The Mercury News has an interesting survey of impression people have about the Iraq war, cross-referenced by their self-identified main news source:

John Constantine sees this as either proof that the press isn’t liberal or the stupidity of the public:

Oh yes, we have a liberal media hostile to the Bush administration and attacking the Iraq policy at every turn.


I’d guess that the main reason for the disparate results between Fox and the other networks is self-selection: Fox viewers are more likely to be Republican and thus predisposed to believe the representations of a Republican president. And, of course, only a third of Fox viewers think we’ve found WMD. My guess is a substantial proportion of them are thinking of various reports that came out in March indicating that we had indeed found various stashes that turned out to be erroneous.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. norbizness says:

    Your analysis seems more right, James (look at the disparity in real polls vs. Fox dynamics polls, for instance). Constantine’s is sheer idiocy.

  2. Paul says:

    Two other things should be noted.

    #1) When they poll says did the U.S. find WMD, there are a fair number of people who believe we have found more then we have released.

    That is a minor point, my big point is number 2

    #2) “U.S. has found clear evidence that Saddam Hussein was working CLOSELY with al-Qaida terrorist group.”

    At the risk of sounding like Bill Clinton.. It depends on what your definition of CLOSELY is.

    Personally I think the evidence has crossed that bar but I also think that anyone who helps a terrorist group in any way is “close to them.”

    So I sorta take issue with the whole poll and the headline “Getting it wrong…’


  3. Kevin Drum says:

    If you take a look at the poll itself, you’ll see that they controlled for demographics. Even if you just take Republicans, the ones who watch Fox are more likely to be misinformed. (Yeah, yeah, maybe it’s just the hard core Republicans who already watch Fox. I guess you can regress this stuff forever.)

    On the al-Qaeda question, I had the same concern. But the wording of the question turns out to be pretty legit. You have a choice of “a few contacts here and there” and “lots of contacts” and a couple of other choices. It seemed reasonably worded to me.

  4. Mala says:

    Thanks for calling attention to the poll. I hadn’t seen it. Scary stuff – perception vs. reality.

  5. The full report is interesting reading. Of course, the social scientist in me wants the raw data (I’m seriously considering doing a paper on this topic for the 2004 MPSA and/or APSA). Guess I’ll have to console myself with the more limited media polls available at ICPSR (me being a poor grad student with no research budget and all…).

  6. markus says:

    I’d like to call for a rewording of the post:
    “a shocking third” instead of “only a third”
    Seriously, the results are horrible. I mean, as a German I was and am ashamed that 19% of German’s thought it _possible_ Bush comissioned 9-11. Ok, it was only a two question phone survey and the lead up question and the wording was designed to get a high result, but nonetheless, 19% overall were stupid or anti-American enough to say yes to the second question.
    The present poll differs in asking about facts which IMO both makes the result worse and better, in that ignorance of basic facts is worse than speculations but OTOH getting one’s facts wrong is not as troubling as considering a foreign leader capable of a monstrous atrocity. Anyway, it’s your country, so I’ll only say I’d be deeply ashamed if it was mine (as I was and am when it was mine), YMMV.

  7. Philip says:

    This poll is not from the Mercury News but part of a study by PIPA

  8. Philip says:

    Also Al Queda and the Iraqi government had no love lost between them. If there was ANY cooperation it’s an Enemy of my enemy scenario. ObL would have just as soon seen Saddam dead. That is documented quite clearly much more so than any cooperation which extends to treating a suspected Al Queda operative in Bahgdad, and maybe some training camps in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq. Hardly close ties.

  9. I’d like to see a few more questions. For example:

    – The rate of attacks against US forces has risen since the end of May.

    – Most Iraqis want the US to leave the country immediately.

    – The coalition included the US and Britain, but no other major countries.

    … In other words, questions that aren’t just about guaranteed to get this result. Questions that echo “wrong impressions” that are put forward by most of the non-Fox conventional media. I could go on for a while with these.

  10. Paul says:

    But Jeanne, that would not the liberal spin we were looking for!


  11. markus says:

    @ Jeanne: bring on that poll and include the Weekly Standard:

    Bush II … attempted for nearly six months to persuade the Security Council to enforce its own new and unanimous resolution. When it would not, the United States and Britain went to war.

  12. mufasa says: