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Believe it or not, the idea of a media cabal is absurd

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Expect conspiracy theories to be revived with reports of a poll Tuesday showing President Barack Obama leading his Republican challenger 51 percent to 47 percent in the great swing state of Ohio.

The conspiracy chorus was somewhat muted earlier in the week when a national poll by the Pew Research Center, whose surveys are considered Democratic-leaning, had the post-debate Mitt Romney drawing 49 percent of likely voters to the president’s 45 percent.

The Tuesday poll from CNN covered only Ohio, but any uptick for Obama could send scheme-seers spinning again, weaving a plot line that has liberal media types huddling with polling enterprises to concoct results to kill Republicans’ fight, leaving them in such despair that they won’t even cast ballots come November.

Well, Pew apparently didn’t get the skew-the-numbers memo and neither did a host of others as Obama got good lickings in surveys this week.

The idea of a media cabal working together for a candidate is ridiculous, and anyone who is saying this could happen is either trying to inflate his Arbitron or Nielsen ratings or needs to take off the tin-foil hat.

News people are a diverse bunch with a range of duties. Some sit pretty before a studio camera, others lug laptops through Libya. Still more work at keyboards, post on blogs and websites, fix grammar and punctuation.

Even if conspiracy adherents were to limit plotters to the political news species, they’d still be hard-pressed to support their notion.

Covering presidential politics day in and day out can’t be easy or much fun. Plodding from city to rural town and back again to hear a stump speech they could probably recite themselves is tiring enough for reporters just to think about.

I mean, if voters are sick, sick, sick of the unceasing half-truths, full-on lies and the he-said, he-saids, you can imagine how bored the boys and girls on the campaign buses are.

They’re kind of watching an everlasting race in which cars go round a track, one inching slightly ahead of another for a while, then falling back as the other takes the lead.

After a while, they want something to happen, maybe not a collision, but at least what they call a “narrative change.”

Which is what they got with the debate last week. Romney’s “transformation” from stiff, rich CEO who dismissed the 47 percent to self-assured pitchman for a presidency played well against an Obama who looked like he didn’t want to be there and, in fact, really didn’t show up.

If the debate injected Romney’s campaign with enthusiasm, it also administered a dose of stimulants to the ravening pack of political writers and talking heads.

I don’t mean to speak poorly of those in this profession because, generally speaking, the ones in the trenches work hard to pierce through the press releases and dog-and-pony shows, to provide people with news that can be useful and to help them choose a president or a local prosecutor.

But admittedly the noise level sometimes gets too high. So I’ll shut up now. I’ll revive myself next week — after the second Obama-Romney debate.

Cynthia Oi can be reached at

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