Nate Jackson / June 11, 2015

Free Trade Pollaganda

The free trade debate facing Congress has gotten bigger, and NBC wanted answers about what Americans think of it. So, in a poll this week, the network found that Americans, by a 2-1 margin, oppose a free trade deal. Cut and dry for Congress, right? Wrong. The poll frames the question this way: “Which is more important to you? 1. Protecting American industries and jobs by limiting imports from other countries. 2. Allowing free trade so you can buy products at low prices no matter what country they come from.” The Heritage Foundation’s Bryan Riley notes, “Respondents can choose one answer that makes them sound selfish, or another that makes them sound patriotic: They are either pro-American industries and jobs, or they selfishly desire low-priced goods for themselves at the expense of American industries and jobs.” That, of course, is a false choice, though it provided the result NBC sought. Indeed, it’s yet another great example of pollaganda — using polls to drive, rather than reflect, public opinion. Free trade is a far more complicated question than NBC’s biased poll indicates.

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