Fox News has been roundlycriticized for selectively citing poll data to make it look like Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to Democratic-led health care reform. Now its sister network, Fox Business, has gone a step further, inviting them to participate in an online poll whose outcome is all but preordained thanks to the laughably biased menu of responses.
The question itself, posted on foxbusiness.com, is straightforward enough: "Will the passage of the health-care reform bill impact your vote in the mid-term elections?"
It's the answers that are a problem. Readers have a choice of saying that either they are more concerned about other issues, find the bill "too expensive and intrusive," or will decide in November.
Notice anything missing? How about the lack of any option for respondents to say passage of the bill will influence them to vote in favor of those who supported it? That option might come in handy, seeing as, according to a Gallup Poll last week, "Nearly half of Americans give a thumbs-up to Congress' passage of a healthcare reform bill last weekend, with 49% calling it 'a good thing.'"
With no available choice reflecting that position, an apparently commanding 73% of poll-takers elected to criticize the bill. "Not a scientific poll" indeed.
A Fox Business executive, Ray Hennessey, says it doesn't matter a great deal how the responses were worded since the results of polls like this aren't used in news gathering. "These are nonscientific surveys, not polls, and readers who find them biased can simply choose not to make their opinions heard," says Hennessey. "We do different ones every day, and they are simply user-engagement tools."
Fair enough. Maybe the next poll -- sorry, "nonscientific survey" -- will even seek to engage users who favor health care reform.