70% believe Saddam responsible for…

70% believe Saddam responsible for 9/11. Oh really?

A Washington Post poll saying 70% of Americans believe Saddam had a role in 9/11 has gotten huge press.

Let’s examine this. From the Washington Post itself, quoted in Yahoo. Boldface added.

This is the lead paragraph, which media everywhere quoted.

Nearing the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, seven in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this.

Now let’s mosey on down to the final paragraph and there, buried at the bottom is:

The Post poll, conducted Aug. 7-11, found that 62 percent of Democrats, 80 percent of Republicans and 67 percent of independents suspected a link between Hussein and 9/11.

The top paragraph, which received huge circulation, say people “believe“. The bottom paragraph says they “suspected“.

The difference between “believe” and “suspect” is a gaping chasm. This is deceptive journalism, plain and simple.

But wait, there’s more!

After 15 minutes searching the Washington Post archives, I could find no explanation of the polling techniques used, how the questions were phrased, how many people were questioned, who paid for it, or the margin of error – information which is commonly made available for polls.

Plus the poll was taken Aug 7-11. However the results were just released – right in time for the anniversary of 9/11. How convenient.

A friend says the Washington Post is “the company newspaper in a company town”. He may well be correct. This seems less a genuine poll than a PR push for Bush.