On Surveys, and the Nature of Bias.

When I was writing my undergraduate honors thesis, I had to go through an exhaustive vetting process with an university entity known as the Institutional Review Board (IRB). The purpose of the IRB is to ensure that studies involving human subjects are completed ethically, with human rights and welfare always at the forefront. The IRB at my alma mater also takes the time to ensure that surveys designed to be completed by human subjects are written with as little bias as possible, so as to yield data that is — institutionally and in terms of peer-review — above reproach.

Apparently, President Trump and his ‘Make America Great Again’ team at the Republican National Committee are badly in need of an IRB themselves. Today they came out with a fascinating survey for their constituents (which now include all of us American citizens, in case we’d somehow forgotten). This so-called survey (kind of like those so-called judges of the 9th Circuit, except, not. Since those judges, are, you know, federally confirmed members of the judiciary and this survey is a pile of steaming ridiculousness — but I digress), entitled “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey”, asks some truly intriguing questions about our relationship to the ‘mainstream media’ as it pertains to the Republican Party. I thought it would be fun to complete this survey with you, my loyal readers, as an exercise in political engagement. Please keep in mind that each of these questions comes directly from the GOP survey website (God bless the screenshot function), and is completely untouched by me. So strap in folks; we’re in for a bumpy ride.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 1

Wow, did you know we were all part of a cohesive movement here in our deeply divided America? I guess the 2.8 million of us who voted for Hillary Clinton are actually integral members of the cohesive Make America Great Again Movement — who knew?

Answer: No.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 2

Dear Authors of this Survey,

Hi, my name is S! I just wanted to introduce you to the concept of the leading question. Have you ever heard of it? No? Okay, swell! I’m sure you’re going to get some great, thoughtful, and not at all biased answers to this well-crafted inquiry.

Answer: Other, please specify — Yes, yes I do. Especially now that Mika Brzezinski and and Joe Scarborough have started to stand up for journalistic integrity.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 3

Oh, boy — you’re just going for it aren’t you? It’s not like the President of the United States has spent the past few weeks dogmatically defining CNN as fake news, or anything.

Answer: Other, please specify — Yes, I do trust CNN to report fairly on Trump’s presidency, but only because CEO Jeff Zucker faced so much blow back for his network’s biased, Trump-focused election coverage that CNN has made the switch towards unbiased political coverage once more.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 4

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Answer: Other, please specify — Oh my dear Lord no. But not in the way you imply with this clearly biased question.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 5 I can’t really deal with how absurdly worded this survey is. But ok, I’ll bite. Is the ‘mainstream media’ (a misleading misnomer by which you are really referring to liberally skewed media outlets) sometimes condescending or opposed to issues aligned with Republican-party values? Yes. Do I think it does a poor job in representing the stances of conservative voters and politicians on those issues? No. Because the mainstream media deals with real facts, not alternative ones.

Answer: I’m not selecting any of these, and I need a glass of wine.

A desperately need glass of Merlot.
You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?

Now that I’m properly fortified, let’s get back to the surveying!

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 6

I think it says a lot about the state of nation that the GOP assumes most constituents are consuming news primarily via cable television.

Answer: I’m not selecting any of these because I’m a nerd and an informed citizen who, as John Oliver suggests, makes sure to check the facts cited by my media sources. Which means, you know, reading more often than watching TV. And taking the TV I do watch with a grain of salt — even the funny stuff.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 7

Oh wow, oh wow, a question I’m actually interested in answering!

Answer: Why yes, I do. My daily news consumption consists a variety of newspapers, news magazines, and podcasts, including, but not limited to, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, Slate, The Hill, The Week, Vox, Jezebel, Mother Jones, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and Politico, among others. When it’s relevant, I also read the SCOTUS blog and the direct text of congressional bills provided online. Yes, it takes a lot of time to read all that. Yes, it’s worth it. No, I don’t get bored.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 8

Will you throw out my responses if I don’t say Fox News?

Answer: The ‘failing’ New York Times.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 9

I am afraid for the future of humanity.

