In case you still wonder why President Trump and his people call it “fake news”…
Here is the headline and first two paragraphs of Scott Clement and Dan Balz’s article, for the Washington Post story on public reaction to a border wall. See if you notice anything just a bit discordant:
Headline: Americans blame Trump and GOP much more than Democrats for shutdown, Post-ABC poll finds
By a wide margin, more Americans blame President Trump and Republicans in Congress than congressional Democrats for the now record-breaking government shutdown, and most reject the president’s assertion that there is an illegal-immigration crisis on the southern border, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Support for building a wall on the border, which is the principal sticking point in the stalemate between the president and Democrats, has increased over the past year. Today, 42 percent say they support a wall, up from 34 percent last January. A slight majority of Americans (54 percent) oppose the idea, down from 63 percent a year ago.
OK, let’s think about this.
We’ll start with the headline and first paragraph, which establish unequivocally that Americans blame Trump and the GOP for the shutdown “much more” and “by a wide margin”. Obviously, therefore, they are highly disgruntled over Trump and his Republican pals for what they have done; I mean, “blame” is a clearly negative reaction, right?
Well, yeah, it is. Our problem lies in the fact that the poll question used to create this headline and first paragraph does not use the word “blame”. It uses the word “responsible”.
Here is the actual wording of the question – which you can see for yourself by clicking here:
As you may know, the federal government has been partially shut down because (Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress) and (Democrats in Congress) cannot agree on laws about immigration and border security. Who do you think is mainly responsible for this situation – (Trump and Republicans in Congress or (Democrats in Congress)?
See the difference? “Responsible” is a neutral word that is used for both positive and negative reasons: i.e. “my supervisor is responsible for me being laid off, I hate her”/”my supervisor is responsible for getting me a big raise, I love her”. By contrast, “blame” is virtually always a negative.
The article, therefore, removed the neutral word, “responsible”, and invented use of the negative word, “blame”. What does that tell you about its intentions?
And there’s more.
The one and only person mentioned by name in this question is Donald Trump – whom, you probably know, has mostly negative approval ratings. But the two faces of Democrat opposition, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, are not named. And they have lower approval ratings than Trump does.
According to the data at pollingreport.com, Trump’s favorability generally sits in the 40% range. Schumer’s is at about 30%, and Pelosi’s averages in the mid-30’s. Therefore, the question is inherently biased by inserting Trump’s name (negative connotation) and leaving out Schumer and Pelosi (who would have more than canceled out his Trump’s negative connotation).
Then we come to the second paragraph. And what do we find? We find that support for the wall has “increased” over the year but still is a “slight majority”.
Is that a fair analysis? Let’s put up the numbers, without the Post’s spin, and see:
Last year: 34% supported the wall & 63% opposed it. This year: 42% support the wall & 54% oppose it.
In one year, therefore, the difference between supporting and opposing the wall went from -29% to -12%. That’s a drop of more than half.
Isn’t that the real story here? Doesn’t it suggest that that, despite relentlessly negative media coverage by the Post and most other mainstream media venues, public sentiment – while still negative overall – is shifting appreciably to Trump’s side?
And, as with the previous question, there’s more:
-Last year: 25% strongly supported the wall & 52% strongly opposed it. This year: 29% strongly support the wall & 38% strongly oppose it.
In one year, therefore, the difference between strong support and strong opposition went from -27% to -8%. That’s a drop of over 2/3.
So, in sum, what this “news article” has done is – either through incompetent reporting or intentional bias – contorted poll data which show an appreciable shift in favor of a wall, into just another “proof” that Trump and Republicans are a bunch of obtuse morons.
Does this surprise you? And, if so, why?
Sadly, this is what the Washington Post has devolved into….along with the New York Times and so many other mainstream media sources.
What a joke they have become. And the damage is all self-inflicted.