There was great alarm in media and on Twitter as a poll suggested 51% of Republicans consider the media to be “enemies of the people.”

{Gasp} That’s terrible. Probably Trump’s fault.

Except it was mostly the poll’s fault. You can get different answers to the same question depending on how you phrase the question and phrase the answer. This one was a doozy. What, you may ask, were the alternatives to the media being “enemy of the people” and “important part of democracy”?

There were none.

Now, as far as I am concerned, the media is an important tool for democracy and is not an enemy of the people, but the way this question is set up most people are going to read it as “Do you like the media? Yes or no?” And a little over half said no. Maybe that’s not optimal, and maybe Trump takes some of the blame for that or that takes the blame for Trump. But those are different questions than the alarmist one about whether or not they are enemies of the people. And polls like this don’t really help.

I’m not really going to bat for the GOP and their voters’ relationship with the media. I’m willing to believe that they are overly hostile to the media. But you’re going to need a better poll than this to demonstrate it.


Category: Elsewhere

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

5 Responses to The Question Behind The Question

  1. I also think there are ways in which each statement can both be untrue or maybe even both be true.

    The “media” may not be a particularly important tool of democracy and at the same time not the “enemy” of the people.

    At the same time, though perhaps less plausibly, the “media” can be important part of democracy and yet be opposed to (an “enemy” of) “the people” if one conceives of “the people” as “the majority” (or some other definition).

  2. KenB says:

    I was surprised that Quinnipiac would put together such a poor poll, so I read up on it — the actual question was treating the two options as the two extremes and asking which one is “closer to your view”. So it seems a little more reasonable that way, but still begging to be misinterpreted.

  3. Brandon Berg says:

    I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that they’re an enemy of the people, but if their reporting on subjects I know well is representative, they’re so bad at their jobs that I’m not sure their contribution is a net positive. I’d probably be in the 12% that didn’t choose either option.

  4. ScarletNumber says:

    How is it possible that a married couple, one of whom is a doctor, can’t afford Amazon Prime when they are only supporting one child?

    I mean I don’t have it either, but I live with a 10 minute drive of 3 Walmarts.

    • trumwill says:

      Health-related issues. It’s not that we literally can’t afford it. It’s that we’re cutting expenses wherever we can at this point

      We’re a ten minute drive from one Walmart, which satisfies our stuff-we-can-get-at-Walmart needs.

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