Yesterday I asked what Trump’s rage against the media actually accomplishes. I think signs point to GOP fundraising. At least someone in the GOP is using Trump’s wave of anti-media populism that way.
After this week’s contentious press conference, the GOP sent out an online “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey.” No serious person could argue that the survey is intended to learn anything about attitudes about the mainstream media. The questions are hilariously leading. If you wanted to write a parody of a badly biased survey, it would look a lot like this one.
Here are some of the questions.
- Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement?
- On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans?
- Do you trust the mainstream media to tell the truth about the Republican Party’s positions and actions?
- Do you believe that the media unfairly reported on President Trump’s executive order temporarily restricting people entering our country from nations compromised by radical Islamic terrorism?
- Do you believe that the media has been far too quick to spread false stories about our movement?
- Do you believe Megyn Kelly is a venomous harpy from the deepest pits of hell?
Ok, I made that last one up. But you get the picture. No one responding to this survey is going to vary too far from Trump’s anti-media attitude. It’s not scientific in its content or in its distribution. It’s not intended to be, though I don’t doubt that Trump will trot out the “results” at some point and make a big deal about them.
Let’s face it. The only data this survey was concocted to gather is the email addresses of people sympathetic to Trump’s media mashing. Emails mean money. Trump fans all over social media are sharing the survey and responding to it as if they’re sticking it to the media right along with Trump. Then next week the GOP will hit them up for cash, saying they need to to carry Trump’s fight to the media or some nonsense like that.
What may be the biggest indictment of the mainstream media to come out of this survey is that there are some outlets treating the survey as if it was put out to gather opinions about media and not for purely cynical fundraising purposes.
NPR responded with their analysis of the survey which begins like this.
The GOP put out a survey Thursday night that’s enough to make a social scientist cringe.
It’s called the “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey,” but this “survey” commits a variety of polling sins.
WIRED also critiqued it as if it were meant to be legitimate
The survey asked participants to weigh in on the media’s bias against Trump, on issues like immigration, religion, the economy, and his presidency as a whole. Fair enough. However, as many critics on social media pointed out, the survey’s wording was often loaded, not to mention confusing. Any other critiques aside, questions like these are not the way to get scientific results. “A lot of these questions are designed in a way to confirm a particular hypothesis,” says Carey Morewedge, an associate professor of marketing at Boston University. “They basically are suggesting there is a correct answer.”
In the aftermath of Thursday’s press conference, an angry, shouty affair that felt like a deleted scene from The Americans and left even Fox News feeling unsettled about the president’s virulently anti-press dogma, the White House rolled out an absolutely bonkers “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey” that allows everyone to share how they feel about journalism in America. The survey’s 25 progressively more insane questions appear to have been carefully crafted to cause the hosts of the FiveThirtyEight elections podcast to have a collective on-air aneurysm.
What’s cringeworthy is that there are people who report on politics who don’t know that this is about fundraising.
It’s possible that they’re well aware of the true nature of the survey but have made the calculation that attacking it’s ridiculous content as if it was intended to be serious by the White House will get them more views.
I doubt that Trump’s crusade against the media started as a means of raising money, but I don’t doubt that someone somewhere is encouraging him to continue performances like Thursday’s press conference in order to exploit the people most enthused by them.