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FOX News Hypes Bogus Survey Supposedly Showing Rift Between Obama And Military

Reported by Ellen - January 3, 2009 -

FOX News blatantly tried to exploit a bogus Military Times “survey” that supposedly showed that the military is wary of Barack Obama. As Brandon Friedman, of VoteVets.org points out, the poll was amateurish and unscientific, limited to subscribers who chose to answer, thereby making it “impossible to calculate statistical margins of error commonly reported in opinion surveys,” according to Military Times' own disclaimer. But “fair and balanced” FOX didn't bother to check the methodology and, taking its language straight from Military Times, falsely characterized the results as being representative of “active duty service members.” Surprisingly, all three members of the panel discussing it on last night's (1/2/09) O'Reilly Factor saw through the hype and dismissed the results as largely inconsequential. With video.

Guest host John Kasich revealed FOX News' bias when he read the scripted introduction: “According to a new poll by Military Times, 60% of active duty service members are uncertain or pessimistic about Barack Obama. Can the incoming president overcome these doubts?” The segment was presented as "the Unresolved Problem segment."

I'm no fan of Kasich's but I have to give him props for doing a decent job in this segment. He acknowledged that the survey was not scientific and repeatedly questioned its significance. “Does it really matter? When they get the orders, (service men and women) are gonna go,” Kasich said early in the discussion.

FOX News contributor Capt. Chuck Nash also noted that the sampling was not random and that Iraq war supporters predominated the respondents.

Kasich pointed out that the poll also indicated that the military and Obama are on the same page with respect to Afghanistan in that they both feel there should be more emphasis in Afghanistan and less in Iraq.

Col Richard Klass, who served on Obama's national veterans advisory committee, stated that the Military Times headline ("Wary About Obama") was misleading because it could have just as easily trumpeted that only 25% were pessimistic. (Note: Klass incorrectly stated during the segment that an equal percentage of respondents were optimistic as pessimistic. But in reality, 33% said they felt optimistic about Obama as commander-in-chief, while 25% felt pessimistic. Klass correctly said that the biggest group, 35%, was uncertain.)

“We're getting lost in statistics,” Kasich said dismissively. Then, perhaps worried that nobody had fallen in with the “bad news for Obama” meme that dominates FOX News coverage these days, Kasich quickly brought up efforts by Obama to reach out to the military. “They must know that they've got to make up some ground there,” Kasich said.

But when Klass said that data shows that a majority of younger veterans (under 60) voted for Obama, while a majority of older vets voted for McCain, Kasich said enthusiastically, “Yeah, that's interesting... interesting.”

Kasich went on to laud Obama's appointments of Robert Gates and General Jim Jones as a "huge positive" .

Nash agreed and added that the appointments were “anything but far left.” He tipped his hat to Klass for pointing out that the data could be read two ways, “half full or half empty.” Nash continued, “That uncertain category is just what it is. It's uncertain.”

“Yeah,” agreed Kasich. “Look, he's our Commander-in-Chief. He's reaching out and put some good people in there and let's keep our fingers crossed that we're gonna have real success.”

Somewhere, I imagine a FOX News vice president hissing, “Curses! Foiled again!”