When people don't like the implications of polls the response is frequently that polls can be made to say anything. Sort of like saying you've got your sources and I have mine and I guess it's too difficult to determine who is right. Is that fair?
So for instance yesterday Bob Dutko interview a guy by the name of Mickey Huff who contributed to this book. Huff and I see the media very much the same way. Corporate media naturally offers a product that is intended to maximize profits. This results in various skewing of the stories we hear. Dutko conceded that corporate interests are a factor but he said the media also has a left wing ideology. Huff said that's just inconsistent. Left means anti-corporatist/anarchist, which is fundamentally incompatible with being pro-corporatist. He said that studies show that in the mainstream media guests skew to the right according to studies done by media matters. Maybe he had in mind something like this.
Bob tries to blow that off by claiming that since media matters is a left wing source it is not to be trusted. He likewise has studies done by right wing groups such as the Media Research Center. Huff wouldn't accept those so Bob won't accept the claims coming out of media matters.
Huff's reply was interesting and something I agree with. No, he doesn't necessarily disagree with the studies done by MRC. Let's have a look and see. I find that it's a very rare study that I would just assert is flat out wrong. If proper scientific methodologies are followed then studies from right wingers can be trusted.
Bob was vague in his description of the so called studies, so I wasn't sure what he had in mind. But I went to MRC to see what it might offer, and they do have some polling data here. As I look through it I find I have no problem with it. I don't dismiss it because it's being reported by a right wing group. I think it's probably true.
Take this poll as an example. The public generally thinks the media is too liberal. I suspect they do. Doesn't mean they are right, but this probably is what the general public thinks. To determine if they are right you actually have to look at the content of the news. That's what the Media Matters study does. So both of these claims are correct. The majority of guests on the Sunday talk shows are conservative, but public perception is that the media is too liberal.
Just to pick another poll at random, this one shows that the public thinks media coverage of the war in Iraq is too negative and too liberal. I have no reason to doubt that this is what the public thinks.
Again, the implications of the poll can be wrongly extracted. The classic example involved New Coke. Taste tests indicated that the new flavor was preferred. But sales did not reflect that. Was the poll wrong? Not necessarily. One of the reasons the poll was misleading was that the sample size was too small. People did prefer the new Coke in small dosages because it was sweeter. But when you drink an entire bottle you might not prefer it.
Bob can't imagine that there is sometimes a sense in which the media does tilt to the right. So when presented with solid evidence he just wants to dismiss it, and he does so by pretending studies can be made to say anything. He probably rationalizes his positions on health care in a similar way. But while it is true that polls and studies can be misleading I think there is much to be learned from them and they shouldn't be dismissed so cavalierly. Bob should consider first that his intuitions are wrong before pretending that the result of any given study must be wrong.