October 08, 2002
DICK MORRIS says that the New York Times' recent poll on attitudes about the war and the economy is irredeemably slanted. Excerpt:
But take a close look at the poll: The phrasing of the questions is so slanted and biased that it amounts to journalistic "push polling" - the use of "objective" polling to generate a predetermined result, and so vindicate a specific point of view.
It was just such polling that led the Democratic Party astray over the summer and played an important role in catalyzing their (politically suicidal) criticism of Bush over Iraq. Now the Times returns with another poll, on the verge of Congress' vote on a use-of-force resolution, to suggest that voters see the economy as a bigger issue than Iraq. . . .
For decades, responsible journalists refused even to cover public-opinion polls. Then, in a turnaround, they began to conduct them and treat their findings as hard news. Now the process has come full circle: Journalists appear to be using polls to generate the conclusions they want and to validate their own pre-existing theses and hypotheses.
I don't think this phenomenon is as new as Morris makes it sound.
UPDATE: Here's another piece on the same topic, putting it in the context of The Times' more general problem of "editorial creep." (". And those numbers, it turns out, say the New York Times has . . . well, lied about its own public opinion research. Three particular subsets of data make this harsh verdict especially hard to avoid.") There's a link to the actual survey data, too. And Joshua Trevino has more.