Answer: Other, please specify — Oh, yeah. In fact, I trust the mainstream media to tell the truth about the Republican Party’s positions and actions a lot more than I trust the Republican Party. Of course, I could say the same thing about the Democratic party. I don’t take my news directly from political parties, you see.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 10

I would just like to take this time to say that if I had submitted this survey for a grade in my AP statistics class, I would have failed.

Answer: Other, please specify — Yup, I do. Especially considering how often the media publishes videos, transcripts, tweets and quotes directly from the Trump administration. Pretty hard to make stuff up when you can see it with your own eyes and hear it with your own ears.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 11

I don’t even know where to begin with the insanely inflammatory and biased language in this question. I probably need more wine.

Answer: Other, please specify — no. I don’t think it’s unfair when the media reports verifiable facts from a variety of sources. Sorry if you weren’t expecting journalists to do their due diligence regarding your haphazardly crafted Executive Order.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 12

FYI, it’s a little more complicated than that, something President Trump well knows.

Answer: Yes.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 13

Excuse me, I think I need a minute to address my imminent rage stroke.

Answer: Other, please specify — OH MY GOD NO.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 14

Okay, can we just talk about the contradictory and syntactical mess that is this question? So, I think what they want to ask is “Do you believe that contrary to what the media says, cutting taxes does not create jobs?” or “Do you believe that as the media says, raising taxes creates jobs?” But instead, they’re asking nothing? I feel like we need to get an English teacher involved.

Answer: Other, please specify — Please get a copy editor, and also, to address your poorly worded question, I believe that trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Since, as Harvard professor Christopher Jencks says, “It’s like giving people aspirin if they have cancer.”

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 15

Okay, can we just address the elephant in the room right now? There are places in the world where Christians are horrifically persecuted. America is not one of them.

Answer: No.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 16

Wow. How much money have you received from the NRA today? Hate to break it to you, but numerous studies have shown that America’s rate of gun violence is astronomical compared to the rest of the world’s. Wonder why that could be?

Answer: No.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 17

I’m super confused — which side of the aisle has had problems with false stories being spread about them?

Answer: No.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 18

I’m sorry, I’m done. I AM SO CONFUSED. WHAT SLURS EVEN EXIST TO REFER TO CONSERVATIVE PEOPLE. I GENUINELY DO NOT KNOW.

Answer: Other, please specify: WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN????

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 19

I honestly had no idea that this was even a concern within the Republican party. Considering that the vast majority of registered Republicans voted for Trump, I don’t think y’all have much to be worried about.

Answer: No.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 20

I AM GENUINELY SO LOST WHAT ARE THESE ‘FALSE FEUDS’ OF WHICH YOU SPEAK??

Answer: Other, please specify — …What.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 21

I’m pretty sure the cornerstone of journalistic ethics is not jumping to conclusions. Like, that’s kind of the whole point.

Answer: No.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 22

OH YOU MEAN LIKE THIS TIME? OR THIS TIME? OR ALSO THIS TIME? THIS IS NOT AN ‘IF’ QUESTION, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE. IT HAPPENED. WE WERE ALL THERE.

Answer: Other, please specify — I’m sorry, I can’t dignify this with a response. Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 23You mean do I agree with the Trump Administrations’ fervent desire to prioritize reporters from a known alt-right, white nationalist publication over legitimate journalists?

Answer: Other, please specify — Hell. No.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 24

If you’re asking if I’m alright with the fact that our President has carte blanche to spew nonsensical ramblings via social media whenever his heart desires, I think you need some professional help.

Answer: Other, please specify — PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY TAKE AWAY THE MAN’S TWITTER.

Mainstream Media Accountability Survey -- Question 25

I’m sorry, I must be misunderstanding you. DID YOU JUST ASK ME IF I THINK THE REPUBLICAN PARTY NEEDS TO SPEND MORE TIME ATTACKING MAINSTREAM MEDIA?

Answer: Other, please specify — Why don’t you consider spending more of your time and resources on coming up with coherent policy instead of trying to dismantle the free press, since the Bill of Rights is so important to you?

There you have it friends. The Mainstream Media Accountability Survey in all its glory. If you, like me, are a masochist, or just want to get your name on some sort of government watch list, please feel free to take the survey here.

I’m going to go — I need some more wine.

— S

Day 46: February 16, 2017

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