Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Misleading headlines about honesty ...

Yesterday the Times had a headline on one of their articles which got me thinking.

The headline suggested that polling evidence - which you can read for yourself if you follow the link to it in my post yesterday about the YouGov survey concerned, or here - indicated that voters thought that the Leave campaign had been more honest than the Remain campaign.

However, if you read either at the article underneath that headline, or indeed the actual survey data, you are likely to conclude that a more accurate headline would have been "Many voters think both campaigns are not being honest."

The proportion of people who were unhappy with the truthfulness of the information they were getting from each side (nearly half in each case) was far more striking than the trivial differences between the ratings of each side (about five percentage points.)

Of course, the press themselves have not exactly been paragons of accuracy during the referendum. In my opinion the most effective and damaging falsehood of the campaign did not come originally from either side but from the press - specifically, the false allegation that David Cameron had suggested that a Leave vote might make World War III more likely.

He did say that the EU had contributed to peace and security but he never mentioned World War three and the words attributed to the PM by the press were far more alarmist than what he actually said.

Sadly I think that although both Leave and Remain could and should have done much better in presenting their views honestly and positively, so could the press have done a lot better in reporting what people actually said rather than twisting it to fit their preconceptions.

2 comments:

Jim said...

I think this applies to a lot of things all over politics in general.

People are sick and tired of politicians not answering questions, or answering questions that were not asked.

Its fine to add something you think is worthwhile AFTER ANSWERING THE QUESTION, but its not fine if you just answer a question that was not asked rather than answer the question that was.

And by answer the question that was asked, I mean answer it.

Chris Whiteside said...

Indeed