Public Policy Polling has found a new way to keep Kellyanne Conway’s claim of a “Bowling Green Massacre” in a recent interview with Chris Matthews alive. They trick people.
As was pointed out, it seemed to be more of a misspeak than propaganda, but others pointed out that she may simply have believed something existed that didn’t, as evidenced by her using the same claim in two previous interviews.
So what impact could this have on the national discourse? Could this be the type of “fake news” that people on all sides are screaming about daily? The type of malicious lie that can permeate watercooler conversations across the country and create false justifications for controversial security measures?
I doubt it.
In fact, I’d say most people don’t even know about the flub. Believe it or not most people don’t consume news and interviews with White House staff the same way they binge Netflix shows.
And as comedian and late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, has shown many times over: people will pretend to know something they’ve never heard of and base their response on how the question is asked.
Here’s a bunch of folks discussing their thoughts on Rob Kardashian’s nomination to the Supreme Court. And here are people gawking about the steamy love affair between Anthony Weiner and Hillary Clinton as revealed through emails where they referred to themselves as “Carlos Danger” and “Lolita Lady-boner.”
Funny, to be sure. But is it an accurate measure of what Americans really believe? Or just a trick question that momentarily embarrasses people?
According to Public Policy Polling, it’s a completely legitimate way to gauge national opinion as revealed by their decision to ask folks about the non-existent Bowling Green Massacre.
By 51/23 margin, Trump voters say the Bowling Green Massacre shows why his Executive Order on immigration is needed: https://t.co/SY2MAfuuiA
— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) February 10, 2017
The twitterverse went into “ermahgerd” mode immediately.
Trump's supporters actually believe the "Bowling Green massacre" happened. HOLY. SHIT. https://t.co/MfswrGv1UF
— Mike Hayes (@michaelhayes) February 10, 2017
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 10, 2017
"…by a 51/23 margin Trump voters say that the Bowling Green Massacre shows why Trump's immigration policy is needed." https://t.co/tRf9CgIBtO
— Justin Simien (@JSim07) February 10, 2017
It’s a great “LOOK HOW STUPID EVERYONE IS!!!11” but it’s predicated on the same phony premise that Jimmy Kimmel trades on. The only difference is Kimmel knows it’s phony and thus presents it as comedy. The media now believes it is written in stone that a majority of Trump supporters believe whole-heartedly in a fake terrorist attack.
This is made most clear by the phrasing of the question in the poll.
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘the Bowling Green massacre shows why we need Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration?’
Notice what’s missing from the options? “The Bowling Green massacre never happened.” This is called a trick question. Designed to push a specific idea and get the desired result. Commonly known as a “push poll.”
In an effort to expose the propaganda of Kellyanne Conway, PPP merely reveals their own penchant for it.
Here’s the kicker: if the point was to show how many people believed in the existence of a terrorist attack that never happened and how Kellyanne was careless by putting the notion out there, PPP does so by exacerbating the problem.
I’ve got a poll question for PPP.
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘More people now have the Bowling Green massacre in their brains than did prior to your trick question’?
(a) Yes, we are hacks
(b) No, but we’re still hacks
(c) Not sure (except for the part about us being hacks which we clearly are)