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Working the Polls, Part 2

WorldNetDaily creates its own little "mobocracy."

By Terry Krepel
Posted 1/17/2003

A big book in the conservative world last year was "Mobocracy" by Matthew Robinson. According to the promotional copy, Robinson's book "reveals how our country's democratic process has been corrupted by the mob rule of an ill-informed electorate whose opinions are trumpeted at the expense of thoughtful reporting" and "coverage of many of the most divisive issues ... is manipulated by polling that too often seeks to further an agenda, not measure opinion."

WorldNetDaily, in particular, liked this book. Not only is "Mobocracy" available in its online store, WND leader Joseph Farah contributed a quote for the book's cover -- "Finally, someone has said what needed to be said—persuasively and passionately—about our cultural obsession with polls. Matt Robinson's insight and observations are worthy of debate and reflection." And Robinson penned a commentary piece for WND shortly after the book's release filled with conservative buzzwords like "liberal media" and "self-important Metroliner elite" and lamenting that "it's no coincidence that cynicism has grown in direct proportion to the growth of government and crusading left-wing journalists and their self-ratifying polls."

Related article on ConWebWatch:

Working the Polls

As you may have figured out by now, "Mobocracy" is not exactly an objective look at the issue. The only "agenda" allegedly furthered by manipulative polling Robinson cares about is the "liberal" one, though the promotional copy is careful not to stipulate that. Robinson is, after all, an adjunct scholar at the conservative Claremont Institute (one recent article there is appalled that anyone could possibly like the Eminem movie "8 Mile") as well as a former editor at the conservative journal Human Events. And Robinson's bio proudly notes that "his stories have been featured on Fox News, The Rush Limbaugh Show and CBN."

So, with such corporate support of this book and Farah's own words of praise for the ideas it contains, it would be logical to presume that WorldNetDaily would never stoop to use such despicable tactics on its own, right?


WND found a pollster who puts out the kind of polls it likes. Scott Rasmussen is a co-founder of the cable sports network ESPN turned pollster who (probably more important to folks like WND) is also author of a book called "The GOP Generation," which "explains underlying issues, trends, and other factors moving the nation to a lasting Republican majority." He has a deal with WND to promote his poll results there.

In addition to plugging his TV appearances, WND has written regularly about Rasmussen's surveys. Some recent findings:

  • "With under two years to go before the next major election," President Bush holds "double-digit leads over five Democratic contenders for his job." Even Rasmussen himself ought to admit the practical value of this poll is basically nil.
  • "72 percent of Americans plan to pray to ring in 2003, while just 45 percent expect to drink an alcoholic beverage."
  • "(F)ully 47 percent of those surveyed believe liberals are treated more fairly in the press" compared to "only 25 percent" who think there is a conservative media bias.

And then there's the obligatory fawning Jon Dougherty story on Rasmussen, noting that an "independent" review called Rasmussen's polling the most accurate.

Rasmussen also wrote columns for WND during and after the 2000 election -- and he said what WND readers wanted to hear. In an Nov. 1., 2000, piece he pondered why reporters called the 2000 presidential election too close to call when "all tracking polls show George Bush ahead by at least one point." One answer he came up with: "Many in the media seem to be in a state of denial. It could be that they expected Gore to win and just can't quite come to grips with data challenging their basic assessment." He also predicted that "The geography of this year's race is such that polls will close in most major "toss up" states by 8 p.m. (Eastern). ... By that point in time, it is likely that George W. Bush will have picked up the 39 electoral votes from toss-up states that he needs to win the presidency." (A poll Rasmussen took in the middle of the post-election turmoil claimed that "nearly half of Americans believe the Democratic Party is most responsible for voter fraud.")

In another article, though, he does correctly point out that "the biggest problem with Internet polls is the fact that participants are self-selected," but that hasn't kept WND from reporting on them, as it did most recently during its mostly self-generated Patty Murray controversy.

WorldNetDaily also cherry-picks polls from other sources whose results cater to its audience, as ConWebWatch has previously noted. One recent red-meat poll: "A new study finds Democrats are more anti-Semitic than Republicans."

WND's intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy never ceases to amaze. Skewed reporting of polls that favor its own biases runs rampant even as it frowns on allegedly skewed reporting of polls by others whose results disagree with its biases.

Either Farah didn't bother reading the book he contributed a blurb to -- or he read it all too well, using it as a roadmap to create his own little "mobocracy."

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