Anti-woke story weak

538 fails to deliver the goods on cancel culture, IBD sold, more Kraken! published a provocative story earlier this week claiming “cancel culture” is taking over the hive mind of right-of-center younger Republicans. “One in four … listed it as a top concern, compared to just 1 percent of (similar) Democrats,” the story said.

It got my attention. After all, there’s a lot of evidence the new crop of national GOP elected officials (Madison Cawthorn, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert) are more interested in being anti-woke than pro-wonk. If indeed young, center-right political types have stopped caring about the size and scope of government, entitlement reform, and debt, well, it’s time to stock up on canned goods and, ahem, ammo.

Intuitively, the premise sounds right. Cancel culture grabs attention on social networks, as Mary Katharine Ham told NPR. And it’s not likely to change soon.

“The way that social media is structured, you get a payout for high emotion, for clickability. And your 40-point tax plan is not emotional or clickable,” she said.


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But the 538 story fails to deliver. It relies on a YouGov Blue poll from February asking respondents to pick the five most pressing issues from a list of 20.

“(A)mong younger Republicans, ‘cancel culture’ ranked sixth in terms of overall importance, but for younger Democrats it ranked dead last,” the story said.

But the top five matter. Plus, the 538 story fails to show its work. The crosstabs linked by 538 and in the YouGov news release don’t isolate political affiliation by age group. 

From the data, the top five issues for all Republicans: Jobs and the economy, 58%; immigration and border security, 57%: budget, taxes, deficit, 53%; health care policy, 28%; Social Security, 28%. 

Cancel culture? 19%, below education, terrorism, guns, housing, and the drug war.

Among all respondents age 18-29 and 30-44, cancel culture made the top five among 11% and 8%, respectively. Again, no idea where the 23% of “young Republicans under 45” came from. And yeah, GOP voters may skew older than others, but … 45?

Cancel culture did move the needle among “conservative” and “very conservtive” respondents, coming in at 26% for both groups. Still, that put the issue in fifth or sixth place, depending on the group. Cancel culture seemed to displace education, guns(!), and Social Security from the top five.

Maybe I misread the polling data. If so, my apologies.

If not, the story I feared and expected wasn’t backed up by the data. A slight relief.

As always, check your priors.

Mergers & acquisitions

One of my former employers was in the news. Investor’s Business Daily, where I was front-page features editor for roughly a year, was bought by News Corp. (aka Dow Jones aka The Wall Street Journal). 

This would have been unthinkable when I was there (a long time ago). The Journal was the enemy. We didn’t use the front page as a dartboard, but Bill O’Neil and his team clearly hoped to knock out the Journal’s editorial page as the nation’s go-to source for market-friendly opinions and analysis.

What happens to IBD? No telling. The editorial content is largely online, with print editions published weekly. 

O’Neil’s CANSLIM stock-rating algorithm made him and a lot of individual investors boatloads of money. The recipe to that secret sauce is valuable. But it’s hard to see two standalone daily editorial products surviving. I hope the handful of my friends who are still at IBD come out of this in good shape.

Speaking of News Corp. …

The company may need IBD’s cash flow. Another News Corp. division, Fox News Channel, was sued by Dominion Voting Systems. Dominion wants $1.6 billion in damages for defamation in Fox’s coverage of alleged voting fraud and irregularities — the topic of yesterday’s newsletter. It’s the first time Dominion has sued a media outlet, Axios reports. Smartmatic filed a separate lawsuit last month seeking $1.7 billion.

Clearly, the Fox higher-ups are … aware. Last night, host Laura Ingraham cut off President Trump during an interview when he tried to “relitigate” the 2020 election. 

Wouldn’t want to pour gasoline on a fire.

And a piece of toast

We lost another treasure this week. Jessica Walter. “Arrested Development” was hard to take in large doses, but when you could handle it … RIP, Lucille.

Enjoy your weekend!