(This article was originally published on Oct. 12th, 2007. I was able to put it up just before a trip to six flags that day. When I returned home, I was flabbergasted by the number of views it had received. It had gone up on Rense.com and infowars.com and made its way across the blogosphere like wildfire. It is likely my most widely disseminated article ever.)
The letter this article refers to can be found here:
I read your explanation for taking down the Ron Paul poll and I must say I was taken aback. First, let me say that the opinions expressed here are my own and I speak for no one else. That said, I’d like to say thank you for your backhanded compliment “You guys are good. Real good.” I say it’s backhanded because of the implications it leaves unsaid. When you follow it up with the accusation that the poll was hacked, it implies that the “Ron Paul faithful,” as you call them, have done something wrong. Hacking is a practice where someone breaks into a website's server or even a personal computer and changes programming code or steals data, usually for nefarious purposes. Often when this happens, fingerprints are left. Hacking is a crime. It is the destruction or theft of someone else’s property, the cyber equivalent of breaking and entering or defacing private property. If you are accusing someone of hacking, you should produce proof and try to catch the perpetrators. In fact, if your organization had been paying attention they should have seen that this kind of activity has happened in the past and they should have been prepared. Your organization should have the resources to do something about that. There are ways to stop hackers, just as there are ways to stop burglars. But your poll wasn’t exactly hacked now, was it? In fact, by your own admission, you said the poll was flooded, which isn’t exactly hacking.
Now, let me return the compliment, but I will be a little more forward about it. You, sir, are also good. You are good at minimizing the significance of an event. You are good at taking facts and spinning them into something they are not. If you were an alchemist of old, you may have been able to take lead and turn it to gold. You compliment the “Ron Paul faithful,” calling them good, recognizing that they are well organized and feel strongly about their candidate on the one hand, and then you chastise them for expressing their strong feelings in a fair and significant way on the other. As far as I know, everyone had equal access to your poll and anyone with access to a computer could have voted on it. Am I wrong? Was there some flaw with the poll that somehow caused the followers of other candidates to not be able to vote? Were the Huckabee faithful somehow denied access? How about the Giuliani gang? McCain’s crowd? If I had felt Thompson stood out from the rest of the candidates, would I have been somehow forbidden from voting for him? If this is the case the fault is yours and not that of the “Ron Paul faithful.”
You say your poll may have been the target of an organized campaign and suggest that the participants came from Ron Paul chat rooms. So what? It is a campaign, sir. It is called a political campaign. Any other candidate could have mobilized his supporters to do the same, if he had that kind of support. It is part of the democratic process we in this country seem to take so much pride in. What you are doing, sir, when you complain about such things, is in essence shaming the “Ron Paul faithful” for paying attention. You are shaming them for taking action. You are shaming them for supporting their candidate. And, more importantly, you are trying to stymie their attempts to express their point of view. It is not the fault of Ron Paul supporters if supporters of other candidates do not show up to vote in your poll.
You say this poll was the cyber equivalent of asking the room for a show of hands on a certain question. I like that analogy. What you have done is in essence come into the room which was full of Ron Paul supporters, asked them a question, and then told everyone to put their hands down, that you really didn’t mean to ask that question, when you saw how many hands were raised.
Now I have a few unproven suggestions of my own to make to you, but before I do let me say that you, at least, do acknowledge that Ron Paul is a fine gentleman with substantial backing (more than “some” substantial backing) and that he was a dynamic presence at the debate. That is much better than the talking heads and pundits on TV. I congratulate you for recognizing those characteristics, but to follow it up with the statement that you haven’t seen him pull those kind of numbers in any “legit” poll makes one wonder if the compliment was put there simply for the purpose of keeping the “Ron Paul faithful” from questioning the follow up statement. Well, I do question the follow up statement. I question the legitimacy of your so called “legit” polls. Isn’t it possible that perhaps those polls are simply asking the wrong people? I know I’ve never been polled. Perhaps the people that are coming out in support of Ron Paul no longer have land line phones and therefore can not be contacted by your so-called “legit” polls. Perhaps many of Ron Paul’s supporters that watched the debate are not registered Republicans. Perhaps the “legit” polls are simply no longer significant. Or, perhaps there is some more nefarious purpose to these “legit” polls that we are not being told. It seems to me that many polls I’ve seen in the past decade or so have been questionable. I remember more than a few times seeing a poll and thinking “I don’t believe that.” I personally trust the “unscientific” Internet and phone polls that allow anyone to answer more than the “scientific” polls which are somewhat secretive as to how the data is gathered. Even when a poll states how the data was gathered you have to trust that the people conducting the poll did, in fact, do as they say they did. Poll people can say anything they want and I have no way of knowing if they are being honest.
