How Time magazine headlined the poll:
More Americans Have Supported Syrian Air Strikes Than Opposed
Forty-nine percent of Americans back strikes by cruise missiles and drones that don’t risk U.S. lives, the Quinnipiac poll found, with 38 percent opposed
The actual headline from the poll:
American Voters Say 2-1 Stay Out Of Syria
How Time reports on the poll in its lead:
A plurality of Americans supported potential air strikes on Syrian government installations in a poll this summer by Quinnipiac University.
How the poll’s first paragraph reads:
American voters say 61 – 27 percent that it is not in the national interest to be involved in Syria and oppose 59 – 27 percent providing arms and military supplies to anti-government groups, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
How Time then contradicts itself and hints at its own lie:
But majorities of Americans say it is not in the interest of the United States to involve itself in the Syrian conflict and are opposed to providing military aid to the Syrian opposition.
How can it be true that a majority of Americans say the U.S. shouldn’t get involved and at the same time be true that a plurality of Americans support air strikes on Syria? Obviously, both can’t be true. And they’re not. Time’s headline and lead paragraph are not just misleading, they are a lie. Time doesn’t bother to try to explain the self-contradiction to its readers.
See, what Time doesn’t inform its readers is that the poll question it is referring to was not a question about whether the people polled supported or opposed military action against Syria. Rather, it was a question that assumed the U.S. would attack Syria and asked under that assumption whether those surveyed would prefer the U.S. to use weapons that risked American lives or weapons that don’t. Here is the actual question:
Do you think the United States should or should not use weapons which don’t risk American lives, such as drones and cruise missiles, to attack Syrian government targets?
There are only to possible answers to this question: (a) I think the U.S. should use weapons that risk American lives, or (b) I think the U.S. should not use weapons that risk American lives. The answers given absolutely in no way show that Americans support attacking Syria. For a plurality of those polled to have answered (b) does not imply that they (c) actually support attacking Syria. And, of course, the poll, as already noted, in fact showed that a majority are opposed to such action. That was actually the very next question.
The Time reporter, Zeke J Miller, could not possibly have not been aware of what the poll actually said. Incompetence simply can’t explain this. He made a willful decision to attempt to deliberately deceive his readers, knowing that many would see the headline and not read past it, that many more would not pick up on his self-contradiction, and that fewer still would bother to go to the source to see what the poll actually said (yes, I’m one of those few who does that). So he thought he could get away with it.
Which he no doubt will. Miller probably has a bright career ahead of him. He knows how to play the game to get ahead. He knows that leaving the job of actual journalism and instead becoming a hack for the establishment will get him places. He understands that joining the priesthood for the state religion and playing the role of propagandist to manufacture consent for criminal U.S. foreign policies might open doors for him that being a real journalist and reporting the truth just would not.