Alexander's Column

Pollaganda: The Fourth Estate and Public Opinion

Mark Alexander · Sep. 17, 2004

Thomas Jefferson complained in 1804, “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.” Old Tom could not fathom the power of the “press” today.

Given the Leftmedia’s domination of the mainstream media’s primary outlets – print and television – it’s remarkable that any political candidates to the right of the big three talkingheads, Brokaw, Jennings and Rather, or their ideological kin on the editorial boards of The Washington Post and The New York Times, ever make it to Washington. If not for talk-radio, the Internet and a smattering of centrist cable news programs, conservative voices would all be subject to Leftmedia filtration.

Indeed, several studies to assess the political views of national reporters in the major press pools of Washington and New York find that those reporters overwhelmingly self-identify as “liberal” or “Democrat.” A recent survey, in fact, determined that only eight percent of those reporters would vote for a Republican – no surprise to objective media analysts.

The most obvious method that Leftmedia “journalists” employ to shape public opinion is bias; they inculcate the masses with Left-elite perspective by selecting what news to “report” and how to frame it. This sordid practice has been well documented for almost two decades by media-watchdog groups and an intrepid handful of veteran reporters – those who ascribe to a standard of journalistic objectivity.

Of course, a variant of the bias method is the outright lie – for example Dan Rather’s recent promulgation of what are, in all likelihood, forged documents, in a brazen effort to help the Kerry campaign denigrate President George Bush’s service with the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago, and divert attention from Kerry’s embellished service record and emerging evidence of his collaboration with communists in the early 1970s.

In recent years, as a result of greater Leftmedia scrutiny by content analysts, and consumer flight from mainstream media outlets to alternative news sources, the Leftmedia print and television outlets have begun to feign a more moderate and objective political posture. But let’s be clear: This is merely an attempt to conceal an abject bias.

Perhaps the most significant and insidious method the Leftmedia utilizes to shape public opinion, especially in the six-month period leading up to presidential elections, is “media polling,” a subtle scheme of circular propaganda we call “pollaganda.” Indeed, you’ll be hard pressed to find any front page or nightly news broadcast between now and 2 November that doesn’t reference such polling. Of note, polls that support Democrat candidates are often above the fold in lead stories, while polls that are favorable to conservative candidates are below the fold and mentioned only in a negative or qualified context.

Why?

Polling, especially media polling, is most often nothing more than a well-crafted lie masquerading as news – a lie intended to influence public opinion. In political cycles, media polls lead public opinion, particularly the opinion of those who are “undecided,” rather than reflect public opinion and are, ultimately, self-fulfilling.

To explain better the process of polling as propaganda, consider three definitions from The Patriot’s editorial-shop dictionary:

Pollaganda – Outcome-based polling; instruments designed to generate a preferential outcome, which can be used to manipulate public opinion by advancing the perception that a particular issue or candidate has majority support.

Pollagandize – To utilize instruments of pollaganda, or selective poll reporting (reporting mostly favorable polls), to advance a particular bias.

Pollaganda Cycle – The intentional propagation of a particular bias by Leftmedia mainstream television and print outlets to manipulate public opinion by first saturating viewers with “reporting” that reflects a particular bias; second, conducting public opinion polls in concert with like-minded organizations or campaigns, which will reflect that bias; third, further proselytizing viewers by treating these poll results as “news”; and fourth, using pollaganda to induce “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), thus driving public opinion toward the original media bias.

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, a key strategist in Bill Clinton’s campaigns and one of many Leftists who have repeatedly passed through the looking glass between political camps and their news fronts, noted that political scientists “talk about the bandwagon effect, that once a candidate gets in the zone, all of the coverage is good, almost no matter what happens….”

Indeed, Leftmedia pollagandizing of the electorate is an intentional undermining of the democratic process. Pollaganda not only creates a targeted constituency; at the same time it can discourage voter turnout, turning the electoral process into a spectator sport.

This “bandwagon effect” accounts for The Patriot’s policy never to cite political poll results, favorable or unfavorable, for conservative or liberal candidates.

Mind you, we’re not suggesting that there is a deliberate intra-media conspiracy to drive public opinion. Nor are we suggesting that there are not objective and, thus, credible polls, but even the most objective polls are eventually adulterated by the effect of pollaganda.

