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Pollaganda -- political polling as propaganda

By Mark Alexander
web posted January 21, 2008

At the time of our nation's founding, journalists, like judges, were expected to comport with the highest standards of objectivity in order to protect the public virtue. Neither has held to that standard.

The press was charged with a heavy burden—that of providing impartial reports about the issues of the day and those running for political office. Unbiased reporting was essential so that the people could discern for themselves what was best for our country.

First Amendment champion James Madison wrote, "The right of freely examining public characters and measures... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of every other right." Likewise, Thomas Jefferson penned, "Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." (Of course, neither Madison nor Jefferson could have imagined the power of television, or that of tabloid media's dumbed-down message for the masses.)

Two centuries later, "the press" is composed largely of Leftmedia propagandists, those who have mastered the art of partiality cloaked as objective journalism.

There are explicit examples of this partiality on the pages of major organs such as The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Recently, when it appeared that The Post's darling, Hillary Clinton, might lose the New Hampshire primary, it ran a front-page story questioning whether Barack Obama was a closet Muslim. Assistant Managing Editor Bill Hamilton later apologized for how the story had been "misunderstood," but the damage was done.

One of the most deceptive techniques used in national election cycles, especially presidential elections, is the countless political polling sponsored by media outlets.

Polls, ostensibly, represent the views of a particular group of voters within an acceptable margin of error, but they are also used for a much more subtle and sinister purpose.

At best, reputable pollsters can get it wrong—even though they poll representative statistical samples and ask objective questions.

For example, in New Hampshire last week, Hillary Clinton was pronounced DOA. Only 24 hours before the primary in that state, ten major polls predicted that she would lose to Barack Obama by a substantial margin—more than ten points. Yet when all was said and done, Clinton, with a little help from her friends at The Washington Post, was the victor.

So, on a good day, objective polling by reputable pollsters can be wrong, even well beyond the so-called "margin of error." However, most media-designed and reported polling is as "objective" as the mainstream media (MSM) outlets that sponsor them.

To that end, it is worth familiarizing oneself with the practice of Pollaganda, a propagandistic disinformation technique where political polling masquerades as "objective journalism" and instead advances a liberal bias.

Americans who participate in public-opinion polls about political performance are not political analysts, national-security specialists, economists or policy experts. They are folks who hold common labor and professional jobs in order to support their families and make ends meet. They are thus the backbone of our nation. Unfortunately, a large measure of their perspective on politics, national security, the economy and public policy is shaped by the MSM.

Pollaganda uses outcome-based opinion samples (polling instruments designed to generate a preferential outcome) reflecting prior-opinion indoctrination or cultivation by the media. The results are then used to manipulate public opinion further by advancing the perception that a particular opinion on an issue enjoys majority support. The MSM then presents this "data" as if it were "news."

I say "outcome based" because most polls reflect intentional propagation of a particular bias by Leftmedia television and print outlets to manipulate public opinion. They accomplish this by first indoctrinating viewers with "reporting" that reflects a particular bias, then conducting "opinion polls" which, of course, reflect that indoctrination.

Then the media uses poll results to proselytize further by treating the results as "news," which, in turn, induces "bandwagon" psychology—the human tendency of those who do not have a strong ideological foundation to aspire to the side perceived to be in the majority—and thus further drives public opinion toward the original media bias, ad infinitum.

Pollaganda, then, is self-perpetuating.

Polls are so often manipulated for this purpose that The Patriot Post NEVER reports polling (conservative or liberal) as legitimate news because virtually all polling is nothing more than a well-crafted lie used to propagate a particular bias.

This is not to say that polls don't provide an accurate account of public sentiment. It is simply to say that such sentiment is largely a reflection of MSM indoctrination—and thus comports with a liberal viewpoint. Conservatives are therefore forced to run a considerable and unrelenting MSM opinion gauntlet.

Given the Left's domination of the mainstream media, it's remarkable that any political candidates to the right of the news editors of ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN or NPR, or their ideological kin on the editorial boards of The Washington Post and The New York Times, ever make it to Washington.

Indeed, several academic studies to assess the political views of national reporters in the major press pools of Washington and New York, conclude that those reporters overwhelmingly self-identify as "liberal" or "Democrat." In fact, only eight percent of reporters say they would consider voting for a conservative—no surprise to objective media analysts.

I do not suggest that there is anything but a benign Leftmedia conspiracy to undermine anything conservative; the bias is largely the consequence of the mass-media zeitgeist and culture, which are uniformly and profoundly left of center. Such liberalism has become so embedded within the collective consciousness of print copywriters and television talkingheads that it flows freely from every front page and broadcast.

So much for the "free examination of public characters and measures." When confronted with the next headline or talkinghead report about the latest poll results, caveat emptor! ESR

Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.


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