When Rasmussen asks suspect polling questions

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

It's likely to get suspect results. I'm just sayin'.

Here's the latest regarding a new Rasmussen poll that shows a drop in support for the Fairness Doctrine, which, if you listen to over-excited right-wing talkers and scribblers, represents the most pressing concern facing the nation today.

Problem is, we're not sure Rasmussen understands what the Fairness Doctrine was, or what it did.

According to Rasmussen [emphasis added]:

Only 26% of voters believe conservatives have an unfair advantage in the media, the argument several senior congressional Democrats use in pushing for the restoration of the Fairness Doctrine. Sixty-four percent (64%) disagree.

Most (52%) liberals say conservatives have an unfair advantage, while 79% of conservatives and 64% of moderates disagree.

Even a majority of Democratic voters (53%) say that conservatives do not have an unfair advantage in the media.

Seventy-four percent (74%) of voters overall say it is possible for just about any political view to be heard in today's media with the Internet, cable networks, satellite radio, newspapers, radio and TV available. Just 19% disagree.

It's sort of odd that Rasmussen asked people lots questions about whether conservatives enjoy "an unfair advantage in the media," and if people wanted to, they could find any political view if they searched the media landscape, including "Internet, cable networks, satellite radio, newspapers, radio and TV."

It's odd because those points have virtually nothing to do with the old Fairness Doctrine, which hasn't been the law of the land for more than two decades. Even when it was the law, the Fairness Doctrine did not deal with the Internet (obviously), or cable networks, satellite radio or newspapers. It only had to do with radio and TV (i.e. the public airwaves.) So why would Rasmussen be asking Fairness Doctrine questions and polling people about political views on media outlets completely unaffected by the Doctrine? Seems odd to me.

What also seemed odd was demanding to know if conservatives enjoy "an unfair advantage in the media." Again, the Fairness Doctrine did not apply to "the media." It only applied to radio and network TV. So why didn't Rasmussen ask that question? (Possible sample question: According to a 2007 study, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming in America is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive. Do you think conservatives enjoy an unfair advantage on talk radio?)

Meanwhile, Rasmussen's press release announced [emphasis added]:

Just 38% of U.S. voters think that the government should require all radio stations to offer equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary. Forty-seven percent (47%) oppose government-imposed political balance on radio stations, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Again, that's not what the Fairness Doctrine did. Seems that if Rasmussen is going to poll about the long-gone Fairness Doctrine, than Rasmussen ought to, y'know, figure out what the statute actually said.

I'm just sayin'.

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