Last Updated:November 30 @ 05:13 pm

Chavez: Media Bias and the 47 Percent

By Linda Chavez

The narrative of the Romney campaign as portrayed by most major media last week has been one of a tone-deaf, elitist candidate. In a presidential race as tight as this one -- the Gallup daily tracking poll Thursday showed the candidates tied at 47 percent -- the media potentially can tip the balance for or against a candidate in a decisive way.

Most outlets ran with the stories suggesting Romney was describing 47 percent of American voters as government-dependent slackers who pay no taxes. In fact, Romney suggested nothing of the sort. The videotape of Romney's remarks received publicity after James Earl Carter IV -- grandson of former president Jimmy Carter -- promoted the tape through the left-wing magazine Mother Jones. It turns out, the version of the tape available via Mother Jones was edited, with important sections left out.

But even the edited version didn't justify the media feeding frenzy it provoked. Romney did not say 47 percent of Americans were freeloaders. What he did say was: "There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what." His words were simply a statement of fact. The electorate is polarized, with each party winning the loyal support of nearly half of the voters.

But the most controversial parts of his comments had to do with who makes up the 47 percent who are unconditionally in Obama's camp. It's important to note the context in which the statements were made. Romney was answering a direct question, which asked: "For the last three years, all everybody's been told is, 'Don't worry, we'll take care of you.' How are you going to do it, in two months before the elections, to convince everybody you've got to take care of yourself?"

His reply listed among the 47 percent who won't vote for him those "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what."

But Democrats have been encouraging Americans to believe just that since the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. And President Obama reiterates it every time he has the chance. So why is Romney's repeating the Democratic mantra controversial? Isn't it logical to assume that those who support President Obama agree with him about the role of government in providing health care, housing, food stamps -- you name it?

Romney has said his statement could have been made more elegantly. But inelegant or not, he was right; we are becoming a nation of people who depend on government. Nearly half of Americans pay no income tax -- Romney suggested it was 47 percent, coincidentally the same percentage that support Obama. But even though many of these people contribute payroll taxes, income taxes are what pay for government spending outside Social Security and Medicare.

All Americans share the benefits of national security and other necessary government programs, but nearly half of them contribute little or nothing to pay for those programs. Democrats believe this is as it should be -- we should just tax the rich more. But what does it say about a nation when half its population contributes so little to the protection and services they enjoy?

Of course not all those dependent on government subsidies are Democrats or Obama supporters. Seniors make up the biggest share of dependents. Most seniors feel that they've "earned" their Social Security checks and Medicare benefits. In fact, the majority of recipients will receive substantially more in benefits over their lifetimes than they contributed.

But Romney's larger point was that it's harder for candidates who want to talk about personal responsibility and smaller government to make headway when an increasing share of the population become recipients of government largesse. And it's harder still when the media distort what the candidates actually say and the context in which they say it. Romney summed up his answer by saying, "what I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center ... " He wasn't writing off half the country but outlining a strategy to win the election.

The media's attempt to twist Romney's statement moves them from being journalists to partisans. And in an election this close, media bias just could be the deciding factor.


Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal."


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  1. billwvComment by billwv
    September 21, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    Ms Chavez: I understand your thinking; but I disagree with your conclusion. I believe that a lot of people in the 47% range that Romney cited are very willing to vote for Romney / Ryan and here is why I make this statement: A lot of people have lost jobs and incomes and are desiring a ‘jobs president’ who will not only talk but will deliver. We have had a ‘say a lot president’ who has been a ‘do nothing president’. I think that when all is brought to the climax of the November election; Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will win BIG. The American people do not like being played for ‘suckers’.

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  2. CharieComment by Charie
    September 21, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

    bwv, I agree with you. I’m not sure how Ms. Chavez arrives at the conclusion that SS recipients are part of what are now called entitlements, either. My husband started paying into SS when he was 15 yrs. old as did I. He was in the Marines for 3 years, came out and started working and paid into SS taxes all those years plus all the other taxes. Had we started receiving interest, compounded all those years I do believe it would have been enough to support us in our old age. We’ve had life insurance policies that have paid us dividends and which we’ve allowed to pile up interest and it seems to accumulate at a rapid rate.

    I want somebody to figure out what the actual amount would be instead of just tossing out estimates. If I’m wrong, I’ll admit it.

    Back to the subject at hand. Yes, there will be a lot of us O.F.s around who love our country more than we love wanting to be taken care of, and those who know what Obamacare is actually all about, who will vote for Romney/Ryan.

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    • dfinchComment by dfinch
      September 21, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

      Social Security and Medicare have always been logged in the the entitlement groups when no one agrees with the definition. We all knew what he meant. Those who wouldn’t have voted for him anyway have spun it. I’m in that 47% but I still pay income tax. I knew exactly what he meant.

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  3. grannylakeComment by grannylake
    September 21, 2012 @ 5:11 pm

    Romney’s comments will have little effect on the election results.
    The people that aren’t going to vote for Romney still won’t vote for Romney.
    The people who are going to vote for Romney are still going to vote for Romney.
    The undecided voters are people who are weighing all of the information that is presented by both sides and will understand Romney’s message when they listen to the full unedited version of the tape in question.

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  4. vevaComment by veva
    September 21, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    How and where will they be able to listen to the “unedited version of the tape” in question?

