Adventures in poll questions

ADVENTURES IN POLL QUESTIONS…. Greg Sargent finds a gem in the new Fox News poll:

The Obama administration is criticizing FOX News Channel for its coverage of the administration. If the disagreement between the Obama administration and FOX News Channel continues, who do you think will come out on top?

Administration 39%

Fox News 43%

Greg adds, “Fox finds more think Fox will defeat the White House! I wonder if this will persuade the White House communications team to drop its crusade.”

It does seem unlikely. That said, I’m not even sure I understand the poll question. Fox News is criticizing the White House because the president is a Democrat, and the White House is criticizing Fox News because it’s a propaganda outlet. Who do we think “will come out on top”? What does that mean, exactly? How would we know who’s “won” the showdown? Check again in a year to see who has higher approval ratings, Obama or the Republican cable network?

Fox News seems to think of itself as a political player, on par with a party or public official, engaged in some kind of partisan showdown with those of a different worldview. In the larger context, perhaps that’s part of the problem.

On a related note, Matt Corley had a good item yesterday, noting that the Bush White House went after NBC News in May 2008, accusing NBC of deceptive editing and blurring the lines between “news” and “opinion.” At the time, a variety of Fox News personalities thought this was a great idea, and suggested that Republican officials should avoid appearing on NBC News.

Now that it’s Fox News under fire from a different White House team, they have a very different perspective. “It is extraordinary that the White House would go and target a news channel,” Steve Doocy said, before comparing Obama to Hugo Chavez.

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