Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 9, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

IS THE MEDIA LIBERAL?....OR JUST CONFUSED?....Newspaper stories about poll results are always great fodder for people looking for media bias. After all, every poll has dozens of questions, but the headline usually has room to highlight only one. So which will it be?

Well, the Los Angeles Times conducted a follow-up poll last week after Colin Powell's UN speech, calling the same people from a previous poll to see if opinion had shifted regarding war with Iraq. Here's the headline:

Many Desire U.N. Backing for War on Iraq

Most Americans believe Colin L. Powell was persuasive, but support for action falls from 62% with Security Council backing to 55% without.

I have to say that I found this choice odd. The whole point of the poll was to find out if opinion had changed, and as the Times states in the body of the story, they found "a slight increase in support for unilateral military action."

What's more, the story goes on to say, "But there remains a deep desire to avoid war," while later admitting that 55% of respondents "support a military action with some allied backing, but without U.N. concurrence." Since this is, in fact, the current situation, it's a little hard to figure out where they managed to come up with this "deep desire to avoid war."

And on another front, compare these two questions:

Q: The United States should take military action against Iraq only it has the support of the U.N. Security Council? 62% agreed.

Q: If the Security Council does not approve military action against Iraq, but the U.S. has the support of some allies, such as Britain, would you support or oppose taking military action? 42% opposed.

Aren't these pretty much the same question (no UN approval = no military action)? Considering the rather small difference in wording, doesn't a 20% gap in the responses seem a bit odd?

The full poll results are here.

Kevin Drum 1:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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