Fox Figures Have Called Online Polls “Worthless,” But Fox News Is Citing Them Anyway
Research ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ
Fox News has continuously hyped Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s debate performance by citing online polls that have “Trump winning this debate,” but some Fox hosts, contributors, and online political editors have trashed the talking point, saying the online surveys that have been referenced “are worthless” and that “the idea that you win because your supporters come out and click on the computer more than others tells you nothing.”
Trump Claims “Every Poll” After The First Debate “Has Shown That” He “Did Better” Than Clinton
Trump: “I Know I Did Better Than Hillary, And Every Poll Has Shown That I Did Better.” Following the first presidential debate, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump called in to Fox News’ Fox & Friends and claimed that “every poll” after the debate “has shown that I did better” than Clinton:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): What grade would you give yourself?
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I don't like to grade myself, but I know I did better than Hillary, and every poll has shown that I did better. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/27/16]
The Week: “Trump Told Several Reporters That All The Online Polls Say He Won The Debate.” According to The Week, following the debate, “Trump told several reporters that all the online polls say he won the debate. He did not mention the professional snap poll conducted by CNN that showed Clinton winning the debate.” From The Week’s September 27 article:
In the spin room after his debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump told several reporters that all the online polls say he won the debate. He did not mention the professional snap poll conducted by CNN that showed Clinton winning the debate, 62 percent to 27 percent, and if that poll should be viewed with the caveat that it skewed slightly Democratic, the online polls should be taken with a Trump-sized grain of salt. First, the Trump-friendly headline aggregator Drudge Report — which has its own online poll (spoiler: Trump is winning handily) and doesn't mention CNN's poll — directs its readers to two online polls, where Trump is winning by smaller margins. Trump also has the help of an informal army of online supporters at Reddit who are directing one another to all online polls they can find. [The Week, 9/27/16]
Fox News Cites Online Polls To Argue Trump “Won” Debate “Handily”
Fox’s Steve Doocy: “A Majority Of The Online Polls Show … That [Trump] Is Leading.” Fox host Steve Doocy acknowledged that the online polls were “non-scientific” but nevertheless shared the results of an online ABC News poll showing that “Trump was number one, Hillary was actually number four behind Jill Stein and Gary Johnson.” He also reported that “a majority of the online polls show” Trump won the debate. From the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): It's interesting, Donald Trump was quoting some of the -- he was quoting the polls, but in the overnight, non-scientific polls that have been released, for the most part, Donald Trump is winning in those, if you go online like Drudge and stuff like that. But it's interesting, ABC News had one up last night for a little while. Trump was number one, Hillary was actually number four behind Jill Stein and Gary Johnson.
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): What? Seriously?
DOOCY: How crazy was that?
I think a majority of the online polls show, according to the stuff we saw this morning, shows that he's leading. But it's not scientific. It's just whoever has control of a smart phone. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/27/16]
Sean Hannity: “Every Single Online Poll, But The Clinton News Network, Has Trump Winning This Debate.” Fox host Sean Hannity said that “every single online poll … has Trump winning this debate.” Hannity’s guest, Fox analyst Monica Crowley, suggested that “the elites seemed to think that Mrs. Clinton won,” but “Normal, average Americans who are responding to these instant online polls, they're giving it to Donald Trump.” From the September 27 edition of Fox News’ Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Let's look at the online polls. CBS, The Hill is now 55-39, Trump won the debate. Time was 58-42, and I just checked. Drudge Report -- as a matter of fact, every single online poll, but the Clinton news network, has Trump winning this debate.
MONICA CROWLEY: Yeah, it's interesting. I was following social media during the debate and then after the debate.
HANNITY: How'd it look on social media?
CROWLEY: All of the elites seemed to think that Mrs. Clinton won, which is nol big surprise. She is the status quo, incumbent candidate running in a change election.
HANNITY: Let me guess, Wall Street Journal, NRO guys? That class?
