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Media Accountability Survey: So That’s How You Create Fake News

media accountability survy
Dennis D McDonald

One way to create fake news is to gather data in a way that is deliberately biased, says Dennis D. McDonald. Enter: Trump’s new “media accountability survey.”

aNewDomain dennis d. mcdonald kallstadt— There are many ways to manipulate the flow of data to the public. One approach, perhaps the simplest, is to remove data files from public access by simply deleting pages of links to data files from government agency public facing portal websites.

The data files may still be sitting on a server somewhere but, unless the public user has good hacking skills, the files will be invisible.

A second and more effective approach is to cut off the collection of data that were previously made available to the public. In that case the data will no longer exist.

A third approach to controlling the flow data to the public is to gather data, but to do so in a way that is deliberately biased or unscientific.

An example of this perhaps most insidious form of data access control is the so-called “media accountability survey” released by Trump campaign supporters following Trump’s February 16 news conference.

trump campaign survey trump surveyThis is one of the most biased, poorly designed, and deliberately misleading questionnaires I’ve ever seen.

Its only purpose, I conclude, is to gather “alternative facts” from a self-selected population of respondents so the Trump administration or its supporters can justify new restrictions on government information and transparency.

Anyone inside or outside the government who takes the results of this poorly designed survey seriously should not be trusted.
Seeing surveys like this makes my blood boil. I spent almost a decade early in my career designing and managing statistical surveys and research projects and many involved questionnaire development and wording challenges.

The use of deliberately vague and confusing terms leads to confusing and meaningless data, and failure to control the survey population has similar negative  impacts. Trump’s campaign is not the first to mis-use surveys like this, of course, but this survey is so aggressively designed to generate biased results that it is totally worthless.

Had I received anything like this from Hillary Clinton I would have tossed it directly into the garbage.

There is one good thing about the survey. Unlike many of the telephone surveys I receive on my office landline, the sponsor of the survey is clearly identified. So at least we know who is responsible:

Paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.

We have been warned.

For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald

 

 

About the author

Dennis D McDonald

Dennis D McDonald

Dennis D. McDonald is an independent consultant based in Alexandria Virginia. His interests include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and technology adoption. Clients have included the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, National Academy of Engineering, the World Bank, University Research Co., Catalyst Rx, the National Library of Medicine and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.