If, however, you want to talk about numbers, and if you trust the numbers shown on “scientific” polls, I’d like to point to the numbers from polls taken on the Iraq War. It seems to me that poll after poll shows that public sentiment is more and more against the war. I’ve seen numbers between 65-80 percent of the public are against the war. Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate that has come out against the war. You took down your poll when Ron had 75 percent of the vote. That falls right in line with the numbers against the war. Perhaps the poll makes more sense to you now.
You suggested that a well organized and committed “few” can throw the results of a system meant to reflect the sentiments of “the many.” Are you suggesting that there are only a “few” Ron Paul supporters? After nearly thirty thousand votes, Ron Paul is leading with 86% of the vote in some categories. If you think the same “few” people are repeatedly voting, I suggest you figure out a way to stop that. CNBC.com should have plenty of resources to do that, and if you don’t I suggest you hire someone. Most Internet polls won’t let you vote more than once from any one Internet connection.
I suggest that CNBC is trying to influence the perception of who “the many” support. How much time did Ron Paul get to speak at your debate compared to the other candidates? How many questions was he asked compared to the others? Why did the commentators afterward focus so much on the other candidates? Why is Ron Paul so often referred to as a “lower tier” candidate, even after he was able to raise over 5 million dollars in the third quarter? Remember, this was 5 million from everyday, hard working Americans, not money from corporations which the other candidates depend on. In fact, I wonder what candidates CNBC or any of its affiliates have given money to. That’s a lot of money from the masses of humanity, and that suggests to me that Ron Paul’s following is much larger than you, sir, are willing to admit. I also know that when I talk to people on the street or at work, a great many of them are behind Ron Paul. TV might be very influential on how people think, but we still talk to each other and we still know the difference between the reality of the real world and the fantasy of the tube.
One last point I’d like to make. It doesn’t surprise me at all that your poll shows so many in favor of Ron Paul, and it has nothing to do with hacking, spamming, or targeting. It has to do with people being fed up. People are fed up with the same old, same old. They are fed up with being lied to. They are fed up with giving politicians a mandate and then having those same politicians refuse to follow through. Many are even fed up with the news media not doing their job. They are fed up with the way the world is run. They are fed up with being disenfranchised by the political system. Ron Paul is a breath of fresh air. He is obviously a man of principle. He offers a message of freedom and hope. He offers us a break from the corruption that has permeated the government. He praises our Constitution. He is the only candidate running for president that, in my opinion, can take this country in a different direction, a better direction.
Sir, I believe your letter was disingenuous. Time and again your letter belittles the efforts of Ron Paul’s supporters while complimenting the people themselves. Time and again you imply that Ron Paul has little support. Your evidence of “legit” polls not showing the numbers is conjecture at best and the method itself is either outdated or misinformation at worst. The evidence presented by the Internet and (cell) phone polls taken after the debates of the last few months is more accurate, in my opinion. The evidence presented by Ron Paul’s fundraising, the volunteerism of his supporters, the people on the street when you talk to them, the signs spontaneously going up, the videos online, the meetup groups, the songs, all these things are evidence of a grassroots movement the likes of which haven’t been seen in this country since 1776. You, sir, as the general manager of CNBC.com should not be worried about the results of a poll so much as you should be making sure that everyone has fair access to that poll. You should not be in the business of suggesting to me what to think so much as you should be in the business of presenting the results and letting me decide for myself what to think. I can make up my own mind, thank you very much.
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