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Media loathing for President Trump leads them astray just as it did in 2016

by | Jul 26, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

What a coincidence. I was just about to write a post in which I had begun by thanking people for their kind responses to “The deceitful three-pronged pro-abortion attack on Judge Brett Kavanaugh” that I wrote yesterday when I ran across a story that reinforced my argument many times over.

You may recall that the third of the three prongs was grossly misleading polling data. It was misleading not just for what it said but more importantly for what it didn’t say.

When a pollster poses the question as Roe having “established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion at least in the first three months of pregnancy,” that leads the unwary reader to suppose that three month is as far into pregnancy as abortion is legal, which is totally wrong. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion for any reason or no reason as far into pregnancy as a woman can find an abortionist sick enough to kill her unborn child.

What does have to do with Mark Penn’s column in the Hill titled, “Polling could be missing reality, again”? Glad you asked. Keep in mind that Penn “served as pollster and adviser to President Clinton from 1995 to 2000,” so he is hardly a Republican partisan.

His thesis is one I have yammered about forever and a day. It’s one thing to be deliberately misleading—see the way Roe was described above. But it’s another thing when your bias is so overwhelming that you miss the forest for the trees. Put another way, as Penn does, it’s about the questions not asked.

The collective media hates President Trump with such an abiding passion that they cannot see that the questions they ask give them exactly what they want—negativity toward the President—without understanding what the late Paul Harvey called “the rest of the story.”

Or, in this instance, the more important part of the story.

Penn writes

Notice a disconnect between the polls and the people? The questions focus on the anti-Trump storyline as though the point of the questions is to prove the validity of that coverage. Except for a single query about Trump’s performance on the economy, the rest of the questions are framed in ways that would lead any reader to believe everything the president does is wrong and opposed by the public. Some of it is. But not to the extent depicted. That’s the danger in polls that miss the full story.

In other words if pollsters ask questions that consistently “leave out the other side of the story,” guess what? The man who could not possibly be elected President in 2016 wins 304 electoral votes! As Penn notes in his opening sentence, “The biggest ’fake news’ story of the last few years was that Donald Trump had almost no chance of being elected president.”

One other critically important consideration is found in the remainder of Penn’s opening paragraph along with the second paragraph [the underlining is mine]:

The entire pundit-polling-news establishment (including myself) was wrong, and the expectation was that these institutions would recalibrate their coverage to reflect a true picture of the country. They made an enormous miscalculation and they would, of course, make changes.

Almost two years later, very little has changed in polling and analysis at major institutions and news media. If anything, the polling has drifted even further from reality when you look at the questions being asked and, more importantly, the questions not being asked. You don’t need polls to see the America you live in. You need polls to understand the part of America you don’t know, don’t see, and don’t understand.

If you are the Washington Post or the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times or the three major networks and CNN, you focus on what makes you mad about President Trump. Penn’s point is because these “journalists” are so busy taking their own pulse, they miss the pulse of the nation.

In this case, for example, they miss (among other issues) the power of a revived economy that for many, many people trumps all other concerns.

Penn’s conclusion is exquisitely on point:

Unless the polls really reflect all the sides of the national debate on the issues before us, they will never reflect the nation they are supposed to capture.

Categories: Media Bias