[ANALYSIS] Trump, Republicans Still Promoting Deceptive Propaganda Masquerading as Online Poll
As the 2020 Presidential election inches closer and Donald Trump falls farther behind Joe Biden in the polls, the Trump campaign has to resort to desperate tactics to make up ground. The campaign is still promoting what looks to be an online poll, but in reality, is a group of questions (propaganda) made to persuade and deceive the American people.
The survey is called the “Official Mainstream Media Accountability Survey” and the poll is stamped with “Certified Website of Donald J. Trump” at the top of the survey. If you Google “Trump media poll”, the first two searches that show up are the polls on the GOP’s website and on Trump’s website.
I found the survey watching Youtube videos, as the ad was promoted to me, and I clicked on it to see what the Trump administration was asking. I took a screenshot of all 20 questions and this what the survey asked:
- Do you believe the mainstream media has tried to delegitimize the crisis at our southern border?
- Do you trust the mainstream media to put the interests of America first?
- Do you believe reporters like Jim Acosta angle their questions to promote liberal propaganda?
- Do you trust the mainstream media to report on President Trump fairly?
- Do you believe people make up stories about our movement because they know the mainstream media will glorify them for it?
- On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing President Trump? (Select as many that apply.)
- Do you believe the media disdains conservatives?
- Which do you think the media cares more about?
- America’s Sucess
- Their TV Ratings
- Do you believe the media dislikes Americans of faith?
- Do you believe the mainstream media does their due-diligence by fact-checking before publishing stories on the Trump administration?
- Do you believe the media fails to report on Democrats’ scandals?
- Do you believe the media sensationalizes and exaggerates stories in order to paint President Trump and conservatives in a bad light?
- Do you believe that the media purposely tries to divide Republicans in order to help elect Democrats?
- Based on your answer above, do you believe that the Republican Party should spend more time and resources holding mainstream media accountable?
- Do you agree with President Trump’s strategy of communicating directly with his supporters through Twitter, email, text messages and Facebook videos?
- Do you believe the media is biased when it covers President Trump’s stances on illegal immigration (ex: the Wall, ending Sanctuary cities)?
- Do you believe the media is biased when it covers people of faith and supporters or religious liberties?
- Do you believe that the media has been too quick to spread false stories about our movement?
- What percentage do you believe is an accurate representation of President Trump’s positive news coverage by mainstream media?
- Are there any other thoughts you’d like to share with the President when it comes to mainstream media accountability?
If you read through the questions, you will realize that none of them are actually questions. They are opinions masqueraded as questions made to influence the person reading the question. The survey is far from being a scientific one.
Psychology has shown that if someone hears something enough times, even if it knows the statement to be false, its subconscious will begin to believe and be influenced by that bit of information.
“Essentially, the more you say something, the more it sticks in — and possibly on — people’s heads,” said Jennifer Latson via Rice Business. “It doesn’t even have to be true — and that’s the problem. What advertisers call “effective frequency,” psychologists call the “illusory truth effect”: the more you hear something, the easier it is for your brain to process, which makes it feel true, regardless of its basis in fact.”
“A recent study by Yale researchers finds that “[the] ‘illusory truth effect’ for fake news headlines occurs despite a low level of overall believability, and even when the stories are labeled as contested by fact-checkers or are inconsistent with the reader’s political ideology.”
The Trump administration knows the power of repeating a message, even a false one, over and over again. As such, the Trump campaign is ironically using science (psychology), to brainwash Americans, discredit journalism and the media, and peddle anti-science idealogy through repetition.
For more on why the Trump administration would release this survey, NPR’s Danielle Kurtzleben wrote a descriptive and detailed article on the reasons. SPOILER: It isn’t to gather information on potential voters but to persuade them.
Here is a portion of Kurtzleben’s insight on the Trump survey:
“(1) Those biased questions can plant ideas in people’s heads,” said Kurtzleben. “If Jane Doe happens to be a Trump supporter and a Christian, she might not think that she’s being particularly hurt by news organizations — until she sees a question like, “Do you believe that people of faith have been unfairly characterized by the media?”
“In this way, this survey is a cousin of the “push poll,” which is often performed during political campaigns as a way of slinging mud at an opponent under the guise of survey research.
“(2) The survey’s wording plants ideas in subtler ways. For example, by using the word “movement” repeatedly — “Do you believe that the media has been far too quick to spread false stories about our movement?” — the survey casts the respondents not just as ordinary voters but rather as members of something bigger.
“(3) Another possibility: The survey could be testing which ideas resonate with Trump supporters and which don’t. If respondents don’t think the media have been unfair to people of faith, but they do think (as another question proposes) that “the media uses slurs rather than facts to attack conservative stances on issues like border control, religious liberties, and ObamaCare,” that idea might reasonably be more likely to show up in a future ad or a Trump speech.
“(4) An additional potential boost from this survey: list-building. True, the survey went out to people who already are (duh) on a Trump email list. But those people could potentially share it with their friends or post it on Facebook or Twitter, giving the Trump team more people to send future email blasts.
“And (5) It could give Team Trump more numbers to put out to bolster Trump’s case that the news media really are the bogeyman he says they are.”
If you want to see the actual photos from the survey that I encountered on YouTube, here they are.
Donald Trump’s Mainstream Media Accountability Survey Screenshots
About Ryan Lipton
Ryan is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Business Journalism. He has written in the past for SB Nation’s Silver and Black Pride, USA Today Sports Media Group, North Carolina Business News Wire, the Daily Tar Heel, and has worked with Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league. Ryan is also a regular contributor to MeidasTouch.com
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