Breslin: "You've been had"

The Newsday columnist says pollsters are clueless, Kerry will win big and -- by the way -- "I quit."

Published November 2, 2004 2:53PM (EST)

Strong words from veteran New York columnist Jimmy Breslin in the Election Day issue of Newsday: He confidently forecasts a Kerry victory (which he first forecast in May, as he none too shyly reports) and announces his own retirement from regular column writing, which he has done over 20-odd years in three different New York tabloids.

The headline in the print edition is typical Breslin: "I'm right -- again. So I quit. Beautiful." What follows is every bit as cantankerous:

"When published reports showed a million new voter registrations in Florida and about 800,000 in Ohio, I made the election a lock. They were not rushing out for George Bush. And these poll takers were ignoring them. Any part of a million votes in Florida, most of them of color, would sweep the state.

"The reporters said the nation was divided. They were afraid to say anything that might upset this view. You've been had by the news industry. Not once, even after the first debate when Kerry scored a technical knockout, did they take a step and call it as it happened."

After going on to discuss the estimated 40 million cellphone users between the ages of 18 and 29, many of whom have no land-line telephones, Breslin moves in for the kill. "So you were getting CBS/New York Times polls proclaimed as most important and real. One hundred seventy million cell phones and you don't poll one of them. The polls they are pushing at you in the news magazines, on the networks, in the big papers, are such cheap, meaningless, blatant lies, that some of these television stations should have their licenses challenged."

After singling out Bill Schneider of CNN for ridicule -- "he is their election expert and he said that cell phones didn't mean anything. He's right. They didn't mean anything in 1950" -- Breslin says that the conventional wisdom that young people don't vote will be turned on its head by a one-word issue: the draft. "Every time Bush, or one of these generals he has, stands up and says there will be no draft, everybody young figures this means there probably will be one by January."

Tuesday morning, Breslin writes, he will get up "and stroll to other meadows." He's so confident of a Kerry victory he plans to go to bed early so he can "rise in the darkness and pursue immediately an exciting, overdue project." While his final column has some grandiose moments (as when he claims to have invented the form), his last line is a classic for this workingman's journalist: "Thanks for the use of the hall."

By Andrew O'Hehir

Andrew O'Hehir is executive editor of Salon.

MORE FROM Andrew O'Hehir

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2004 Elections