'How to Rig a Poll'


J$P Instant Transcript! Dick Morris casts a skeptical eye on the methodology used by the New York Times.



From The O'Reilly Factor, December 8 2005:

BILL O'REILLY [FOX NEWS]: In the Impact segment tonight, new New York Times/CBS News poll has President Bush's approval rating at 40%, up five points from last month. With us now, political analyst Dick Morris, author of the best-selling book Condi vs Hillary. OK, you read the poll today. You are Mr Pollster.

DICK MORRIS: Yep. Well what I thought I'd do is that I'd give a little course here on how to rig a poll. Because I'll explain to you how the New York Times rigged the poll they just put out.

O'REILLY: You really think the New York Times rigged this poll?

MORRIS: Yes.

O'REILLY: Really?

MORRIS: Now, Bush's approval rating going up they can't help. Everybody's showing that and the Times reported it. But then in the poll, they sought to accomplish their ideological agenda by slanting the questions they asked. Let me give you an example. They asked people, "Do you think that members of the Bush administration misled the American people when we went to war, or not?" And they showed that 52% said that they did mislead the American people. And they're trumpeting that to show that Bush's credibility is under attack, and that Americans are suspect about Bush and his honesty. But the wording of the question is not Bush. The wording of the question was "members of the Bush administration". Which means, in effect, if you don't like Donald Rumsfeld, or you don't like Dick Cheney, or you don't like Colin Powell, or you don't like Tenet at the CIA, you would say yeah, members of the administration may have misled the country. And, when you ask a question, you say, "Do you think this, this, this, this, this is true, or not?", you're stacking it in favor of the thing you read. Because voters will always go with the thing you explained, not with the word "not". The correct way to answer that would be, "Do you think that the Bush administration--Do you think President Bush lied deliberately, misled the American people deliberately, when he gave us information about WMDs, or do you think he used the best intelligence available to him at the moment?"

O'REILLY: So give them two fully explained options.

MORRIS: Options. Don't say, "or not". Now another thing in the poll, they had something where they said, "Do you think President Bush told the full truth, was hiding something, or was not truthful at all?" And it was 25 full truth, 25 not truthful, and about 45 in the middle saying he's hiding something. Now they put in that question "hiding something", so they can add that 45 with the 25 that think he's a liar, and say 70% of the American people doubt his credibility, 45 and 25.

O'REILLY: OK, and the way they do that, for me to explain to the audience, is their columnists now, their left-wing columnists, anti-Bush columnists, and they're legion there, then take those stats, throw it in their column--

MORRIS: That's right.

O'REILLY: --and say, look at this bad guy. But I wanna--

MORRIS: But the President of the United States has classified material. Obviously he hides something from the American people. He's not allowed to tell them everything.

O'REILLY: Well OK, but that wasn't--the implication of wasn't up and up when he could have been. But you really believe, sitting in this chair, that the New York Times editors and publisher, Sulzberger, did this on purpose?

MORRIS: Yes. I believe, I wrote a chapter in one of my other books, Off with Their Heads, about it. I think that what they do is that they try to provide talking points to skew the dialogue in favor of their ideological agenda.

O'REILLY: So they sit around a table and they think about and they make it up and they execute it?

MORRIS: Well, they have their pollsters do that. When a pollster asks a question, "Do you think Bill O'Reilly is a wonderful guy, who's an insightful journalist, who comes up with great perspectives--"

O'REILLY: Or not?

MORRIS: "--or not?" What do you think the answer they're expecting is?

O'REILLY: Well in my case it would probably be "not", but anybody else--

MORRIS: But yeah, I think that they absolutely sit around--

O'REILLY: I hope not.

MORRIS: They went on a rampage after 9/11 to convince people that the American people thought it was back to normal and that terrorism was not the big issue.

O'REILLY: I hope they're not doing that, but if they are, maybe we can find out for sure. All right, Dick Morris. Buy his book, everybody: Condi vs Hillary. And we appreciate your coming in of course.

posted: Thu - December 8, 2005 at 10:27 PM       j$p  send 
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