Meanwhile, the Caller reports, 34 percent of respondents thought the government should spend more on anti-poverty programs even though only 27 percent thought they were even somewhat effective. So seven percent of respondents apparently think the government should spend more on ineffective programs. This hints at the problems with the poll itself: asking a bunch of non-experts vague questions with undefined terms will lead to conflicting answers. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and S-CHIP, which provides health insurance for children, are all popular programs. Do the respondents realize they may be talking about those programs when they answer the question? If not, why even write an article about this poll? (Perhaps because the Daily Caller is a conservative opinion website whose staffers and readers likely already believe that anti-poverty programs are ineffective.) If you quickly peruse the article and see the words “anti-poverty programs” and “ineffective,” you may conclude, as Carlson himself apparently did, that such programs actually make poor people poorer, even though there is no evidence contained in the article nor the poll for such a claim.
Journalists are not supposed to merely reflect the public’s misconceptions back to them. They are supposed to correct those misconceptions. But there is a word for this kind of article, and the word is not journalism—it’s propaganda.