Fox News is at it again with their polls. This one claims that 65 percent of Americans want to use military force to stop Iran from getting nukes, and an astonishing 84 percent think Obama’s diplomatic approach is a bad idea. Bill Kristol reported those numbers in a tweet:
Oh noes! This is terrible news for Obama, and everyone who supports diplomacy, isn’t it?
Not so fast. According to an article in The American Prospect, the questions (of course) were worded in such a way that they would elicit specific answers. The first read:
Do you favor or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran if that were the only way to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons?
Author Paul Waldman says that they’ve been asking this question for awhile, but this latest poll changed the wording somewhat. The original question read something like, “Do you favor or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons?” The words “if that were the only way,” weren’t there before.
What they did is present a worst-case scenario to the respondents, which assumes that diplomacy is doomed. Then Fox News reported the results of that question the following way:
Overall, two-thirds of voters (65 percent) favor the U.S. using military action, if necessary, to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Just 28 percent are opposed.
“If necessary,” is somewhat different from “if that were the only way.” It’s less urgent. So we clearly see how Fox News is manipulating the results before they even come in.
But wait! There’s more. The second question, according to Waldman, is:
Do you think it’s a good idea or a bad idea to allow Iran to get nuclear weapons 10 years from now in return for it agreeing that it won’t obtain nuclear weapons before then?
Waldman is understandably confused by this, and he says that’s how Fox News sees the discussions between us and Iran. Fox News referenced an interview between Reuters and Obama for that, but they left out a key phrase in that question, which is, “at least.” The Reuters article started out with:
Iran must commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear activity for a landmark atomic deal to be reached, but the odds are still against sealing a final agreement, U.S. President Barack Obama told Reuters on Monday.
They also left out the part that said the odds are still against our reaching a final agreement. Of course, Fox News reported that Americans overwhelmingly think that allowing Iran to get nukes 10 years from now is a monumentally bad idea. However, Waldman points us to a more realistic survey in the Washington Post. That survey found that 61 percent of respondents actually favor allowing Iran a limited uranium-enrichment program, as long as there are stringent, intrusive inspections, instead of ramping up sanctions to get them to stop altogether.
So, as usual, Fox News has exaggerated and manipulated opinion to suit their agenda. There’s a reason so many people call them Faux News.