ConWebWatch home
ConWebBlog: the weblog of ConWebWatch
Search and browse through the ConWebWatch archive
About ConWebWatch
Who's behind the news sites that ConWebWatch watches?
Letters to and from ConWebWatch
ConWebWatch Links
Buy books and more through ConWebWatch

An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 12: More Accurate, Still Meaningless

Sure, WorldNetDaily fixed its reader poll so it couldn't be "freeped," but it doesn't mean the results are any closer to reality.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 6/11/2001

Conservatives use a lot of tactics to get their point across. But they hate it when those same tactics are used against them.

Take the tactic best known as "freeping" -- the en masse voting in online opt-in polls to skew the results. It's called "freeping" because the members of Free Republic popularized it to promote their conservative views.

Opt-in polls are nothing more than an amusement used mainly for the poll's host to get readers' eyeballs to hang around the site a little longer and hopefully look at more advertising. They're not scientific and certainly not representative of the views of the public at large.

That fact, though, doesn't keep them from being promoted as such. The November election brought a bunch of that; NewsMax promoted an opt-in poll at the Fox News web site claiming that more than 90 percent of respondents wanted Al Gore to stop his post-election battle in Florida and concede (as reported previously on ConWebWatch). And Online Journal reports that conservative Robert Novak was promoting a similar poll on with similar results while he was on a CNN program. Both polls were almost certainly "freeped." Given the almost even split in votes for Gore and George W. Bush, neither poll accurately reflected the views of a genuine cross-section of Americans, but because the results favored conservative views, conservatives promoted them as real polls.

But what conservatives do when their own polls get "freeped"? Well, they throw a fit is what they do.

WorldNetDaily did exactly that in March, when they were shocked -- shocked! -- to discover one day that their little poll had been skewed so that the majority of respondents opposed the prosecution of a homosexual policeman who, according to WND, "seduced a 16-year-old boy, plied him with alcohol and had homosexual relations with him."

That is most decidedly not the view of the typical WND reader. "What sort of group, though, would try to stuff the ballot box in favor of pedophilia?" WND pondered, ignoring the fact that in a lot of places 16 is considered a legal age for sexual relations. And while they pondered that, they temporarily pulled the plug on the poll.

About seven weeks later, in mid-May, the WND poll returned but with a twist -- you have to create an account using your e-mail address and a password to vote (during which time you get the opportunity to sign up for WND's daily newsletter). WND promises it doesn't sell the addresses or check to see how specific individuals have voted and claims that the "address records are kept only as a means to conduct an honest, accurate poll each day."

"Rather than continue running polls that were obviously skewed ... WND's technical staff set out to develop a more secure means of conducting online poll," the May 18 article on the new poll stated.

An example of the results WND prefers to see: one recent poll showed that 92 percent of respondents had a negative view of Yasser Arafat, a favorite WND target. These negative views were spread over five answers that repondents agreed with: "Once a terrorist, always a terrorist," "cutthroat thug," "that's our Hitler!" "pathological liar" and "proven ineffective as leader." Another poll on what John McCain, another hated WND target, should do showed that "leave politics as fast as you can" got 44 percent of the vote; "leave the Republican Party as fast as you can" got only 13 percent.

Naaah. No skewing going on there at all.

My diagnosis: A course on how to conduct a proper poll. And for God's sake, make sure Brent Bozell isn't teaching it.

Send this page to:
Bookmark and Share
The latest from

In Association with
Support This Site

home | letters | archive | about | primer | links | shop
This site © Copyright 2000-01 Terry Krepel