Leftmedia bias is merely the consequence of the mass-media zeitgeist and culture, which are uniformly and profoundly liberal. Such liberalism has become so embedded within the collective consciousness of television talkingheads and print copy-writers that it flows freely from every broadcast and front page.

So how is it that conservative candidates for national office sometimes manage to receive favorable numbers in the only poll that really counts – the one on Election Day? For the same reason that in January of 2001, three weeks before George Bush took his oath of office, Patriot No. 01-01 offered this analysis (amid the Left’s contention that Albert Gore really won that election): “Mr. Bush [will] unify the nation around his character and agenda and win big in 2004. … Mr. Bush will be doing much more than installing new administration faces after January 20th. He will be restoring a few things that have been painfully absent from the presidency for eight long years – most notably, honor and common decency.”

While we are not among the chattering class of political prognosticators, The Patriot’s editorial staff stands by this assessment today. We do so not because we agree with all of the Bush administration’s policies – indeed, we have roundly criticized many of President Bush’s domestic spending initiatives – but, as we projected almost four years ago, George W. Bush has restored honor and decency to the White House. Further, he is an honorable and decent man – a leader who has proven himself under the most difficult of circumstances while remaining humble.

Unlike his opponent, George Bush is plain-spoken, which is to say he does not speak in the Left-elite’s Beltway dialect. But his plain-spoken manner, combined with his genuine decency and humility, resonates with the majority of Americans across all racial and socio-economic lines.

In other words, the majority of Americans are still good, God-fearing people who, most of the time, are able to break the Leftmedia’s stranglehold on their political perspective and worldview.

On the subject of the Leftmedia, the Bush campaign got some unexpected help this week from (drum roll please) Democrat National Committee Commissar of Propaganda Dan Rather. Last week, The Patriot reported that DNC chief Terry McAuliffe conspired with Rather, who moonlights as a See-BS talkinghead, to release “newfound” records disputing the official evaluations then-ANG fighter pilot Lt. George Bush received between 1970 and 1973 from Lt. Col. Jerry Killian (now conveniently deceased), his wing commander.

Unfortunately for McAuliffe and Rather, the records contain some peculiarities that none of the forensic experts we talked with last week can explain. As of this week, neither McAuliffe nor Rather has returned our calls with an explanation for these oddities.

We did hear back from CBS News President Andrew Heyward: “We established to our satisfaction that the memos were accurate or we would not have put them on television. There was a great deal of corroborating evidence from people in a position to know.”

On Monday, Rather told CNN: “I know that this story is true. I believe that the witnesses and the documents are authentic. We wouldn’t have gone to air if they would not have been (sic). There isn’t going to be – there’s no – what you’re saying apology? I want to make clear to you, I want to make clear to you if I have not made clear to you, that this story is true…”

On Tuesday, Rather told the New York Observer, “If you can’t deny the information, then attack and seek to destroy the credibility of the messenger, the bearer of the information. And in this case, it’s change the subject from the truth of the information to the truth of the documents. This is your basic fogging machine, which is set up to cloud the issue, to obscure the truth.”

By Wednesday, Rather was inhaling smoke from his own fogging machine, claiming that if the documents were forgeries, “I want to break the story.” Really, folks, he actually said that. And then he went on to say that the authenticity of the documents didn’t matter, only that what was in them was true. Really, he actually said that, too.

Why is Rather now virtually conceding that the documents are forgeries? Could be that Heyward sent a memo to Rather telling him that, according to the latest Neilsen ratings, CBS News viewership dropped in virtually every major media market except, of course, San Francisco. Indeed, the See-BS Evening “News” with Dan Rather is now pulling a smaller market share than reruns of “The Simpsons.” D'oh!

By Thursday, Rather was refusing to release the name of his source, though it is likely that the documents were copied at a Kinko’s shop in Abilene, Texas, near the home of one likely source, Bill Burkett, a man whose name does not appear on the roster of any of George W. Bush’s fan clubs.

As of this writing, virtually all of CBS’s “document experts” have refuted claims that they authenticated the documents, and every Leftmedia outlet other than CBS has concluded that the documents are forgeries. Former CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg weighed in on Rather’s pathetic charade: “This is what happens when a news organization operates in a bubble – a comfy liberal-elite bubble. They wanted the story to be true, so they apparently minimized or ignored any information that contradicted their pre-conceived notions. This is the nature of bias in the news.” Added Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, “If it turns out CBS got this wrong, it’s very damaging.”

Gee, Nick – ya think?