Pechangas Fund Smear-Job Push Poll Before California Online Poker Vote
Smear-job politics have resurfaced amid the contentious legislative and political in-fighting surrounding the ongoing events to legalize online poker in California, the US’s most populous state. In the latest developments, and just prior to yes important passage from the state’s Assembly Appropriations Committee of Adam Gray’s AB 2863 measure, a curious “survey” claiming California’s citizens are against online poker almost, but not quite, emerged.
It’s a curious little tale of dirty politics and press manipulation, even if it might end up being lost in the larger news of AB 2863 itself moving on to full California Assembly consideration. Expect it to resurface down the road, likely when AB 2863 approaches a full Assembly vote.
The tale involves a curious feature published on Monday in the Los Angeles Times by Sacramento-bureau political beat writer Patrick McGreevy, and it’s a wonder of lies by omission from headline to finish. Titled “Survey finds California voters opposed to legalizing Internet poker,” the piece presents the findings of a supposed consumer poll commissioned in recent days by several (if not all) of the half dozen casino-operating California tribal nations who have continually opposed AB 2863.
Four of the six known tribal opponents of AB 2863 are identified as sponsors of the poll, including “the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Barona Band of Mission Indians and the Lytton Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians.”
And what of the findings being preseented? Let’s enjoy a few excerpts.
A survey Monday commissioned by several Native American tribes with concerns about legalizing Internet poker in California found a majority of California’s likely voters oppose the idea.
Before hearing any arguments for or against, the survey found that 52 percent of likely voters oppose allowing online poker games, which is proposed by a poker legalization bill by Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). It would legalize and tax online poker in California.
That’s a mouthful of nothingness right there. Simply in the act of identifying oneself for the purposes of conducting the survey, the title of the contacting group can predispose respondents to answer in certain ways. And we’ll return to the “Before hearing any arguments…” thing in a bit.
In the meantime, one has to question the whole purpose of this poll, and what appears to be a very specifically-placed story. Aren’t these the same half-dozen tribal-casino groups who bristle at the mere mention of the word “obstructionist”? Keep that one in mind as well.
When those surveyed were told Internet poker is illegal in the state but thousands of people still play it without consumer protection, 41% supported legalization and 51% opposed.
Some 74% of voters agreed that foreign websites that violated federal law by accepting U.S. users should be disqualified from getting a license in California.
“When those surveyed were told….” Oh, it’s a push poll! Designed to elicit a specific response! Not that there was much doubt anyway, but it’s still good to know. And what might “we” be pushing herein? “Internet poker is illegal in the state…” Uh, no. It is not illegal for consumers to play online poker in California. It is an unregulated activity. So not only is this a push pull designed to elicit a certain response, it’s been pushing lies.
“Some 74% of voters agreed that foreign websites that violated federal law by accepting U.S. users should be disqualified from getting a license in California.” In other words, the surveying group told the respondents that someone broke the law, then asked if they agreed with that assessment, true or not. It’s actually hard -not- to get a favorable response with such a based question. And what it really is is just a continuation of the ongoing attack against PokerStars and its parent company, Amaya, done here in blind-reference form, likely for dropping into the legislative debate at a later debate.
Such a pile of published excrement must include a mandatory quote. (It’s in “Roberts’ Rules of Publishing Shit.”) So, natch:
“Voters are clearly skeptical about legalizing online poker,” said Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro. “Even more toxic are provisions that would grant a license to foreign websites that illegally took bets from Californians in violation of federal law.” “Voters are clearly skeptical about legalizing online poker,” said Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro. “Even more toxic are provisions that would grant a license to foreign websites that illegally took bets from Californians in violation of federal law.”
Well, so much for those denials of obstructionism. That’s called speaking from both sides of one’s mouth.
Now, for bonus, points, let’s move onto methodology… as in the utter lack of all mention of such a thing. Consider this:
- It’s never disclosed exactly who was surveyed, or how many responses were included. For all we know, this could have been a survey of Agua Caliente loyalty-points VIPs;
- No mention of the survey work appears to have been announced or distributed via formal press release by the surveying firm, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz. The firm also did not respond to a media inquiry seeking more information on the supposed study;
- None of the tribes involved seem to have done any announcement regarding this survey. Such stuff normally shows up on Pechanga.net… but not this time;
Mention of the supposed survey did not, at last check, appear anyway other than the McGreevy LA Times piece. What’s odd is that McGreevy, though a Sacramento political-beat writer, has generally been anti-online poker in previous stories. It’s McGreevy who first reported the news of Cali US Senator Dianne Feinstein opposing the legalization of online poker in California, noting that for all her influence in California politics, she doesn’t even get to vote in Sacramento on this issue, since she’s in Washington D.C. instead.
What this really appears to be is the Pechanga group making use of a friendly, obstructionist ear, in one of those little trade-offs that will likely give McGreevy continued reporting access to these tribal nations down the road. What it isn’t, however, is any sort of legitimate news reporting. It’s an even more fact-free variation of the orchestrated push-poll of consumers served up last year by Sheldon Adelson’s CSIG group, which purported to support many of the same claims.
As a smear job, though, or one that’s in the process of having its framework laid, it’s unfortunately par for the course.