Diary

A man with 40 years in newspapers clues me in on "Faux Polls"

**A man I’ll call Bill, was in the newspaper business 40 years, and retired less than a year. He tells me about a tool called Faux Polls.

Regardless of media, radio, T.V., or printed, faux polls have been around a long time, but gaining in popularity, especially this year.

Faux polls are polls which are invented to promote a point, and at the same time, provide a disconnect from the source. In other words, supposed I am the head of NBC and I want to help a given candidate. More effective than an editorial, a faux poll banks on increased believability by disassociating the editorial from the source.

So, what I can do as an NBC executive, is make an attack without being blamed for bias. Here are some examples:

I want to help Barack Obama by saying something negative about John McCain. I find a far-left intern who is wearing an Obama T-sirt. I give her a clipboard and tell her to go out on the street and ask people if they feel Sarah Palin is hurting John McCain.

She returns within a few hours. With a tone of great satisfaction, she reports that 90% of those “interviewed” said Sarah Palin was hurting John McCain’s chances.

**She may have approached 100 people wearing Obama-Biden pins. She may have conducted the “poll” in front of an Obama campaign office. She may have had lunch with her boyfriend and invented the entire poll. Voila! You have another poll showing how Sarah Palin was a big mistake. Which you then proceed to use, any way you can, to hurt the McCain campaign.

So, now it is becoming very popular to slam a candidate, influence voters, and buffer your agency from any criticism of bias, and destroying the validity of your “poll.”

Years ago, there was an outcry that the networks were controlling voter turnout by early reporting of election victories. There was a lot of opposition to keep a tight lid on any election until all the votes were in. This effort was championed, oddly enough, by the left wing.

Now, the Democrats want to circumvent their own election protection, by using polls for exactly the same purpose they fought against. Polls are even worse. You have polls setting the tone for a national election before a single vote is cast. Telling people that John McCain has a 20% chance to win, will keep a lot of Republicans from voting. Why waste the time when the polls make it a foregone conclusion?

Faux polls are the latest way to circumnavigate the letter and spirit of the rules in place. Apparently Barack Obama thinks so much of himself, that getting into the White House, warrants the breaking of any election law, rule, or code of ethics.