In light of the horrific bombings in London on July 7th, one would think that the media would report an upsurge in support for the War on Terror. But I’m willing to bet that no polls will reveal any such thing—or, if they do, they will be buried on the back pages of the nation’s newspapers. Where are those ubiquitious polls when you need them?
These days, it seems as if the first thing one comes across when one turns on the TV news or opens up a newspaper are the latest poll results. Trying to avoid the “poll news” is almost impossible since 99% of the mainstream media’s news coverage appears to consist of reporting on polls. In some respects, this reliance on polls is part of the dumbing-down of American news coverage. Polls provide reliable sound bites designed to appeal to America’s ever-shrinking attention span. But there’s more to it than that. Polls have become just one in an arsenal of media weaponry employed by the Left to undermine its political opponents.
Here’s how it works. The media, following their own political proclivities, naturally pick up on the Democrats’ talking points of the day, which they then use to come up with polls. These polls are designed to produce what are almost always damaging results for the Bush administration. The negative poll results then proliferate throughout the media and for the next week or two that’s all anyone hears about. Americans are led to believe that these talking points constitute reality, even when evidence to the contrary arises. If such proof becomes impossible to avoid, the media simply moves on to the next talking point without any self-correction or admission of error.
The last round of poll politics revolved around the media’s ongoing attempt to undermine support for the war in Iraq. After softening up public opinion with completely biased reporting on the war in Iraq from day one, it seems that the media had at last triumphed. The results of a recent poll showed a slight decline in support for the war, but still it was nothing to brag about. Nonetheless, it became headline news and all of a sudden Americans were hearing that they had lost the war.
The Bush administration, which really should have addressed this propaganda assault from the beginning, was forced to make its case with the televised speech on June 29. The speech mostly reiterated points the president has already been consistent on, so it was unlikely to change any minds. But it did have the effect of cutting through the media obsfucation and quieting some of the public’s concerns. Undaunted, the media simply moved on to the next talking point — the ludicrous idea that the President intoned the terrorist attacks of 9/11 too many times during his speech. Much like the movie character the Terminator, they are nothing if not relentless.
Speaking of which, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been on the receiving end of similar tactics. Wherever the governor has proposed change, the Democrats in the legislature have resisted, kicking and screaming all the way. Faced with the inevitability of a special election in November, it was time for the media to pull out the latest poll. Lo and behold, along comes a poll showing slipping support for the governor and of course, the special election was to blame. Helped by a steady media campaign over the previous year, the poll was likely intended to add to Californians’ pessimism about the direction of the state. Never mind that any proposals designed to deal with the state’s budget woes have been met by obstruction on the part of the Democrats and their union constituency, it was all Arnold’s fault.
But despite their efforts, the special election will go forward and Californians will likely once again express their opposition to business as usual. How many negative polls will be produced between now and then is anyone’s guess. As leftist desperation rises, so too do the meaningless polls.
The same crowd that worships at the altar of poll politics conveniently ignores polls that don’t represent their interests. A Rasmussen poll that came out a week or two after the bogus Gitmo “Koran abuse” allegations and other media hysteria about nonexistent tortures and gulags was particularly revealing. It showed that 34% of Americans believe that the treatment of Gitmo detainees is “just right,” while 36% believe that the U.S. military is actually too lenient in its treatment. Taken together, these numbers add up to a whopping 70% of the American public with no problem whatsoever with the treatment of Gitmo prisoners.
These poll results make perfect sense in light of the U.S. military’s actual treatment of prisoners at “Club Gitmo.” But if the gourmet Gitmo cookbook filled with tasty Halal recipes designed to torture inmates’ palates isn’t enough to convince detractors, the almost slavish treatment of the detainees’ Korans speaks volumes. Although readily available on the U.S. Department of Defense website, such information is unlikely to be admitted into the mainstream media’s coverage of the subject because it points to uncomfortable truths at the heart of the war on Islamic terrorism. While our enemies observe none of the rules governing humanity, we are expected to react with almost pathological restraint.
Poll politics also occurs in other countries. In Israel for example, the public’s true feelings about the Disengagement Plan — denied expression at the ballot box by Sharon’s government — has emerged through recent polling. As expected by anyone following the situation closely, public support for the plan has been slipping greatly in recent months as Palestinian violence escalates. And it turns out that upwards of 90% of Israelis, far from supporting the expulsion of Jews from Gaza, are in favor of ousting the recalcitrant Palestinians instead. Like most polls that don’t conform to whatever political agenda is being pushed at the time, this one was barely reported in Israel’s mainstream media.
Luckily, the American people have a surfeit of common sense and most remain optimistic about the war in Iraq despite the media barrage. Yet the dangers of allowing phony polls and false talking points to go unchallenged lingers. For they then become part of the canon and are added to the great list of myths formulated by the Left. Included on this list are 9/11 conspiracies, torture at Gitmo, 100,000 dead civilians in Iraq, blood for oil, not enough equipment for the troops, all Abu Ghraib all the time, Dick Cheney and Halliburton, Israel was behind the war in Iraq, Karl Rove is behind everything, and on and on. These are but a few of the fictions that will be intoned for years to come.
Until conservatives gain a stronger foothold in the propaganda war, the war on the battlefield is at peril. The Left, along with the media, was able to undermine the Vietnam War and they’re trying to repeat their victory today. That they not succeed in their efforts is critical.