Sunday, November 2, 2008

Clueless Stossel

John Stossel, the TV guy, has a column in my local daily today. The local headline, and the gist of the column, is: 'Clueless' folks shouldn't vote Tuesday.

Stossel appears on 20/20, a show I could never take seriously.

He or one of his minions wandered around rock concerts asking young people random political knowledge questions. How many U.S. senators are there? Who's this lady in the photograph (Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Sarah Palin). Does John Stossel look better on TV or in person? From this, the estimable Stossel generalizes to the youth population as a whole, or tries to.

Too bad he relies on this questionable sampling and doesn't look at the (I agree) odd real surveys that show young people are more knowledgeable about the campaign than older voters. He writes:
Is it elitist to say only some people should do brain surgery? If you don't know what you're doing, you are not doing the country a favor by voting."

An old, tired argument. Then again, is it elitist that journalists know what the hell they're doing before getting into a topic they don't grasp?

I sympathize a little. Democratic theory rests on the idea of an informed electorate, but as I've blogged about for a million years now there is a lot of debate on what qualifies as "informed." Some doofy TV guy, no doubt innocent of this debate, is not a source of information or judgment.

Clueless? Methinks a mirror would help him find a lack of cluedom.


Jon-Michael said...

I watched the video for this story (, and many of those interviewed (on camera at least) at the concert were wearing sun glasses -- probably -- to hide their bleary, blood shot eyes. This is certainly dubious sampling, but who can be bothered with things like proper sampling methods when you air once a week.

Where is Dr. Death when you need him?

Hollander said...

Ah, thanks for that link. Gonna put it on today's post. Yeah, some bleery eyed kids who have probably consumed some, ahem, beverages. Too bad he didn't go to a nursing home and do the same thing.