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Brent Bozell
L. Brent Bozell
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Washington Polling Games


It has become almost amusing, watching how the so-called "news" media are manipulating their own polls to keep the political weather sunny for their hero. The Washington Post kicked off President Barack Obama's European trip with the headline "Blame For Downturn Not Fixed on Obama." Of course, what was "fixed" was the poll itself.

They did the usual tricks for a more liberal sample of "public opinion" — they polled on the weekend and oversampled Democrats (36 percent Democrat, 25 percent Republican). By themselves, these things are shameless — but expected. And still that wasn't enough of a slant. Check out the way this question was asked by the Post pollsters.

"How much of the blame do you think [fill in the blank] deserves for the country's economic situation?" The choices were corporations, banks, consumers, the Bush team and the Obama administration. There's a built-in pro-Obama bias in there already: assigning blame to Obama for the current economy when he's been in office for nine weeks just seems harsh to most people. But just because they (correctly) don't blame him as the primary cause for our current woes, this doesn't mean for a second that the public endorses his "solutions," as the Post suggests.

But the Post questioners traveled beyond natural polling for politeness. They wanted to know why we fault these sectors. Is it the corporations "for poor management decisions"? Is it the banks, for "taking unnecessary risks"? Did consumers take on "too much debt"?

These are fair descriptions, I think we can say. But now check how they identified the problem when it was a politician: Should the public blame Bush for "inadequate regulation of the financial industry"? Or is Obama to blame for "not doing enough to turn the economy around"?

What kind of left-wing pollster wrote these questions? Is Obama "not doing enough"? We're being buried in trillion-dollar Obama proposals, and he should be faulted for "not doing enough"? How about the crazy idea that maybe, just maybe, he's doing too much? This question makes sense only if the goal is to assist Obama politically.

The Post drew the numbers they wanted: While every other politician and group was blamed "a great deal or a good amount" for the downturn by at least 70 percent in the poll, Obama was only blamed to that extent by 26 percent.

So Obama's trying to implement socialism at 120 miles per hour, and with a straight face, the Post reported that 62 percent of those surveyed still see Obama as a "new-style Democrat who will be careful with the public's money," while 32 percent see him as an "old-style tax-and-spend Democrat." An accurate assessment by the Post would conclude that a) Obama's accelerated socialist policies make most conservatives pine for the good old days of "tax-and-spend Democrats" and b) 62 percent of the public has no idea what is going on in Washington — primarily because they rely on outlets like the Post for their "news."

Then there were poll questions that the Post editors didn't want on the front page — or even anywhere in the poll story by political reporter Dan Balz and pollster Jon Cohen.

On the front page, Post readers saw the big news — a bar graph showing that 60 percent approve of how Obama is handling the economy. But if you look at the Internet and read the actual poll, there's another number the Post deliberately left out. Pollsters asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the federal government's overall response to the economic situation?" Forty-nine percent said they supported the overall federal government response.

So who, boys and girls, is the "federal government? It's controlled by a Democratic president, and a strongly Democratic Congress. One could clearly state, then, that less than half of the public supports President Obama's economic agenda. But the Post ignored this so as to trumpet the opposite.

This is one important reason why newspapers are on shaky financial ground. Washington Post readers who are not completely on the Obama bandwagon should see the discrepancies described here and feel completely manipulated. The Post is loading on the bias, coming and going, manipulating the polls after it paints pretty presidential pictures on the front page.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... If you want people to lynch Mr. Obama for the economy; why bother??? Do you think most republicans need an excuse to lynch a black man??? My guess is, that if all legal impediments to doing so were removed, the moral restraints would be a small matter... What do you think??? In consideration of the human condition as a constant through time and ages, I would say, that people like yourself, working for the greater ignorance and the spiritual poverty of mankind have the wind at their backs, and are pushing the matter down hill... When you seem so close to total success; do you need my cheer??? Forgive me, but I seem to have misplaced my encouragment...You will have to carry on without my moral support....Thanks....Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Wed Apr 1, 2009 7:38 AM
Polls in the first 100 days of ANY presidency are totally meaningless. Even talking about them is an exercise in stupidity. You can't change the results of the past election, and it is even more unlikely that polls will change the direction of policy.
One thing I can see is that polls seem to show that the "just Say No" Republicans are becoming less and less popular. Polls should alert them to the fact that they have to find new ideas. That is going to take time because Republicans seem locked firmly in the past of the 1980's an just don't get it that the public has moved on and will move farther and farther away from the ideas of the last century.
First, Republicans, now led by simpleton Rush Limbaugh, need to get over the results of the past election and their obvious jealousy that the Democrats beat the daylights out of them and look for new leadership. Bobby Jindal ain't it. Zero Charisma. Sarah Palin ain't it. Zero credibility. Best shot is the current Gov of Florida. Rob
Comment: #2
Posted by: robert lipka
Wed Apr 1, 2009 8:19 AM
I'm never disappointed by the bias and ignorance of your columns. However, I must say that the utterly illogical conclusion of this particular column has left me more frustrated and stunned than usual.

You quote a poll stating that 49% of the public supports the federal government's response to the economic crisis, and use this as the basis to say that less than half support the president's economic agenda. This leap of logic is either even more idiotic than your typical low standards, or purposely misleading and irresponsible of you. I fully support the president's economic agenda, but do not support how Congress has pushed it forward. Through the weakness of congressional Democrats, and the irresponsible and ignorant blind-faith party-line reaction of the obstructionist Republicans (coupled with their fans in the news media such as yourself), Obama's economic agenda has been watered down and distorted. The fact is that the government has not acted boldly enough.

But the truth of the matter is that governing towards public opinion polls is part of the problem in Washington. Most of the public is completely ignorant of current events, politics, and certainly global economics. People only repeat the BS lines that propagandists like you feed to them.
Comment: #3
Posted by: KPSilverman
Wed Apr 1, 2009 4:23 PM
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