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D.C. Reporters Just Make Sh*t Up, Part 1,489,890,992,384

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I was reading this [link fixed], the zillionth "analysis" of political populism from a Washington, D.C.-based reporter, when I came upon this pretty perfect example of how Beltway journalists just make sh*t up:

The country today is different. America has an enormous middle class that is heavily invested in the financial system and is hardly about to organize for its overthrow...

People who have lost half the value of their 401(k) plans, in other words, want to regain it by having the economy rebound, not by seizing the assets of ExxonMobil Corp.

If this reporter was even the slightest bit interested in whether this banalia was true, he would have spent all of 5 seconds on the Google and found that actually, empirical public opinion data shows that Americans are quite supportive of "seizing the assets" of oil companies like ExxonMobil.

As USA Today reported a few months ago, a windfall profits tax -- a tax to seize oil company assets -- is wildly popular, according to its surveys. This was the same finding as ABC News' earlier poll. Indeed, even the conservative-leaning Rasmussen found that just 47 percent of Americans oppose complete and total nationalization of the entire oil industry.

But, you see, when creating D.C. myths - in this case, the myth that Americans celebrate being ruled by corporate special interests, want no change, are completely happy with the status quo, and love oil companies - Washington reporters aren't interested in actual data. They live in a world of six-figures and lobbyists and cocktail parties - a cloistered gated community whose residents are nauseated by the idea of "seizing assets" of the wealthiest corporations in the world. And so these reporters assume the consensus of that gated community is the consensus of the majority of Americans who live outside that gated community - even when the hard data says exactly the opposite.

I wonder if instead of working in the factual world, I should just start making sh*t up. It would save me so much time in my work to not have to, ya know, verify anything. I could write entire columns just saying the first piece of conventional wisdom that came into my mind, without even bothering to see if it was true. Wow...what an easy life that would be.

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David Sirota is a full-time political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He blogs for Working Assets and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. He is a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. His 2006 book, Hostile Takeover, was a New York Times bestseller, and is now out in paperback. He has been a guest on, among others, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and NPR. His writing, which draws on his (more...)

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