Nov
18
2009

Post Polling, Afghanistan (Again)

The Washington Post reports its latest polling on the Afghanistan war, and once again have managed to put together a baffling question that seems intended to muddy up the debate over a troop surge. The lead and headline("Poll Finds Guarded Optimism on Obama's Afghanistan Plan") stress the idea that the public still seems to have faith in the White House. But the strangest part comes when the paper asked people about sending in more troops. As the Post's write-up explains:

Asked to choose between a larger influx of troops to fight Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and train the Afghan military, and a smaller number of new U.S. forces more narrowly focused on training, Americans divide 46 percent for the bigger number, 45 percent for the lower one.

Apparently the Post thinks the debate is between a smaller surge to train the Afghan military, or a larger one to do that plus defeat bad guys. No surprise, then, that a lot of people would find the larger surge option appealing. But does that resemble the actual military debate going on over Afghanistan? And why exclude the option of sendingno additionaltroops, or bringingthe ones already there back home?

This is the second time in the last few weeksthatthe Post's polling on Afghanistan has seemed designed to inflate support fora surge of somesort. As FAIR noted, the paper's October 21 report featured this poll question:

U.S. military commanders have requested approximately 40,000 more U.S. troops for Afghanistan. Do you think Obama should or should not order these additional forces to Afghanistan?

The Post had previously asked the question in a more neutral manner– i.e., without referring to "U.S. military commanders" or to Obama, which seemed to significantly increase the level of support for a troop surge (from 24 percent to 47 percent).

It seems fairly clear that the Post's editorial page is strongly supportive of a troop surge; is someone trying to make sure the paper's polling helps them make that argument?

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.