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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Markos Bets The Ranch

Markos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos, has accused Research 2000 of defrauding Daily Kos in conducting research polling.

The accusation is about as inflammatory as one can get. For professional pollsters, a reputation for fairness and accuracy is everything.

The damage to Research 2000 will be substantial, if not deadly.

Moulitsas could have simply filed suit, and the media could have run with the story based on what was in the court filing. Since court filings are absolutely privileged, Moulitsas could have put his accusations into the public domain without putting himself at legal risk for defamation and other torts. Instead, Moulitsas has issued multiple press statements even before filing suit.

Moulitsas better be right in his accusations, or he can kiss his personal fortune and Daily Kos goodbye.

Let the lawsuits begin.

Update 6-30-2010: The attorney for Research 2000 and its owner, Del Ali, is threatening legal action too:

Ali's attorney, Richard Beckler of Howrey LLP in Washington, told TPMmuckraker in an interview, "This guy [Markos] is completely all wet. This allegation of fraud is absurd." He added, "These guys are basically ruining Mr. Ali's business."

Beckler promised to take "some kind of action soon against all of them" -- referring to Kos and the three authors of the analysis calling R2K's data into question.

Two pieces of good news in this story. First, a lawsuit will bring out the truth not only as to whether Research 2000 committed fraud, but the interaction between Markos and the polling firm. Was Markos pushing the polling firm for certain results, what was he telling them privately, etc. The e-mails between Markos and Research 2000 may be more interesting than the JournoList.

Second, the more money Markos spends fighting Research 2000, the less money he has to fight conservatives. I would not be surprised to see Markos set up a legal fund to fight this battle seeking donations from the base. Donate away, as far as I am concerned. Every dollar donated to Markos' lawsuit is a dollar drained from some Democratic candidate somewhere.

Research 2000's polling has been questioned as to accuracy for a long time. On the eve of the Scott Brown-Martha Coakley election, Research 2000 showed a dead heat, which Markos trumpeted, while other pollsters showed Brown with a significant lead. Research 2000 was wrong, but were they fraudulent?

Markos accused Rasmussen of being nothing more than a Republican puppet, and trying to set an anti-Democratic Party narrative, Rasmussen's (dishonest) game. While the allegations against Rasmussen clearly were political gripes, the allegations against Research 2000 are much more serious.

Markos made his fortune shooting his mouth off. Now he may lose that fortune the same way.

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  1. I'm speaking from a position of profound ignorance, but what Kos is doing seems a bit irrational. Dose this story have demensions we don't know about? Doth Kos protest too much?

  2. One more good thing about all this: It's fun to watch 2 sons of the left tearing each other apart.

    Really. It's a LOT of fun.

  3. I suspect that Markos has the dirt on Research 2000 or he wouldn't speak up. After all, he has much more than money to lose; his and Koz's credibility with their own constituents is at stake too. It would not be the first time a polling outfit in the process of trying to establish itself in an increasingly competitive business cooked the numbers to avoid the pesky costs of actually running thousands of interviews (all the more tempting when you know the client will be pleased with the concocted results). Back in the 70s, I had dealings with one such polling firm (long since disbanded) that was found to have made up results when the partners had a falling out with each other. It happens, and clients looking for a bargain instead of a firm with a reputation to lose must always beware.