web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

The Ignorant American


Media-Monitor-logo

Two days after the 9/11 attacks, CNN and Time magazine released a joint poll asking whether the U.S. should declare war. Sixty-two percent of respondents said yes. Asked whom war should be declared against, 61 percent said they didn’t know.
That, in a nutshell, is why most polls are an exercise in frivolity – a depressing if sometimes perversely entertaining reflection of Americans’ constantly shifting, poorly informed, half-baked and often contradictory collective mindset.
Three years ago the historian Rick Shenkman released a slim but information-packed and thought-provoking volume titled Just How Stupid Are We? in which he lamented a generation of Americans “far less equipped than their grandparents were to grapple with the challenges facing the nation.”
Among the dozens of examples cited by Shenkman, he noted that “Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Fewer than half of Americans could tell you her name during her entire tenure.”
He also pointed out that just “35 percent know that Congress can override a presidential veto” while 49 percent think the president can suspend the Constitution.”
The idea that we are living in a confederacy of dunces is nothing new; Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken were just two of many men of letters who almost from the nation’s founding never tired of excoriating the ignorance of their countrymen. Imagine what they’d think upon making the acquaintance of the current crop of Americans.
In his 2002 book MobocracyHow the Media’s Obsession with Polling Twists the News, Alters Elections and Undermines Democracy, Matthew Robinson highlighted the following:
            ● Twenty-nine percent of the American public believes the Constitution guarantees everyone a job; 42 percent believe it guarantees health care; 75 percent believe it guarantees a high school education.
● Nearly half – 45 percent – of all Americans believe the Marxist axiom “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” is in the Constitution.
● A January 2000 Gallup Poll found that 66 percent of Americans could name the host of TV’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Regis Philbin), but just 6 percent knew the name of the speaker of the House of Representatives (Dennis Hastert).
● Political scientists Michael X. Delli Carpini and Scott Keeter attempted to get a handle on the public’s political knowledge by studying thousands of questions asked in polls beginning back in the 1930s. Among their findings: more people had heard of John Lennon than Karl Marx; more Americans could identify actor Bill Cosby than could name either of their U.S. senators; and more people knew who said “What’s Up, Doc,” than “Give me liberty or give me death.”
● A 1986 survey found that almost 24 percent of the American public did not know who George H.W. Bush was or that he was then serving his second term as vice president of the United States.
● The Vanishing Voter Project, a program of Harvard’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, conducted a running survey of randomly selected registered voters during the 2000 presidential campaign. Respondents were asked six questions on the policy positions of Republican George W. Bush and six on the positions of Democrat Al Gore. Of the twelve questions – which covered a broad range of topics including defense spending, campaign financing, offshore drilling and affirmative action – only one was answered correctly by a majority of Americans. The rest of them weren’t even a close call.
The mindlessness works both ways: pollsters can be just as frivolous as the people they’re paid to question. A Time/CNN poll in 2002 asked, “Just as your best guess, do you think Osama bin Laden is alive or dead?” Meanwhile, TV Guide actually did a poll to learn whether Americans would prefer Barbara Walters or Dianne Sawyer to interview bin Laden (assuming he was alive, of course).

The distinction for the all-time mindless poll question was no doubt earned by the ABC News/Washington Post polling unit, which in July 1985 asked people whether they thought President Reagan would suffer a recurrence of cancer before leaving office three and a half years later. (For the record, 54 percent were certain he wouldn’t, 33 percent said he would, and an intelligent sliver, 12 percent, said they had no idea.)

 

 

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Ignorant American”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
U.S. President Barack Obama escorts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of the Oval Office
Pirated Phone Conversation of Obama Slamming Bibi from Unverified Source
Latest Indepth Stories
Young children 'recruited' by the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) terrorist group for a Shari'a jihadist army in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Presidential-Seal-062014

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

Clinton-051614

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Readers who’ve stuck with the Monitor over the years will forgive this rerun of sorts, but as we approach the fortieth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War – and with the stench of presidential indecisiveness hanging so heavily over Washington these days – it seemed only appropriate to revisit Richard Nixon’s role in enabling Israel to recover from the staggering setbacks it suffered in the first week of fighting.

Shakespeare had it right. The evil that men do indeed lives after them. Case in point: Nahum Goldmann, who served in a variety of Jewish and Zionist organizational leadership posts from the 1920s through the 1970s.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/the-ignorant-american-2/2011/06/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: