Press Distorts Military Survey

CNN Headline News managed to portray the Annenberg Survey that I discussed yesterday, which showed that troops overwhelming supported the Iraq War (64-32) and preferred Bush over Kerry by a ridiculous margin (69-24) as horrible news for the president.

I’m guessing this spurred them on: Poll Shows Military Has Iraq Doubts (AP)

Members of the military and their families say the Bush administration underestimated the number of troops needed in Iraq and put too much pressure on inadequately trained National Guard and reserve forces, according to a poll released Saturday. The National Annenberg Election Survey found that 62 percent in the military sample said the administration didn’t send an adequate number of troops to Iraq. And 59 percent said too much of a burden has been put on the National Guard and the reserves when regular forces should have been expanded instead. Family members were more critical of the administration’s Iraq policy than those on active duty. This critical view comes from a military group that has a more favorable view of President Bush (news – web sites), Iraq, the economy and the nation’s direction than Americans in general.

One would have to be either completely obtuse or expend an inordinate degree of effort to put that spin on the story. Read the excerpts from yesterday’s post or, if you’re particularly ambitious, the entire survey that I linked.

Update (9/17 8:23): OmniPundit points out that AP produced another story on the Annenberg survey that indeed highlighted the troops’ preference for Bush over Kerry as commander in chief, which was featured on the CNN website. A fair point. I stumbled on the version above on GoogleNews and coming on the heels of the “Headline News” story yesterday morning combined to form my perception of the press coverage. I would note, though, that it was the “alternate” version of the piece that was chosen for highlighting on television, which almost certainly reached more voters than the AP piece or the website, and that the CNN All Politics page also highlights the “alternate” story.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004, Media, Military Affairs, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Xixi says:

    The media and the democrats would rather our country be overrun by terrorists than have Bush reelected. I am voting a straight Republican ticket this time as my response.

  2. Sorry about the trackback. I am just learning my Haloscan trackback system. MSM bias is a hot button for me. We all know the NYT and LAT, but who would have thought there were so many others?

  3. CuriosityKilledTheCat says:

    The President said he listens to his commanders on the ground when it comes to what is needed. This survey raises the interesting question: Are the commanders listening to their soldiers?

  4. mikem says:

    Shameful, but the good news is that this type of partisanship by CNN and the Democrats only fools the public long enough for the word to get out through alternative media and then CNN’s reputation takes the rightful hit that it deserves. Enough of these embarrassments and CNN will decide that its own survival requires a more ethical approach to its task of informing the public. For now, we can watch with anger and bemusement as they are widely revealed for what they are.

  5. P.J. Hinton says:

    The tone of the NAES press release is easy to understand when you realize who the point man for the survey is: Adam Clymer. Yes, the Adam Clymer whom W referred to as a "major-league @$$hole." To me, this is the story behind the story.

  6. Attila Girl says:

    I was amazed when I saw that story, and was going to forward it to you. The trick they appeared to be using was to conflate the families-of-military with the actual service members when it suited their purposes, and to break the numbers down at other times.

    In other words, the more liberal-leaning family members are used as camouflage to hide the actual feelings/convictions of military men and women.

    It’s disgusting, but par for the course.

  7. Andy says:

    The way the media have portrayed the National Guard and Reserves when reporting on Quayle and Bush would indicate the belief that these troops are never called up.

    Now they report that the called up troops are not happy with their active duty status.

    Nothing is free.

  8. ts says:

    Interesting that Annenberg chose to issue two press releases, a day apart, so that they could publish the “bad” news separately from the “good” news. Going through their NAES04 web site, you cannot see what specific questions were asked, look at phrasing, order, range of possible answers, etc. Just all the things you would want to see to assess the objectivity of a survey.

  9. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Look far enough and you can always find a whiner. The Soviet Union tried to send “enough” troops to Afghanistan and it took them down. We are not trying to physically occupy every inch of Iraq, just to whack their army, done, and now to place a viable representative government there, doing.

  10. JakeV says:

    You may be right, although I seem to remember the military’s general support of Bush being the headline fact in several articles in mainstream news sources yesterday. Perhaps I remember wrong.

    Maybe there’s also a bit of “man bites dog” in this– news organizations tend to stress the more startling or controversial aspects of their stories (as can also be seen in non-political fields like sports journalism). The media follows the smell of blood.

    Actually, the part of the survey results I found most surprising was that 40% believed gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military. I never would have predicted that.

  11. Enlightiator says:


    s unbelievable regarding the results of the National Annenberg Election Survey poll of miltary members and their families. On the CNN website homepage, under the heading “Top Stories” is a link to:

    Poll: Troops, families question Iraq strategy

    This story about the National Annenberg Election Survey poll mentions NOTHING about the poll results showing that Bush was trusted by the military 69% compared to Kerrys 24% or that 77% of the troops views Bush favorably compared to only 26% for Kerry.

