couple of years back after failing to get an initiative on the ballot that would have amended the City charter to erode independence of SDUSD from city government.  He would have a ‘friend’ government should DeMaio win.

Exhibit two in this example of polling fraud is the Glover Group, established after the end of the Clinton administration by various well-connected members of that administration.  These guys are hired guns, who’ll take on any cause regardless of moral or ideological bent. From a brochure describing the group:

 The Glover Park Group specializes in creating favorable operating environments for businesses, industries and nonprofits by crafting and disseminating compelling strategic communication campaigns to influential audiences.

 Some of the people that they’ve worked hard to create ‘favorable operating environments’ for include:

 The government of Columbia, who Glover defended against a history of attacks by that government against trade union members

 The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which hired the firm to wage a 2008 campaign against corn ethanol

 Pharmaceutical companies and groups representing insurance companies who manage the medicare prescription drug plan in their fight to keep the ‘doughnut hole’ provision that was expensive for seniors, but profitable for the industry

 A lobbying effort secretly paid for by Verizon which involved crafting a poll slamming “onerous Net Neutrality regulations” when that measure was being considered the U.S. Senate. This work, which involved manipulating questions to get desired results, was done for Glover by Public Opinion Strategies, a right-wing polling outfit with ethical “challenges”.

 And most recently they’ve switched sides on ethanol issues, as Glover’s been hired by the Renewable Fuels Association to make sure that federal standards for inclusion of corn based ethanol in the nation’s gas supply are not modified in the wake of high prices and shortages due to last summer’s drought.

Rigging a Poll 101

Now that we know who the willing partners were in this polling scam, let’s look at just how they did it.

The most obvious part of these misleading polls are the limitations that UT/CEPAL/Glover placed upon who was polled.  By narrowing the audience to a base that will usually vote more conservatively, they upped their chances of getting a more ‘favorable’ result.  In the case of these surveys down there in the fine print you’ll find that excluded from even answering the poll were

Employees of a newspaper, television/radio station, marketing/public opinion research company or the City of San Diego – or who live with someone employed in one of those fields– were excluded.  [Emphasis mine]

Their opinions don’t count

If you realize that government is one of the largest employers in the region, a broad application of those restrictions could eliminate much of the population. (The part about media employees, etc., is fairly standard.)  Even a literal interpretation of those restrictions would mean that no San Diego firefighter, policeman or trash collector could be included in the results.

I could go on about how the questions in the polls were phrased, etc, but my fellow editors here frown on my rants running too long. By now you should get the point. The books were cooked.

Even the DeMaio campaign, whose internal polls furnished by the GOP, should them in a dead heat with Filner was taken back by these results published in the UT-SD.  The Peter’s campaign reportedly has results from a historically reliable source diametrically opposed to those reported in the newspaper.

The point of all this misinformation is to discourage or encourage, as the case may be, certain blocs of voters from exercising their privilege.  The best way to beat this is just to go vote.

I have a lot more “dirt” on this election. Tune in tomorrow.

On This Day: In 1844 this day is recognized as “The Great Disappointment” among those who practiced Millerism. The world was expected to come to an end according to the followers of William Miller. In 1961 Chubby Checker appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and performed “The Twist.”  In 1975 Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich was discharged after publicly declaring his homosexuality. His tombstone reads ” “A gay Vietnam Veteran. When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

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On This Day: Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Escondido (Welk Resort 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive) 1pm –Sunset

I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org    Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.


Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatarKeninSD says

    Doug, thanks for this article! The more I read about these trolls, the more I feel like washing my hands!

    Like you, I’m not sure whether just ignoring these clowns is enough to make them go away. Given what little critical coverage they get among the people who need it most, it may take a very long time before their ilk will be ignored. Until then, voting against anyone they support is the least we can do to clean up San Diego.