Friday, October 12, 2007

Open letter to Allen Wastler of CNBC

Here's what Allen Wastler of CNBC had to say to Ron Paul supporters this morning:

"22 hours ago
An Open Letter to the Ron Paul Faithful
Topics:Economy (U.S.) Economy (Global) Economics Politics & Government White House
Editor's Note:

Dear folks,

You guys are good. Real good. You are truly a force on World Wide Web and I tip my hat to you.

That's based on my first hand experience of your work regarding our CNBC Republican candidate debate. After the debate, we put up a poll on our Web site asking who readers thought won the debate. You guys flooded it.

Now these Internet polls are admittedly unscientific and subject to hacking. In the end, they are really just a way to engage the reader and take a quick temperature reading of your audience. Nothing more and nothing less. The cyber equivalent of asking the room for a show of hands on a certain question.

So there was our after-debate poll. The numbers grew ... 7,000-plus votes after a couple of hours ... and Ron Paul was at 75%.

Now Paul is a fine gentleman with some substantial backing and, by the way, was a dynamic presence throughout the debate , but I haven't seen him pull those kind of numbers in any "legit" poll. Our poll was either hacked or the target of a campaign. So we took the poll down.

The next day, our email basked was flooded with Ron Paul support messages. And the computer logs showed the poll had been hit with traffic from Ron Paul chat sites. I learned other Internet polls that night had been hit in similar fashion. Congratulations. You folks are obviously well-organized and feel strongly about your candidate and I can't help but admire that.

But you also ruined the purpose of the poll. It was no longer an honest "show of hands" -- it suddenly was a platform for beating the Ron Paul drum. That certainly wasn't our intention and certainly doesn't serve our readers ... at least those who aren't already in the Ron Paul camp.

Some of you Ron Paul fans take issue with my decision to take the poll down. Fine. When a well-organized and committed "few" can throw the results of a system meant to reflect the sentiments of "the many," I get a little worried. I'd take it down again.


Allen Wastler

Managing Editor,

Questions? Comments? Write to"

Well, Allen, as someone else said: you guys are smug, really smug.

Here's my emailed reply to

"Allen Wastler:

I'm not buying your garbage. We Ron Paul supporters are way more numerous and way more dedicated than you'd like to admit.

But it seems you have your head stuck in a dark place.

Your attempts to marginalize Ron Paul are obvious, and now a matter of public record. CNBC stinks, frankly.

Have a nice day.


Now it seems CNBC has changed their tune:

"My Open Letter To Ron Paul Supporters
Posted By:John Harwood
Topics:Presidential Politics (2008) Print Media Politics & Government White House

I have been reading e-mailed complaints from dozens and dozens of you about's decision to take down our online poll gauging results of the CNBC-MSNBC-Wall Street Journal presidential debate.
Ron Paul
I agree with the complaints. I do not believe our poll was "hacked." Nor do I agree with my colleagues' decision to take it down, though I know they were acting in good faith.

My reasoning is simple: Political dialogue on the Internet, like democracy itself, ought to be open and participatory. If you sponsor an online poll as we did, you accept the results unless you have very good reason to believe something corrupt has occurred--just as democracies accept results on Election Day at the ballot box without compelling evidence of corruption. I have no reason to believe anything corrupt occurred with respect to our poll.

To the contrary, I believe the results we measured showing an impressive 75% naming Paul reflect the organization and motivation of Paul's adherents. This is precisely what unscientific surveys of this kind are created to measure. Another indication: the impressive $5-million raised by Paul's campaign in the third quarter of the year.

To be clear: I believe that Ron Paul's chances of winning the presidency are no greater than my own, which is to say zero. When he ran as the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 1988, he drew fewer than a half-million votes. In last week's Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll of Republican primary voters--which IS a scientific poll with a four percentage point margin for error--Paul drew two percent.

He lacks the support needed to win the GOP nomination, and would even if the media covered him as heavily as we cover Rudy Giuliani. Why? Because Paul's views--respectable, well-articulated and sincerely held as they are--are plainly out of step with the mainstream sentiment of the party he is running in.

The difference we are discussing--breadth of views vs intensity of views--is a staple of political discussion and always has been in democracies. Highly motivated minorities can and do exert influence out of proportion to their numbers in legislative debates and even in some elections. They most certainly can dominate unscientific online polls. And when they do, we should neither be surprised nor censor the results.
--John Harwood "

Fair enough. I'll be updating this post with my reply in the next day or so. OK, here it is:

Open Letter to John Harwood:

I do not believe your colleagues were acting in good faith. After all the crap CNBC has already pulled, you guys have zero credibility.

I believe you have a duty to the public to cover all the candidates fairly and equally. Clearly you disagree, you have your own agenda. As far as I'm concerned, you have no journalistic integrity. Are you just sock puppets for the oligarchy?

I have searched your site in vain for a Code of Ethics, but couldn't find one, presumably because you have no ethics.

Consider this my public vote of No Confidence for CNBC.


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