Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Newspaper Praises Racist Jokes?

The MTSU poll released Tuesday shows the state's new Republican-majority Legislature gets low approval numbers (34%) and that support for Obama is 11 points higher than the percentage of state residents who voted for him, higher still when ranking Obama's ability to handle the economy, foreign policy and ethical standards.

But what headline does the The Kingsport Times-News place on this survey?

Obama's popular in Tennessee, but so are racist jokes"

Either that's a sign of an uneducated editor or a spin so twisted a person could throw out their back trying to make the comparison. (NOTE: A screen grab from the page I saw this morning is presented at the end of this post.)

The survey does say that 1 in 6 people polled claim they have made a joke about Obama's race -- that's 16.6% -- not "popular" by any math.

Michael Silence notes too that the headline in the Tennessean mangles the numbers:

Obama's popular, but so are racist jokes"

That's really pathetic, and wrong. Both newspapers should be ashamed.

Highlights from the survey:

The poll found that 53 percent of Tennesseans now approve of Obama, even though only 42 percent of them voted for him just four months ago.

Fifty-seven percent express confidence in his administration’s ability to manage American foreign policy. About as many, 59 percent, express confidence both in his administration’s ability to improve the economy and to manage the federal government. And 61 percent express confidence in his administration’s ethical standards. Fifty four percent of Tennesseans say Obama is doing enough to cooperate with Republicans in Congress, but only 24 percent say congressional Republicans are doing enough to cooperate with Obama.

The poll assessed public opinion on a number of issues likely to be taken up during this spring’s state legislative session. For example, 62 percent of Tennesseans say grocery stores should be allowed to sell wine if they are located in areas that already allow the sale of alcoholic beverages. Education ranks highest on the list of things Tennesseans say state government isn’t spending enough money on. Fifty-one percent say Tennessee is spending too little on state universities. Fifty-four percent say the same about community colleges and technical schools, and 62 percent say it about elementary and secondary education. Highway construction ranks lowest, with only 25 percent saying the state should spend more.

Furthermore, 52 percent say abortion should be legal under some circumstances, but not others.

Full survey is here.

UPDATE: The Huffington Post picks up this story as well, featuring some comments from Dr. Ken Blake, director of the MTSU poll:

It seems that Tennessee is awash in jokes about Obama's race even though most people say they don't tell them and most people say they don't find them funny," says Ken Blake, director the MTSU poll. Blake says he and his colleagues set out to quantify attitudes toward racial jokes in the wake of some high-profile gaffes, such as that of Tennessee Republican Chip Saltsman, who distributed CDs of the infamous "Barack the Magic Negro" song.

Blake's poll report says the gap between racial-joke-telling and racial-joke-enjoying suggests people tell racial jokes about the president even though they consider the jokes inappropriate. Or, Blake tells the Huffington Post, "It is possible there is truly a small core of people who broadcast these jokes to everyone else."

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