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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Thursday, January 16, 2003

My Stint As Research Assistant For Tim Blair

From Tim Blair himself, commenting on a recent John Le Carre column:

How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history. But they swung it. A recent poll tells us that one in two Americans now believe Saddam was responsible for the attack on the World Trade Centre.

Haven't seen that poll. Sounds dubious, but let's reserve judgment. Are any readers able to help? [End Blair]

OK, from The Mirror in the UK:

TWO thirds of Americans don't want to wage war on Iraq without UN backing, a poll revealed yesterday.

But half mistakenly believe that Iraqis carried out the 9/11 attacks.

Larry Hugick, who led the survey, said: "We found that most Americans weren't happy to go to war without support.

"Half thought Iraqis were responsible for September 11, but they still did not back Bush's government going it alone."

And from the Philadelphia Inquirer, running a Knight-Ridder piece on what seems to be the survey in question:

Two-thirds of the respondents said they thought they had a good grasp of the issues surrounding the Iraqi crisis, but closer questioning revealed large gaps in that knowledge. For instance, half of those surveyed said one or more of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens. In fact, none were.

Now, why do I think this is the same poll? Well, both cite 1,204 respondents, and both quote Bill Quarton, 52, of Ann Arbor, Mich. But maybe it was his lucky day.

So, from "at least one Iraqi hijacker", to "Iraqis were responsible" to "Saddam was responsible". Gee, I play "telephone" with my kids at the dinner table all the time, and it is not this much fun. Probably because they listen, and think.

UPDATE: This link suggests some other poll, cites "two-thirds" of respondents, and mentions the "Council on Foreign Relations". Here, in fact, is a poll summary, helpfully undated. I would check the PDF link, but Adobe is crashing my computer [I peeked - early Oct., 2002]. In any case, Le Carre definitely says "one in two", which tracks my theory.

NO GUTS, NO GLORY: The poll was conducted Oct 2-6, 2002. The fateful query: "based on what you’ve heard or read: Do you believe that Saddam Hussein helped the terrorists in the September 11 th attacks, or don’t you think he was involved?"; 66 percent say "helped the terrorists".

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