Most

Bill O’Reilly claims his show is a “no-spin” zone.

But what do you call it when you take a research finding that says “28% of Floridians say they are less likely…” and change it to “Most Americans won’t…”

28%=most?

Most?

That’s not just spinning the facts. It’s outright lying about them. I don’t know anyone who would claim that less than a third is most.

Why did Bill lie?

Because he wanted to take the findings from a Quinnipiac study about how voters would react to a candidate getting an endorsement by a gay rights group and twist them for his own agenda.

First, let’s look at what the survey actually says (something Bill obviously didn’t bother to do):

On July 30, pollsters at Quinnipiac University surveyed a little under 3,000 voters in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, asking questions about the presidential candidates and relevant election issues.

Scroll down and you’ll see the question that Bill reported on. It’s question 18: ” If a presidential candidate is supported by – gay rights groups, does that make you more likely to vote for that candidate, less likely to vote for that candidate, or doesn’t it make a difference?”

What did the people say?

                        FL      OH     PA 

More likely             10%     10%    11%
Less likely             28      34     28
Doesn't make a diff     60      54     59
DK/NA                    2       2      2

Let’s see. So that means most of the people surveyed either don’t care or would be more likely. 70% = most, doesn’t it? And only about 30% would be less likely? And that 30% must include some people who might be less likely, but would still vote for the person? So it’s probably even less than that? Maybe down in the 20s? Somewhere around Bush’s approval rating?

Just to put that number in perspective, it’s less than the percentage of white, born-again, evangelical Christians surveyed who say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry or have civil unions. That percentage, according to question 21 of the same survey, is 34-38%. Let me say that again: Over a third of white, born-again, evangelical Christians, in states like Florida and Ohio, believe that same-sex couples should have the right of legal recognition.

If we look at how all voters, not just the evangelical Christians, responded to that same question, what do we find? We find that most of them (not O’Reilly’s most, but the way the rest of the world means most) support civil unions or marriage equality. Around 60%, in fact. Most.

So why did Bill O’Reilly lie to say that most Americans wouldn’t vote for a candidate who was endorsed by a gay rights group, but neglect to mention that a majority of those polled support legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples?

Because he’s trying to shape people’s normative expectations. He wants them to have distorted views of how others think.

Think about all those public service announcements that try to highlight the fact that most American don’t smoke, or that most college students don’t binge drink. What is the rationale behind those campaigns? To help young people, in particular, feel less out of the ordinary if the don’t smoke or drink.

O’Reilly is trying to do the same thing with bigotry. He’s trying to make it seem like most people so vehemently oppose LGBT rights that they would refuse to vote for anyone that LGBT people liked. He’s trying to make that 70% who wouldn’t mind such an endorsement, that 60% who think LGBT people should have the right to civil unions or marriage, to think they’re outnumbered.

The only way he can do that is to lie. Luckily, that’s what Bill does best.

But no matter how much he lies, Bill is only talking to the 28% who would be bothered by an endorsement, the same 28% who would oppose relationship recognition, and who still think George Bush is a competent president.

I get why Bill caters to that 28%. They’re his meal ticket.

The big question is, why is everyone else listening to them? Why are they dictating where our country goes?

Our politicians act like that 28% is most Americans. The media acts like that 28% is most Americans. Americans often act like that 28% is most Americans.

Most Americans are tired of George Bush and his corrupt administration.

That’s how you use the word “most” in a sentence, Bill.

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1 Comment

  1. Martin Lanigan said,

    August 20, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Bravo! If only more American’s deconstructed the right wing’s message, then the world would be a far safer place. Here’s hoping for redemption in 08.


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