CROWLEY: Yeah, a lot of the elites said, "Yeah, she had command over her facts and she was very self-possessed," and so on. Normal, average Americans who are responding to these instant online polls, they're giving it to Donald Trump because he was speaking their language. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/27/16]
Fox’s Martha MacCallum: “It’s Fascinating To See These Numbers. … They Are Leaning Towards Donald Trump, And By A Pretty Large Margin.” Fox host Martha MacCallum said it was “fascinating to see” online polls “leaning towards Donald Trump, and by pretty large margins,” and she dismissed a scientific poll from CNN, calling it an “outlier.” From the September 27 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom:
TONY SAYEGH: I saw this on the front line of these primary debates. The political class, the pundit class always declare the wrong winner. But then when you really look at how people respond to the both of them -- you named it, The Hill poll, Time, CNBC, CBS poll, all voter reaction points to Donald Trump having the stronger performance because he's actually reaching them in the opportunities he takes to talk about jobs, the economy, security, and other things that they care about, not the classic debates.
MARTHA MACCALLUM (HOST): I mean, it's fascinating to see these numbers as they continue to come in this morning. They are leaning towards Donald Trump, and by pretty large margins, in most of these viewer polls that were done. Brad, what do you make of it?
BRAD WOODHOUSE: I think it's just not true. You look at the CNN poll. The CNN poll declared her the winner --
MACCALLUM: That's the outlier, though, it's now appearing.
WOODHOUSE: Declared her the winner by 35 points. Public Policy Polling had a poll that said that she won the debate. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/27/16]
FoxNews.com: “Online Surveys Had Donald Trump As The Yuge Winner.” FoxNews.com cited “online surveys” and claimed Trump was “the yuge winner.” Fox noted that “online surveys are not scientific and, in many cases, supporters of either candidate can cast multiple ballots.” From FoxNews.com’s September 27 article:
If polls only included media pundits, Hillary Clinton would have won Monday’s debate by a landslide, but online surveys had Donald Trump as the yuge winner.
The Drudge Report online vote had 80 percent of respondents giving the victory to Trump, and a Time.com survey had the Republican nominee leading Clinton by 4 percentage points – 52 percent to 48 percent – after more than 1,300,000 votes were cast. CNBC and Breitbart votes also had Trump winning the event, at New York’s Hofstra University.
A Fox News online vote had Trump winning with 50 percent of respondents, Clinton at 35 percent and the other 15 percent declaring no one won.
The online surveys are not scientific and, in many cases, supporters of either candidate can cast multiple ballots. Still, the disconnect in judging Trump’s performance was reminiscent of the Republican Party primary, when pundits often said his competitors bested him while online polls put him on top. [FoxNews.com, 9/27/16]
Fox News Contributor Laura Ingraham: “Most Of The Online Polls Show That [Trump] Won Handily.” Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham cited “online polls” to claim that Trump “won handily” in the debate. From the September 27 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show:
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Nothing would make, I think, the left happier for them to believe that most people thought that Trump just didn't come across as presidential. I don't think that happened, though. I really don't. I think most of the online polls show that he won handily. Doesn't mean I think that everyone thought he came with an “A” game. But that compared to Hillary's robotic and rehearsed answers, he seemed real and authentic. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 9/27/16]
Fox’s Eric Bolling: “Trump Did Very Well In Some Online Polls, Which Aren’t Scientific.” Fox host Eric Bolling said it was “no surprise” that “the pundit class called it for Hillary” because “the left loves her, and the D.C. elites hate Trump.” Bolling added that “Trump did very well in some online polls,” even though he admitted they “aren’t scientific.” From the September 27 edition of Fox News’ The Five:
ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): Both camps thought their candidate won the debate. In a normal election cycle, there'd be a clear winner and a clear loser, but this is no normal year, and no one in their right mind would call these normal candidates. Generally the pundit class called it for Hillary. No surprise there, the left loves her, and the D.C. elites hate Trump. But Trump did very well in some online polls, which aren't scientific. CNBC has Trump winning, as does CBS, Time, and The Hill. Even Variety has Trump with the win. CNN, on the other hand, has Hillary ahead. [Fox News, The Five, 9/27/16]
Fox’s Brian Kilmeade: “The Online Polls Show [Trump] Winning An Overwhelming Margin.” Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt said it was “inappropriate” that “the mainstream media [are] declaring a winner” in the debate. Earhardt’s fellow co-host Brian Kilmeade cited “online polls” and asserted that they showed Trump won the debate by an “overwhelming margin.” From the September 28 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Now, as inappropriate as it might be, the media out there, the mainstream media, is declaring a winner in this. They're saying Hillary Clinton was the winner in the debate. Look at the coverage.