    The front page of the CNN Politics section at has a link to the same story
    under “Military & Families”:

    Poll: Bush questioned
    “Most members of the military and their families surveyed say Bush sent too few troops, relied too much on Guard”

    Only by clicking the link part of the way down the article Poll: Troops, families question Iraq strategy will you find a link entitled “Part 1 of the Annenberg survey results)”. Clicking the link to “Part 1…” takes you to part 1 which has this headline:
    Poll: Military trusts Bush over Kerry

    To summarize:

    1. The CNN home page and CNN Politics front page, only take you to part 2 of the article which gives the appearance that the results of the military poll is negative for George Bush.
    2. Part 2 of the article isn’t even labeled as part 2. Nor is “Part 1” labeled as such on the story itself.
    3. The link to “part 1” is buried in the article, and doesn’t even use the headline of part 1 “Poll: Military trusts Bush over Kerry”
    4. “Part1” “Poll: Military trusts Bush over Kerry” has no link to part 2, however it is not linked from the home page or the Politics page. Part 2 which is favorable for Bush is just kind of hanging out there, unless you see the link in the story and follow it out of curiosity (it has no appealing headline).

    Folks, this is Media Bias at its best.

  12. Enlightiator says:

    See here for the full extent of the CNN Deception regarding the military poll results:

  13. Bithead says:

    And isn’t the timing of the story… ummmm… interesting?

  14. What ould be interesting would be to break the survey out by full-time military, National Guard, and dependants of each and see what those numbers tell us. I would expect the NG and their dependents to be more liberal.

    It goes to show the spin on the survey begins with the survey itself when you get get at the questions and the breakouts.

  15. Sorry, cannot get…

  16. Kevin C says:

    After reading your post, I immediately read the annenberg survey. No doubt about it, the military is mostly pro-Bush.

    So I then looked at the AP article. No doubt, that was taking the downside. Took a look around and found the 2nd article on yahoo, and that article was all about the Pro-Bush side.

    I didn’t see the report on CNN. For all I know, CNN may have run another story covering the first part.

    Regardless, the Freeper post has the bullet “3. The link to “part 1” is buried in the article, and doesn’t even use the headline of part 1 “Poll: Military trusts Bush over Kerry””

    Now who’s spinning? When did the third sentence become the buried text? When I read it, I expected it to be at the end of the article, or in a sidebar.

  17. Kenneth says:

    I hope you post this but the reason the Military stands behind Bush or the Republicans is because of the Reagan Era. Ronald Reagan restored pride in America. After years of being pushed around by countries like Korea, Vietnam, Iran. He even caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. He put an end to Lybia sponsored terrorism. So, without Reagan, we wouldn’t be the power we are now, and we need someone who can be decisive with the military instead of someone who has to take an opinion poll before making a decision.

  18. Mojave Mark says:

    I was in the Reserves (National Guard) during both Bush 41 and Clinton. Everybody hated Clinton and loved Bush 41. Has anybody done a comparison between the surveys done in the military during the Clinton years (last term) and during Bush 43? I’ll bet it would show how poorly Democrat presidents are viewed by the military world and well they view Republican presidents.

  19. Anna says:

    Posting this in two stories is just another dirty trick so that the story supportive of Bush can be down-played and the one that is not given major coverage. It certainly is NOT being fair and equal. If confronted, the media can always point to both stories and claim fairness when in fact it is just a way to separate the good news so as to eventually conceal it and drop it down the memory hole first chance they get.

    Nope, two stories is not acceptable and is not the same as impartial, factual reporting of the entire survey in one as it should be reported. It only renders both stories incomplete, inaccurate and distorted. Covering only part of a story in this manner is just not being factual.
    If doing two stories, they should both present all aspects and not have one focused on negatives and one positives for it is too easy to discard one or the other.

    We the People are becoming so weary of the MSM manipulating the so-called news! Pravda was more honest!

  20. Staff Martin says:

    A little anecdote about military attitudes towards Clinton & Bush:

    Back in January of 2001, I was attending a military school (ANCOC) at Fort Carson, CO. This is a course that is run on weekends for National Guard and Reserve personnel (I’m National Guard, with about 12 years of Active Duty, as well, and currently serving in Kuwait).

    Anyway, at the end of this class, the state Adjutant General came to speak to us, to tell us about some of the changes that were going to be made in the military education and promotion systems. All of the students present were noncommissioned officers (i.e., sergeants) with anywhere from 3 to 20 years of service.

    So the general started off by saying “I just returned from Washington DC, where I watched George W. Bush get sworn in as our 43rd president…” and before he could finish, the entire room burst into spontaneous applause.


  21. LJD says:

    I used to think Headline News was middle of the road… I saw a story last week that forever changed my mind.
    CNNHN reported that the military accounts for 10% of superfund sites in the country. The problem wasn’t the story so much as how it was reported.

    First, no mention of the military’s ranking in the use of hazardous materials. Second, no mention of the programs the military has in place. I remember long nights at the motor pool and in the field, for relatively small spills.

    What really got to me though was that the reporter felt it was vital to the story to say that Bush has done absolutely nothing about this issue. There was little concern about the environment, and every point made to discredit the President. She closed by thanking the specialist being interviewed, and said “obviously this is a HUGE problem!”

    Since when does reporting the news require any such emphasis? I sat bewildered, recognizing that this entire story was nothing more than an election year jab. I then changed the channel from Headline News, forever.

  22. randy bielski says:

    I have talked to more people that truly feel the democrats crave the return to power more than they do the safety of us or our country

    Scoop Jackson should be rolling over in his grave

  23. Erik says:

    CNN is not biased, they have an agenda!!!

  24. Salvi says:

    Bush is dumb dumb dumb.