Exposed: Media bias and off-mark polls

By Parveen Chopra
Executive Editor
The South Asian Times

 We are no poll pundits, but The South Asian Times’ front page banner headline in our last issue before the US election said: ‘Too Close to Call’. Most of the media was predicting a comfortable victory if not a landslide for Joe Biden till then. But, as of Thursday, the election is so close that it has not yet been called for President Trump or the challenger.  In 2016 again, we led the pre-election issue saying the then outsider Donald Trump looked better positioned to beat Hillary Clinton, when the mainstream media (MSM) was saying the exact opposite.

This is not to gloat over our news sense, but to point to the widespread bias in the mainstream media in America, which stands severely exposed after the results started coming in on the evening of Election Day. There was no landslide, the presidential election was a nail-biter, which seemed to go Trump’s way first as he defended  Florida and Ohio. But the opinion polls showed a 10% national lead for Biden. The final tally on Thursday had Biden lead by over 2.6 points. And except for a couple of polls called outliers, others showed an average 3-4 point advantage for Biden in the battlegrounds. Trump over-performed averages from the much hyped FiveThirtyEight by 7 points in Ohio and by 8 points in Wisconsin.

The media organizations say in their defense that they depend on the polls. But then most of the opinion polls are done at their behest by different agencies. Polls apart, the big networks and newspapers – called the legacy media – have their reporters on the ground all over the country, who should also be able to gauge the mood of the populace.

Trump may be a flawed person as Wall Street Journal accepted in its recent editorial, but he has received 69 million votes, which means they approve of him and his policies, warts and all.  Okay, from liberals point of view, Trump is too right-wing, racist, etc, and raises their heckles.  But Fox News anchors often point out that Democrats and liberals are likely to react the same way even if it was another Republican President or candidate for White House. Remember the fierce opposition to Mitt Romney, when he ran against Barack Obama in 2012. Retrospectively he comes across as a statesman.

To give the devil his due, Trump defied the media, beat the coronavirus and ran a one-man barnstorming campaign to come back from the first debate debacle and came close to the finish line.

We did not and are not endorsing him. What we will say in closing, let us resolve in future to vote and support, neither left nor right, but the middle way, to ensure welfare and well-being of all Americans.

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