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): OK. I think a lot of people thought that it was pretty much a draw because there was no knockout punch. But the mainstream media, the left liberal press said she was the big winner.
DAVID BOSSIE: I don't know what they're watching, and we're glad that they're disconnected. Look, the polls are showing Mr. Trump is winning. The polls after the debate, they're online, they're nonscientific, we won almost every one of them. Best case for them, they had a draw. Mr. Trump showed that he was presidential. He showed the American people that he had the gravitas, that he had the knowledge base --
DOOCY: The temperament.
BOSSIE: The temperament to be president.
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Right, the PPP [Public Policy Polling] poll said that Hillary won 51-40, and the CNN poll was overwhelming, 60 to 27. The other polls, the online polls show you guys winning an overwhelming margin. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/28/16]
Some Of Fox’s Own Contributors, Editors, And Hosts Have Admitted Online Polls “Are Totally Meaningless”
Fox’s Charles Krauthammer: “The Idea That You Win Because Your Supporters Come Out And Click On The Computer More Than Others Tells You Nothing.” Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer told Bill O’Reilly that online surveys “are totally meaningless” and that “the idea that you win because your supporters come out and click on the computer more than others tells you nothing.” From the September 27 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:
BILL O'REILLY (HOST): Now, before we get to the specifics of the debate with you, were you surprised that the Time magazine snap poll and WCBS-TV snap poll, which is the CBS flagship here in New York, had Trump winning fairly substantially
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Of course not, because they are totally meaningless. These are online polls. These are not random samples. The only thing that means anything -- and even the randomly sampled polls have their problems -- but the idea that you win because your supporters come out and click on the computer more than others tells you nothing. I guarantee you that if you had a poll on who had the better hair, Trump would get the same 80 percent. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 9/27/16]
Fox’s Digital Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt: “A Survey Means Going To Look For People. These Are Contests In Which People Find The Game Themselves.”
Fox’s Brit Hume: Polls Show Trump Winning “Because All Those Are Online Polls And Thus Subject To Organized Responses. Not Random Samples.”
Fox News Contributor Guy Benson: “Difference Is Scientific, Representative Random Sample Vs. Online Polls, Which Are Worthless.”
Business Insider: “A Fox News Executive Sent A Memo” To Producers Saying That “Online Polls ‘Do Not Meet Our Editorial Standards.’” According to Business Insider, “Dana Blanton, vice president of public-opinion research at Fox News” sent a memo to Fox television producers and the politics team “that ‘online 'polls' like the one on Drudge, Time, etc. where people can opt-in or self-select … are really just for fun.’" The memo reportedly noted that “users who participate in such polls must have internet access, be online at the time of the poll, be fans of the website in question, and self-select to participate.” From Business Insider’s September 28 article:
A Fox News executive sent a memo Tuesday afternoon reminding television producers and the politics team that unscientific online polls "do not meet our editorial standards."
Dana Blanton, vice president of public-opinion research at Fox News, explained in the memo obtained by Business Insider that "online 'polls' like the one on Drudge, Time, etc. where people can opt-in or self-select … are really just for fun."
"As most of the publications themselves clearly state, the sample obviously can’t be representative of the electorate because they only reflect the views of those Internet users who have chosen to participate," Blanton wrote.
As the Fox News executive pointed out, users who participate in such polls must have internet access, be online at the time of the poll, be fans of the website in question, and self-select to participate.
"Another problem — we know some campaigns/groups of supporters encourage people to vote in online polls and flood the results," she wrote. "These quickie click items do not meet our editorial standards."
At least three Fox News hosts cited the online polls in the hours following Monday's presidential debate to suggest Donald Trump emerged as the winner of the political showdown. [Business Insider, 9/28/16]
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- Eric Bolling, Laura Ingraham, Charles Krauthammer, Guy Benson, Brit Hume, Chris Stirewalt, Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, Martha MacCallum, Monica Crowley, Donald Trump
- FoxNews.com, FOX & Friends, The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, America's Newsroom, The Week
- 2016 Elections