Alexander's Column

Pollaganda — media polls as instruments of propaganda

Mark Alexander · May 12, 2006

“During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare.” –Thomas Jefferson

The mainstream print and television media (MSM) are gleefully abuzz this week with headlines and lead broadcast stories touting President George W. Bush’s latest, lowest public approval rating – 31 percent. It seems Bush(43)’s degraded standing with Americans has dropped below even that of Bush(41)’s low of 33 percent back in August of 1992. Only three other presidents have registered lower approval ratings: Carter, Nixon and Truman.

Not to be outdone by the Executive Branch, however, is Congress, which boasts public approval marks a full eight points lower than those of President Bush.

There are two reasons that the performance ratings for the President and Congress are at record lows – even among their Republican constituents.

The first is obvious. Republicans, who control both the White House and Congress, have managed not to live up to even the lowest expectations for politicians, particularly on domestic issues. Though some Republicans are still conservative, most have fallen into the “distinction without a difference” category: They have morphed into Republicrats.

Ronald Reagan led Republicans and Democrats alike with a resolute conservative mandate and won 49 states for a second term (Walter Mondale won only his home state of Minnesota). However, President Bush and congressional Republicans have not exhibited leadership on many critical issues Americans care about. To the contrary, they have exhibited considerable arrogance and equivocation – assuming that somehow, because of their esteemed positions, the electorate would fall into line behind them.

As The Patriot has noted, President Bush deserves high marks for his leadership in the war against Jihadistan, particularly on the current front – Operation Iraqi Freedom. Even here, though, he and his administration have done a poor job of rallying a majority of Americans behind this critical military campaign.

On domestic issues, however, most notably containing government spending and reducing taxes (with a few minor exceptions), the President and Congress have failed miserably. Additionally, many Republicans have aptly demonstrated how out of touch they are with their constituents on issues such as immigration reform. For example, Senate Republicans are still advocating amnesty for illegal aliens despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not support fast-track citizenship.

Their abysmal performance notwithstanding, there is a second more subtle and insidious reason that Republicans' standing among their own constituents, and the nation at large, is at a low point: Polloganda. Better known as disinformation or dezinformatsia, we’re referring to any campaign of political propaganda masquerading as “objective journalism” designed to advance a liberal bias.

For example, after weeks of relentlessly “reporting” bad news for Republicans, CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer led Tuesday night with “Bad news for the Republicans” and went on to proclaim that a new CBS News/New York Times poll foretells “a dramatic shift in the political landscape.”

Schieffer continued, “Are we about to see a dramatic shift in the political landscape? If the findings of a new CBS News/New York Times poll are accurate, the answer may well be yes. President Bush’s ratings have hit another all-time low at only 31 percent and the Republican-controlled Congress gets even lower marks, an approval rating of only 23 percent. That’s just a little better than 1994, when dissatisfaction was running so high that Republicans wrested control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years from Democrats.”

Gloria Borger added, “Our new poll shows … that change is in the air. By wide margins, the public says Democrats would do a better job of handling most all issues. Democrats are viewed favorably by 55 percent of Americans. Just 37 percent favor Republicans. That’s a complete turnaround from 1994 when Republicans dominated public opinion just before taking control of the Congress.”

Wednesday morning, The New York Times' top headline was, “Poll Gives Bush His Worst Marks Yet.” In the first paragraph, the writer notes, “Americans have a bleaker view of the country’s direction than at any time in more than two decades, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Sharp disapproval of President Bush’s handling of gasoline prices has combined with intensified unhappiness about Iraq to create a grim political environment for the White House and Congressional Republicans. Mr. Bush’s approval ratings for his management of foreign policy, Iraq and the economy have fallen to the lowest levels of his presidency. … The Times/CBS News poll contained few if any bright notes for Mr. Bush or Congress.”

Of course, months of Times headlines and CBS reports prior to this poll had “few if any bright notes for Mr. Bush or Congress.”

To be fair, the last paragraph of this 1,480 word Bush-bashing diatribe includes this tidbit: “Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who was Mr. Bush’s opponent in 2004, had a lower approval rating than Mr. Bush: 26 percent, down from 40 percent in a poll conducted right after the election. And just 28 percent said they had a favorable view of Al Gore, one of Mr. Bush’s more vocal critics.” In other words, with all the favorable MSM coverage Kerry and Gore get, Bush still comes out on top. Perhaps The Times should have headlined this article, “Bush more popular than Kerry or Gore.”

The MSM’s relentless propagation of Democrat-generated dezinformatsia has portrayed Operation Iraqi Freedom as a quagmire, the booming economy as an unjust bust and the President as a [lawless spy | https://patriotpost.us/alexander/2006/01/20/civil-liberties-v-al-qaida-nukes-guess-who-wins/] and has even suggested that George Bush is at fault for high fuel prices. All this certainly has taken its toll in the polls. These polls become self-fulfilling when the MSM incessantly pushes a particular perspective, polls the indoctrinated masses in search of that perspective and then reports the results as “news.”

Americans who agree to answer public-opinion polls about political performance are not political analysts, national-security specialists, economists or policy experts. They are folks who hold common labor and professional jobs in order to support their families and make ends meet. They are the backbone of our nation. Unfortunately, a large measure of their perspective on politics, national security, the economy and public policy is not reality based, but shaped by the MSM.

What The Times and CBS, along with other MSM outlets, are really doing is polling on the media’s effectiveness at indoctrinating readers and TV viewers with opinion-shaping propaganda – or in The Patriot’s parlance, “pollaganda.”

Pollaganda is outcome-based opinion samples (polling instruments designed to generate a preferential outcome) based on prior-opinion indoctrination or cultivation by the media, the results of which are then used to manipulate public opinion further by advancing the perception that a particular opinion on an issue has majority support, and then presenting this “data” as if it were “news.”

We say “outcome-based” because most polls reflect intentional propagation of a particular bias by Leftmedia television and print outlets to manipulate public opinion. They accomplish this by first saturating viewers with “reporting” that reflects a particular bias. After a thorough indoctrination, the media outlets then conduct “opinion polls” which, of course, reflect that indoctrination. Then they use the poll results to further proselytize by treating the results as “news.” This in turn induces “bandwagon psychology” – the human tendency of those who do not have a strong ideological foundation to aspire to the side perceived to be in the majority – and thus further drives public opinion toward the original media bias, ad infinitum.

Pollaganda, then, is self-perpetuating.

Polls are so often manipulated for this purpose that The Patriot NEVER reports polling (conservative or liberal) as legitimate news because virtually all polling is nothing more than a well-crafted lie used to propagate a particular opinion or bias. This is not to say that polls don’t provide an accurate account of public sentiment. It is simply to say that such sentiment is largely a reflection of MSM indoctrination – and thus comports with a liberal viewpoint.

In the final analysis, conservatives are forced to run a considerable and unrelenting MSM opinion gauntlet. Still, if President Bush and Republican leaders would merely listen to their conservative constituents and act accordingly, they would be in a stronger position to defend themselves against MSM pollaganda – and they would enjoy a more favorable standing with the American people.

There is still time between now and November for Republican leaders to make a comeback – but they had better start reversing the trend today if President Bush is to have a shot at fulfilling his most significant domestic-policy legacy – placing one more constructionist judge on the Supreme Court. Democrats know that would do more to restore Constitutional Federalism than any legislation or executive orders in more than a century – and that is why they are pulling out all the stops to regain control of the Senate.