Thursday, October 30, 2008

Push Polling Gone Mad

It must be a wet dream for Karl Rove!

I just heard about this yesterday and I was incensed by it... now that I've had a while to do a little more research, I am completely dumbfounded about how a licensed television station can even pretend that they are acting in the interest of their community by doing such a thing.

You may have heard about the local news anchor in Orlando who quoted Karl Marx in a Monday interview with Joe Biden and asked how Obama's tax plan was anything but Marxism. "How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?" she asked.

"Are you joking?" said Biden.

"No," she replied.

In another maneuver that was classic Rove strategy the interviewer went on to ask whether he was seriously implying in his recent speech in Delaware that if Obama was elected we would lose our place as a premier power in the world and be attacked again.

"I don't know who's writing your questions," Biden shot back.

In the interview (which is available online for those who care to see it) she returned to the innuendo that Obama was a Marxist twice, and showed a clear bias in the way the questions were phrased. Anyone who doubted that the interview was biased need only cast an eye at her agenda for the rest of the day to suss-out what her political agenda may have been.

Not only was the Biden interview (according to articles in The Orlando Sun-Sentinel and the Chicago Tribune) posted to the station's website BEFORE it aired - a somewhat unusual move, you want your headline stories to show on the air usually - but the anchor in question went on to grant an interview to Bill O'Reilly.

Granted, she has the right to ask any question she wants to ask. Her station can allow her to show her political leaning. Ignore the fact that she has "the Factor Stamp of approval" from Bill O'Reilly, ignore the fact that her husband makes his living as a Republican Political Strategist who is also a contributor to the McCain campaign, ignore the fact that in a recent interview with McCain she tossed softball questions - the hardest being one that has been in every McCain interview that I have seen; essentially "why can't your campaign get it together?" Another opportunity for McCain to point-out that Obama has not accepted public Financing.

What so irritates me about this is the widespread belief among the masses that what they see on the news must be true. C'mon... you've seen it! You've heard it. "Well! If it was on the news it must be true... there must be some truth to it... Where there's smoke..."

There is also empirical evidence that negative stories (even those which are demonstrably false) have traction. In the case study, the survey located news articles about people accused of crimes who were later exonerated. The coverage of the trial and its verdict were well publicized. In polls a year later, people who were aware of the stories were more than 2-to-1 more likely to think the accused was guilty than that he was innocent. When the actual perpetrator of the crime was caught and convicted in the interim, that number fell to just over fifty percent, but the fact is... the negative story stuck... not the positive.

What this interview was designed to do (in the tradition of a Karl Rove Push Poll) was to put the negative story out there... even though it was couched as a question, the idea is out there and the train of though has departed the station. I can only hope that the populace of the state of Florida is intelligent enough to see this for what is was - Partisan Bunk! Scare tactics.

Wherever you are today, I hope you look at the "news" with a critical eye!

Don Bergquist - October 30, 2008 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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