Sunday, September 20, 2009

Checking Polls on Czechs and Poles or How NPR Makes Stuff Up

A reader in the most recent open thread noted that, in covering the Obama administration's scrapping of the so-called missile shield, NPR claimed that popular support for the US missile program was "mixed." The reader asked, "Is it 'mixed'?"

It's a good question. I spent a little time searching for polling data on how Czechs and Poles reacted to the US plans to install missile defense in their countries. The remarkable thing was that most polls showed opposition to the US plans outweighed support in both Poland and the Czech Republic. Opposition among Czechs has been far stronger than in Poland and there was some increase in Polish popular support during the Russia-Georgia conflict in the summer of 2008.

The best analysis of polling data can be found here at Monkey Cage, with the added benefit being that the author, Joshua Tucker, includes links to the various polls. Robert Dreyfuss of the Nation did an admirable summary of Eastern European public opinion toward US missile plans back in the spring of 2009.

So given the documented public opposition [somewhat "mixed" in Poland, and adamant in the Czech Republic] to US desires to expand its militarism into those countries - how does NPR present this?

On Friday's ME feature that a blog reader commented on Eric Westervelt claims that "for some there was a sense of betrayal. The Poles had steadfastly supported George W. Bush's policies." Of course by "the Poles" he means the rightwing Polish government. After letting two apologists for the missile "shield" weigh in, Westervelt does note that "Key political elites in Poland and the Czech Republic supported the original missile plan, but public opinion in both countries was always much more divided." Of course no numbers or facts are allowed to intrude in this fuzzy statement.

On Saturday's ATC Guy Raz talks to the Atlantic's James Fallows. Their discussion of missile defense features this interchange:
Raz: "The U.S. has scrapped plans to install a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, a program...that the Poles and the Czechs wanted."

Mr. Fallows: "Opinion in the Czech Republic seems to be divided, whereas the Poles are more enthusiastic."
So the muddled "much more divided" of Westervelt has been discarded for the completely dishonest assessment from Raz that the US missile defense was something "that the Poles and Czechs wanted" - while Fallows' uses the lazy and dishonest description of "seems to be divided" to ignore overhelming Czech opposition, while defying published data to claim that the less overwhelming popular Polish opposition is actually enthusiasm(!). Hmmm, maybe ignorance is strength after all.


golp said...

Whatever you do, don't listen to Left, Right and Center - Mr. Toad (aka Tony Blankley) will make your brain curdle. The nakedness of his insincerity, the blatant "in your face" manipulative "see if I care" twisting of the truth, the unctuous uncaring for facts while posing in direct opposition to the same, unapologetic advocacy for ignorance, if not actual ignorance.

JayV said...

I'm glad we have this blog. And this post is great.

However, I find it harder each day to listen to NPR; even if I make a critical comment on one of their stories (on the new :-P), I think it's all for naught. I tend to just recommend comments from my friends on that site or people who post here.

St. Gope said...

I find it harder each day to listen to NPR
Amen. It's just so disturbing that the NPR audience is so large and so many "liberals" listen to it uncritically while driving their cars, or in the semi-consciousness of the nearly woken state of 5am, or while doing the dishes, and the innocent children, learning to tie their shoes while this idiocy drones:
But NPR called out to the children to said, "Let the little children hear me, and do not hinder them, for the Empire of Murka belongs to such as these.

b!p!f!b! said...

Methinks I've reached the other side of the litmus by this time; I've found it easier to tune 'em out - and it's a bit of a relief not to have my inner earhairs aggravated by that pathetic Peanut Gallery.

And good ol' Myt VOLUNTARILY exerts just a little bit of sleuthing effort and calls out these chinks-in-the-armor of those PAID (and paid handsomely, lest we forget) to blanket this shite up for consumption by the gullible.

krameroneill said...

Hey, thanks for that, Matthew. That's pretty much exactly the analysis I kept waiting to hear in the NPR report, but, know.

Great summary.

Porter Melmoth said...

Wise and accurate comments, all.

The generic terms 'Poles' and 'Czechs' are typical imperialist tools to 'un-people' the issue. Plus, NPR's no doubt mixed up with the contractor corporations who stood to win big, building a worthless 'defense' system. Every imperialist cause needs a publicist.

Those E. Euro nations who are in the nutcracker are sick of being exploited. They're totally EU-oriented. When I was in the Baltics, it was the EU who were upgrading infrastructure, (that's part of the deal when you're in the EU) not the Americans. The local inhabitants would much rather have everyday stuff that works instead of a flaky notion of being defended against a large entity from which they get their life-giving natural gas. In other words, Cold War simplification on the 'Muricans' part simply does not apply on the ground in E. Europe.

Having failed (for the moment) in New Europe, the Neocon laser beam will now probably shift to establishing a missile shield in the Guianas, Brasil, and rock-steady Colombia, so as to contain the Antichrist of the Moment, Chavez.

(Partial financing available via the Regional Cocaine Cartel...)

Porter Melmoth said...

I would add that any right-wing government that exists in E. Europe is naturally a product of the Bush Era, and should be voted out of office as soon as possible. It has been another MSM failure to recognize the international effects of Bushism: right-wing successes in Canada, France, Mexico, and many other places.

Spain was a refreshing exception.

Porter Melmoth said...

Oh but my goodness, I forgot the TRUE purpose of US missiles in Poland/Czech Rep. Why, it's IRAN, not Putin. What was I thinking? It's one of the most cheap-ass excuses for a great military/industrial gig that I've ever heard. Plus, it's easier to exploit allies.

PS: Does NPR have any input from Slovakia or Romania or Bulgaria or Moldava about what they think? After all, they are all a good deal closer to Iran than PL or CZ.

I would guess that, aside from the limited money that would flow in, those countries wouldn't touch it. Bit awkward, you know.

Anonymous said...

While NPR might characterize their listener support as "staunch and growing", I'd have to say it is "mixed".

Their supporters are a mixed can of nuts.

IMHO, you have to be a nut to support the kind of garbage spewed daily by Steve Inskeep and Adam Davidson.

Anonymous said...

"IMHO, you have to be a nut to support the kind of garbage spewed daily by Steve Inskeep and Adam Davidson." anon

The "typical" listener to NPR believes in: the rule of law; fair wages for fair work; a free press; equal rights; the goodness of America.

Right up until they are told, in subtle and not so subtle ways that those values are "quaint and obsolete". Then they send money to NPR, invest in the market, send their kids to fight and die and kill in places they can't find on a map, support torture and those that order and do the deeds.

I used to think that the "typical" NPR listener was a lot like me but now I KNOW that is a way too charitable evaluation.