Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Sunday, April 23, 2006

  Push polling from Fox News

Via The Carpetbagger Report, I see that Fox, the paragon of blanched news, also fancies itself as a political operative. Their latest poll is hilariously biased. Many of the questions are so leading that they really belong in push-poll.

It starts out like an authentic poll, but quickly veers into GOP la-la land. The entire middle, a score of questions bunched together (# 17-37), betray an attempt to convince the respondents that the nation's economy is super spiffing, contrary to their own misperceptions. This is Fox news pollster as teacher, correcting and chiding pupils to get their facts straight. And who is to blame for Johnny Public's misperception? Why, the media naturally. Check out question # 37:

Considering that over the past twelve months the stock market is up, employment has increased and the disposable income of U.S. workers has increased, do you think the news media has generally done a good job or bad job providing accurate news about the nation's economy?

Rather sadly, for Fox, a plurality of respondents to that question still thinks the media have done a good job. So not only is Fox doing push-polling, but they're doing it incompetently as well.

Another long section of the poll tries to drum up support for Bush's sabre rattling toward Iran. Consider question # 40:

Do you think it would be responsible or irresponsible for the United States to have war plans for Iran already prepared?

Presumably that means war plans against Iran. I wonder if Fox's famed reporters bothered to ask the Pentagon how many countries we do NOT have war plans on file for (or against)? The age-old plan to invade Canada famously includes, for example, elaborate details on bombing their maple-syrup refineries.

Next the Fox poll turns to trying to persuade the respondents (or, as I prefer to call them, the victims) that the Republican Congress can't be blamed for failing to achieve any good for the country. The point seems to be that Congressmen should be applauded for spending so much time in their districts. Here is the kicker, question # 45:

Some people have started calling the current Congress a "do nothing" Congress because they are expected to be in Washington fewer than 130 days this year. Others say that it is not the number of days Congress spends in Washington, but how much has [sic] gotten done. Do you agree or disagree with calling this Congress is [sic] a "do nothing" Congress?

And others still are not wasting time talking about vacation days, and instead are pointing out its many failings. Curious that for all the attention Fox devotes to creating straw men, they can't compose grammatical questions. Perhaps that explains why, once again, they've failed to convince the victims to give the GOP the benefit of the doubt (54% agree that it is a "do nothing" Congress).

I meant it when I said this poll is delicious. Early on, it concentrates its fury on illegal immigrants. Here is just the opening salvo (question # 10):

Do you think illegal immigrants from Mexico should be given special treatment and allowed to jump in front of immigrants from other countries that want to come to the United States legally, or not?

Nobody taught these pollsters about run-on sentences, evidently, though it's fun to see "or not" tucked in at the end. As questions 14 and 15 indicate, the main point of this exercise it to test whether the recent mass protests can be turned into cause for resentment, and thus a wedge issue.

I find many things in this poll to be disturbed about. It's outrageous for any news outlet, even a laughingstock like Fox News, to engage in push polling.

I will add that the responses to question # 8 are appalling, in their own special way:

Who do you think should have the final say on U.S. military matters -- civilian leaders or military personnel?

Astoundingly, 54% of the vicims of this poll said that military personnel should have final say, only 20% said civilians. I don't think that is the answer Fox wanted. The question comes after a string of questions abour Rumsfeld and the retired officers' criticism of him. Perhaps the polls victims were unusually cheesed off at the flagrant attempt to bolster support for Rumsfeld, and by the time question # 8 arrived something just snapped in their brains.

But, otherwise, holy crap! Is this where the militarization of American discourse has brought us?


  • At the risk of laughing at my own jokes, I confess that I like the idea of calling the people polled by Fox News their 'victims'. In fact, it's also the perfect term for their viewership.

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 11:55 AM  

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