Accuracy in Media

It took a focus group to convince Democratic political strategist James Carville what astute Americans already knew about President Obama’s vocal critics: They aren’t racist; they just don’t like his liberal policies.

So now Carville has a message for media squawkers like Maureen Dowd of The New York Times: Get over it! Your racial conspiracy theories are way off base.

Carville’s Democracy Corps opinion research firm yesterday released an analysis titled “The Very Separate World Of Conservative Republicans.” The report, based on focus groups of the targeted subjects in Atlanta and Cleveland, maligns the “extreme disconnect” of conservatives but refutes the notion that their animosity toward Obama is driven by race.

Instead of focusing on these intense ideological divisions, the press and elites continue to look for a racial element that drives these voters’ beliefs — but they need to get over it.  Conducted on the heels of Joe Wilson’s incendiary comments at the president’s joint session address, we gave these groups of older, white Republican base voters in Georgia full opportunity to bring race into their discussion — but it did not ever become a central element, and indeed, was almost beside the point.

The report elaborated in a separate section on race that includes quotes from focus group participants. They are well aware of how the racist myth is being perpetuated. “You would be called a racist” for criticizing Obama, one person said. “You would not like him because he is black. That is what the media [are] saying.”

Even though Carville’s firm gave the president’s critics “full opportunity” for racist rants, none took the bait because, well, they aren’t racist. “Race was barely raised, certainly not what was bothering them about President Obama,” the report said. “In fact, some of these voters talked about feeling some pride at his election.”

It would be great if “the press and elites” that Carville lectured in the report learned something from his analytical epiphany and abandoned the all-Obama-critics-are-racist spin from their coverage. But that’s probably expecting too much.

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