Rigged NPR Online Poll Shows Disinformation Campaign

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The battle for the hearts and minds of Americans has officially hit the internet.  The recently rigged NPR poll (Obama vs. Fox) demonstrates how a small skirmish over an online poll is symptomatic of a much larger pandemic of propaganda and is far more widespread than commonly known.

Raw Story recently detailed how various conservative websites have rigged (also known as gamed, or more commonly online as ‘freeped’) yet another online political poll.  This most recent freeped poll was on NPR asking “In White House vs. Fox News War Of Words, Who Gets Your Vote?”

The results might surprise you.  A resounding 78% of the votes were cast in favor of supporting Fox News over Barack Obama.

NPR online poll gamed

Seems a bit strange for a poll on the supposedly liberal NPR on the supposedly liberal internet to generate such a tilted result, doesn’t it?  As suspected the poll was rigged by various conservative websites, such as Newsbusters, Republican National Committe on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, “Patriots” sites, and most of all, the Free Republic.  This is not the first time this has happened either.  There has been a strong pattern of freeping polls done for many years, at least dating back to the pro-Bush ‘fixing’ of a Der Spiegel poll in 2004.

Another curiously tilted online poll that was freeped can be found Vote.com, which asked “[Should the nation] Pass Obama’s Health Care Reform?”

Despite every reputable pollster in America demonstrating very strong majorities in favor of a strong, robust public option, the online results were:

Yes  7%   1974 votes

No 93% 27389 votes


Another freeped poll suggested that 82% of Americans want President Obama to release his birth certificate.  Although a majority of self-identifying Republicans either believe Obama was foreign born or are not sure, 77% believe he was born in the United States.

The methods of freeping vary.  Many online polls simply have no limit to the number of times someone can vote.  Thus, if conservative websites can get 4000 people to vote 10 times each, that generates 40,000 votes.  Some websites limit each user to one vote, but this is easily overcome by clearing cookies or using proxies to mask a users url.  This rigging is not limited to online polling either, and is common on discussion boards, telephone calls, and mailings in order to simulate greater grassroots support, and is thus a form of astroturfing.  Another way in which rigging of online results can take place is through software, such as GIYUS’ Megaphone. According to the Times Online in 2006:

“5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) have downloaded special “megaphone” software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints.”

The Democratic Underground often encourages members to counter the freeping of polls.  Although some would say this is freeping in and of itself, the DU appears to have no original calls to artificially inflate numbers of polls except in cases where it has already taken place by conservative websites.  Recent examples include gay marriage in Maine, abortion rights, stem-cell research, racism, the NAACP, and the Armed Forces There was even one mention of the GOP directly asking for freeping:

HELENA – The state Republican Party asked supporters Friday to influence a newspaper’s Internet poll that posed a question about Sen. Conrad Burns and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, hoping to sway the unscientific survey’s results.

Although nearly any regular user of the internet knows not to put any stock in an unscientific online poll, the results have a discernable effect on public perception.  In the last example mentioned, the Billings Gazette reported that “Most voters are not concerned … about Sen. Conrad Burns’ (R-MT) relationship with indicted D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” This of course was not the case, and Burns was ousted in the 2006 election by Jon Tester mainly because of Conrad’s ties to the Jack Abramoff, the GOP lobbyist and Bush activist currently in prison for defrauding American Indians and corruption.

The key to this disinformation campaign by right wing websites is clearly to artificially inflate their numbers to simulate the conclusion that their viewpoints are more popular than they actually are.  When someone doesn’t understand the inherently flawed nature of online polls, they could very easily take the results literally.  This has also been noted in the controversy around the recent 912 Tea Party protest in Washington D.C., where conservative websites continue to use an attendance figure ranging from 1.2 to 2 million, despite one of the groups central to organizing it only stating 300,000, and the most objective and reliable figures putting the number at around 75,000.

If real journalism is to survive the digital age, accurate reporting is essential.  This means never taking the results of an online poll seriously, since they are not representative of society as a whole and can so easily be manipulated by propagandists.  This NPR poll has demonstrated the deliberate campaign of disinformation by right wing websites in no uncertain terms.

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13 Responses to Rigged NPR Online Poll Shows Disinformation Campaign

  1. Pingback:

    +2 Vote -1 Vote +1uberVU - social comments

  2. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Sam Sewell
    November 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    I would have expected a poll on how many people think Obama should release what he has been hiding to be 100%. Those who think he is a con-man would want it and those who think he is innocent of fraud would wan’t it. It would settle the matter.

