In a smug little column in
Slate recently, Jacob Weisberg fantasized about a
meeting of Washington pundits to decide how much coverage
to give to the Buchanan and Nader campaigns. Should they
get "Level Two" coverage, reserved for "candidates
who can seriously affect the result of an election"?
Or "Level Three," for "passionate nutcakes"
worthy of "the odd Saturday feature story"
perhaps, but "no day-to-day reportage"? Since
the hacks decided that neither candidate would receive 5
percent of the vote, "we opted for Level Three coverage."
Weisbergs humor is lame, but it is very decent of
him to let us know ahead of time that he and his chums intend
to rig the election. Certainly neither Buchanan nor Nader
will get 5 percent. Thanks to Weisberg, hardly anyone will
know they are even running.
candidates need vast fortunes out of reach to all but
those prepared to whore after special interests. Third-party
candidates are kept off state ballots by being required
to collect a ludicrous number of signatures. Third-party
candidates are also kept out of presidential debates. Yet,
according to Gallup, 38 percent of Americans consider themselves
"independents"; 34 percent Democrats; and 28 percent
two parties, however, make sure no one challenges their
monopoly. I have written before about the Commission on
Presidential Debates and its insistence that only candidates
who enjoy at least 15-percent support in five national polls
one week before the debates be allowed to take part in them.
The polls are to be conducted by ABC/Washington Post;
CBS/New York Times; NBC/Wall Street Journal;
CNN/ USA Today/Gallup; and Fox News/ Opinion Dynamics in
other words, by the very organizations that employ Jacob
Weisberg and the all-star pundits who, as we already know,
have decided that no third-party candidate can possibly
get 5 percent of the vote. Now, there is a clear conflict
of interest here. The media organizations first marginalize
a candidate by ignoring him. Then they run a poll, which
confirms their judgment as to his viability. He is kept
out of the debate, fails to reach a national audience and
ends up with a derisory vote. Jake and his chums can then
high-five each other in delight at their splendid clairvoyance.
All the while, no one has the bad taste to point out the
cozy relationship between the media corporations and the
two main parties. The tens of millions that Gore and Bush
blow this fall on campaign ads attacking each other will
end up in the fat bank accounts of Disney, Time Warner,
NewsCorp and General Electric.
polls are used by elites to control an obstreperous populace.
Far from offering a sampling of public opinion on an issue
or a candidate, the purpose of a poll is to coerce. People
are to be whipped into line by the lure of safety in numbers.
Why bother worrying about whom to vote for or what to think
about an issue when the majority has already spoken? The
candidate who is ahead is obviously the better man, just
as the pol in single digits clearly deserves nothing better.
Unpopular policies are rammed down a recalcitrant populations
throat through tendentiously posed questions designed to
yield the correct results. These are then relayed back to
the public so as to silence the doubters. The outstanding
example of the method was last years bombing of Yugoslavia.
Armed aggression against a sovereign country is never popular.
In the middle of March, just a few days before the bombing,
ABC News and The Washington Post posed the following
question: "The United States has said it may bomb Serbia
unless Serbia agrees to a peace plan for Kosovo. If Serbia
does not agree to the peace plan, should the United States
bomb Serbia, or not?" Sixty-two percent of respondents
said "No"; 26 percent said "Yes." Clinton
went ahead. Soon we were regaled with tales of an upsurge
of enthusiasm for sending in the "ground troops."
question ABC News and The Washington Post asked was
carefully crafted to elicit precisely this response: "Suppose
the bombing does not stop Serbias military action
in Kosovo. Would you support or oppose the United States
and its European allies sending in ground troops to try
to end the conflict in Kosovo?" Fifty-seven percent
said they would support it; 39 percent said they would oppose
it. Given the dishonesty of the premises of the question,
it is surprising the majority was not even larger. On the
other hand, when asked, "Please tell me if you agree
or disagree with the following statement: It would be worth
the loss of some American soldiers lives if the United
States could help bring peace to Kosovo," 45 percent
said it would be worth it, while 52 percent said that it
would not be worth it. In other words, the polls the hacks
continually trumpet are meaningless, entirely a function
of contrived questions.
most outrageous case of a contrived question to yield a
predetermined answer took place a few years ago. An opinion
poll, conducted by the Roper Organization on behalf of the
American Jewish Committee, allegedly found that 22 percent
of Americans doubted that the Holocaust had taken place.
There was much hysteria and anguished cries in the media
about the supposed triumph of the Holocaust deniers. The
trouble was that no one had bothered to look at the question
that had elicited that 22 percent figure. It was so convoluted
and confusing, it was surprising the figure was not even
higher: "Does it seem possible or does it seem impossible
to you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened"
a question almost totally devoid of meaning. Gallup
later reformulated the question and the 22 percent became
a mere 1 percent.