What the CNN poll should have asked after the Spanish
by Derek Seidman
The day after the Spanish Socialist Party won the
national elections, a CNN.com poll asked "Do the
election results in Spain represent a victory for the
terrorists?" This type of loaded question is not
uncommon, especially in the polls of that dreaded
refuge of liberal bias, CNN. When former Treasury
Secretary Paul O'Neill came out a few months ago to
say that Bush and his clique were plotting an attack
on Iraq before 9/11, the CNN poll asked "Did Paul
O'Neill betray George Bush?" Whether it occurred to
them to ask a more sensible question (such as, "Did
George Bush betray America?") is unknown.
The horrific bombings in Madrid and the events that
followed are full of important implications, and it
would have benefited the American people for these to
be fully discussed in the media. Unfortunately, this
One way the media shapes and controls the thoughts of
people is by framing information in such a way as to
leave important assumptions unexamined and exclude
alternative ways of looking at things. To frame the
exposure of Bush's pre-9/11 plot for an Iraqi invasion
as a question of whether or not he was betrayed by
that exposure entirely excludes the important issues
for anyone concerned about democracy. It tries to
chase away most people's intuitive first reaction:
that Bush lied to us. It assumes uncritical loyalty
and obedience to a deceitful leader as some sort of
virtue, and implies that to expose this deceit could
be considered a betrayal.
The same principle applies to the CNN polling question
on the Spanish elections. If approached in a more
rational way, discussion of this could have been much
more fruitful towards widening and democratizing the
debate on how to respond to terrorism. Here are five
questions that should have been on the agenda in
addition to the one that CNN chose:
1. Since 90% of Spaniards opposed the war, do the
election results - with the promise by the new anti-war
leader to remove Spanish troops from Iraq - represent a
victory for democracy?
2. Did the recent terrorist attacks in Madrid confirm
the predictions and fears of opponents of the Iraq war
that it would result in more terrorist attacks?
3. In response to the Madrid bombings, should Spain
attack a country that had nothing to do with them?
4. If you were living in England, Italy, or Poland,
would you want your military to leave Iraq?
5. Does the response of the Spanish people to
terrorism serve as a positive counter-example to the
response of the United States government?
Derek Seidman, 23, is a co-editor of Left Hook
(www.lefthook.org). He looks forward to your feedback