    However, the missing birth certificate mjight just be a false clue:

    Other records that he refuses to release are:

    Obama/Dunham marriage license

    Soetoro/Dunham marriage license

    Soetoro adoption records

    Punahou School records

    Selective Service Registration(Released. But, is possibly an altered Document)

    Occidental College records

    Passport

    Columbia College records

    Columbia thesis

    Harvard College records

    Harvard Law Review articles(None (maybe 1, Not Signed)

    University of Chicago scholarly articles(None)

    Baptism certificate

    Medical records

    Law practice client list

    Illinois State Senate records(None (Locked up to prohibit public view)

    Illinois State Senate schedule(Lost (All other Illinois state senators’ records are intact)

    With all of Obama’s different names, with his documented long term relations to convicted criminals, with his active efforts to prohibit us from knowing where he was born, with his active efforts to keep us from seeing his credentials, with his documented registration to practice law showing only one name, with his being an ex-attorney not authorized to practice law, but representing himself as such, with his non-existent “Office of The President Elect”, with the dozen or so lawsuits against him to prove his citizenship, with the various promises he made to voters and has since reneged on, with his documented complete lack of respect to America, with his refusal to salute the American flag and refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance with others on stage and his other disrespectful actions, with his many millions of dollars in campaign funds suspected to be from foreign sources, with campaign donations accepted from possible terrorists groups, with his planned first official act as President to make a speech to the Muslim world in a Muslim Capitol, Obama has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can not in any way, shape or form be trusted.

  3. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Texasguy01
    November 1, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Why do the American people finance a totally liberal network like NPR? Perhaps in the preinternet or cable TV era such shows as Sesame Strret and a different viewpoint were interesting. However in the internet age US ing US taxpayer dollars to promote a clearly Marxist anti traditional American values agenda is a complete waste of taxpayer funds. I have supported for years the removal of taxpayer funding for NPR. I was a long time listener of NPR radio for years and enjoyed some of their creative and unique programming but when it really tilted left I switched it off for talk radio. It became stale, dull and totally leftist. I will listen to ads on AM to listen to Michael Savage any day over NPR. He is a creative and brilliant thinker and analyst vs the stale old Marxist propaganda readers on NPR. Defund public funding of NPR now. If they can support themself without taxpayer funding this is America and I support their right to free speech as a fundimental right. I am sure they would not feel the same about talk radio.

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      November 2, 2009 at 1:48 am

      Wow, we got a live one here folks. Texasguy, first off you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. Look up the definition of marxism and stop trying to apply it to anything you don’t like.

      Second, only a small fraction of the funding of NPR comes from government sources. The vast majority comes from individual donors such as myself.

      Third, if all you want is soundbites and misleading headlines, Fox News is the place to go. NPR actually has in depth segments that flesh out all of the relevant issues on a topic, then they let you decide for yourself what to think, instead of *telling* you what to think.

      Fourth, public radio cites FOUR TIMES as many conservative think tanks than liberal ones (citations available). So the entire rational of your ‘argument’ is moot.

      Fifth and finally, despite your hostility and ignorance, or perhaps because of it, you really need to get your news from a wide variety of sources. Don’t like NPR? Don’t listen to it, but don’t base your entire world view on conservative hate radio and it’s wild conspiracies. Think for yourself, check out European, Asian, and South American media to get a more rounded perspective on life.

      • -6 Vote -1 Vote +1Live from New York
        November 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm

        Ole Ole Olson–sound like its time for you to return to Mexico–enjoy the tamales!

  4. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Heather
    November 1, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Glad to see coverage of the disinformation machine for what it is. Propaganda much?

  5. -4 Vote -1 Vote +1Fred
    November 2, 2009 at 10:58 am

    One would think that Fox News is the only slanted source of news?
    Have you lost your minds, or just the ability to think for yourselves?
    MSNBC gets a pass again.
    Wow.
    It is so sad to watch this happen.

    • Ole Ole Olson
      +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
      November 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm

      What pray tell are you talking about? The article had nothing to do with slanted journalism. Plz try again.

  6. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Fred
    November 2, 2009 at 11:01 am

    And I suppose the current generation of politicians were the first to stack the polls?
    Wake up.
    Better yet…
    Go back to sleep.

    It sickens the rest of us to listen to you guys congradulate yourselves on your piety.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Fred
    November 2, 2009 at 11:02 am

    PS
    I happen to Love NPR.

    a lot!

  8. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1old1
    November 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Well if the silent majority in America had been reborn and have now stood up against this attempted Communist coup that now threatens our America, I am sure there would be those that would post blogs like this to make those that have not joined the New Right movement think there was still some kind of political balance in America. There’s not! America has jumped to the far far right and they have went so far right that it even scares me. It will take a while to level out but what we will end up with when it does, is still unknown. Such is life, always full of changes.

  9. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Diane
    November 6, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Sorry, but you should face it. People don’t want anymore giveaways. Progressives are the real fringe.