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  5. mrwilsonComment by mrwilson
    September 21, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

    Media bias since Gutenberg. People were saying the same things 100 years ago about their newspapers. No change…In this article the writer is simply picking at bones.

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  6. mredComment by mred
    September 21, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    I’m sorry, but I do not agree with you about this being a close election with the polls showing it close. Those polls are rigged and biased to show it this way, since they over sample democrats. If a true poll were to show up, I’ll bet it would not be close and that Romney would be well ahead of Obama. The polls and media are all trying to convince you that there is no hope of getting Obama replaced and that he will win this election. The only way he will win is if they pull out all the stops and use every means possible to rig this election. That means getting all those dead people, double voters, pets, and duel state voters to count and to make sure that the military vote is thrown out again just like last time. The only way this election will even be close is to convince enough people to stay home and not vote. If these people in fact do show up and vote, then Obama is going down no matter what strings he pulls short of stopping the elections altogether. Obama is doing good only because the media and warped polls make it so, but that does not mean he is even close in this election, it just means that they are trying to convince you that it is really this close. If they would tell the truth, it would show that Obama is behind by at least 15 points and maybe more. I think most people that voted for Obama in the last election have had their eyes opened and will never vote for this sorry person again. He and his wife can go back to the hole they crawled out of and stay there. I also think his wife should be made to pay back all that money she cost tax payers for her vacations and shopping sprees. She is the sorriest First Lady this country has ever had…………….

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  7. JDZComment by JDZ
    September 21, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    There are a lot of Americans who do not pay attention to politics and are not aware of how bad our economy has become under the Obama administration and actually could care less and that is not good for Romney. The latest polling in the critical swing states are all favoring Obama with voters there saying Obama is doing a good job with the economy. How maddening and sad is that? These people are either too old to hear and read, or are living in an alternate universe with President Obama.

    My only hope is that over the next 50 days that the Romney campaign starts bombarding all of these swing states (Florida, Ohio, Virginia, etc) with their political ads and are successful in turning around the insanity that is out there and waking up these people to how uninformed they are, and how bad of a mistake they are making for the country if they vote for Obama.

    I also think that these polls are being manipulated to a large extent in favor of Obama. I do not trust any of them to be representative of the heart of America. I hope that when it comes time to vote for socialism (Obama) or capitalism and individual freedom (Romney) that the American voters rise up and throw out the most inexperienced, inept, radical, and arrogant man ever elected President.

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    • mredComment by mred
      September 22, 2012 @ 11:41 am

      Your right. The polls are being manipulated to show that Obama is running close to Romney, when in fact that is not true. He is losing in most of those states he is supposed to be so close in, but the Democrats don’t what you to know that. They want you to loose heart and give up and just not vote. The more of you that give up the better it is for Obama. With all his dead voters and the rest of his voting block, he still needs you to give up on voting so he can steal this election. This is typical Chicago tactics and works well there.

      I am amazed that Obama has not been impeached so far. He has to have someone looking out for him, or they would have thrown him out long ago. If the Congress were not so corrupt, they would have had him impeached a long time ago. I am not looking forward to what Obama does during the time we are waiting for Romney to take office. He will trash the White House and steal everything that is not tied down. I am also looking for him to release a lot of people from Jail we don’t want out and grant amnesty to a bunch of people like Holder so they don’t get thrown in jail after Romney takes over. We also need to clean out some of the top brass in the military that is going along with Obama and his trashing of the military. Some people in the military are being persecuted for doing what they are supposed to do and what has been standard operating procedures for a very long time.

      It is past time we brought GOD back into this country and throw all those idiots out that are trying to get rid of any mention of GOD. I am not a religious nut case, but I will take GOD any day of the week over Obama and his crowed. Separation of Church and State is the biggest lie that has come forward so far and the fact that they are getting away with it really burns me up. It is taken totally out of context and does NOT mean what they are trying to say it means. It’s time for GOD fearing people to throw out the GODLESS jerks and take our country back and dedicate it to GOD again, just like it used to be………………..

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    • cdrcodyComment by cdrcody
      September 22, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

      Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll has been hovering around Romney 47%, Obama 45% for the past month at least. It varied slightly because of the conventions, but that is expected as there is a certain amount of hype involved. I would put more credibility to anything that Scott puts out than anything produced by the left leaning organizations. If I remember right, Reagan was behind by several points at this point in his election bid. Persoally I think everybody is waiting for the debates before the make their decisions. If Romney doesn’t come on strong and clean Obama’s clock he may not get in.

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    • canada3dayerComment by canada3dayer
      September 22, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

      actually I think that trying to manipulate polls in favour of Obama with the intent of making voters on the Romney side just kinda give up and go oh well why bother to go vote, Obama’s just gonna win anyway would have the exact opposite effect – I MUST go vote, we can’t allow this doofus to have another 4 years to ruin this country and I’m gonna do what I can to prevent it.

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  8. noveldogComment by noveldog
    September 22, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    If G. Soros’s news media can not vote Romney wins. As simple as that. Just shut down the stations two days before election time and the tide will swing back to Mitt.

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  9. noveldogComment by noveldog
    September 22, 2012 @ 11:37 am

    Make the news media report how much G. Soros, Warren Buffet, ad BHO, and Biden, and Pelosi, and Harry Reid are worth. Folks will soon realize that the one per cent is acutally the Democrats who have been lying to them. It is what they do…tax and lie, and spend, spend, spend.

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