U.S. Press Falsely Claims Honduran Plurality for Coup

Did a CID-Gallup poll last week indicate that a plurality of Hondurans support the military coup against democratically elected President Zelaya? Yes, according to the Washington Post [July 9], the Wall Street Journal [July 10], the Christian Science Monitor [July 11], and Reuters [July 9], which all reported that the poll showed 41% in favor of the coup, with only 28% opposed.

But in fact the poll showed that 46% - a plurality - were *opposed* to the coup, according to the New York Times[July 10], the Associated Press [July 11] - and the president of CID-Gallup, in an interview with Voice of America on July 9.

As of this writing - Sunday evening, 5:30 pm Eastern time - none of the outlets which reported the poll incorrectly had corrected their earlier, inaccurate, reports. [UPDATE 7/15: The Journal and the Monitor have now responded to the criticism.]

In reporting the poll incorrectly, the Post, the Journal, the Monitor, and Reuters gave the impression that more Hondurans supported the coup than opposed it, suggesting that this meant trouble for the international coalition pressing for the restoration of President Zelaya - which includes Costa Rican President Arias and Organization of American States Secretary-General Insulza, as well as the Obama Administration.

Of course, even if a poll had showed a plurality in favor of the coup, that would not legitimize the coup. But the opinion of the population, even if difficult to discern in the repression following the coup, is without question a key fact in understanding the situation. To misreport such a key fact is to substantially misinform. To fail to correct such a mistake compounds the error.

The incorrect report of the poll appears to have originated in the Honduran La Prensa. But the U.S. press should have checked before simply repeating what was in La Prensa, particularly on such an important fact, particularly because the result was counterintuitive.

But perhaps the result was not counterintuitive for these press outlets, and that may suggest a deeper problem - the U.S. press is out of touch with the majority of the population in Honduras, and therefore credulous to results which misreport Honduran public opinion as being much more similar than it is to the opinions of Honduran elites.

To ask for corrections, you can contact the Washington Post here; the Christian Science Monitor here ; and the Wall Street Journal here.

The Hunduran military have been the "contract" assassins for the US military for many years. Time to put a stop to this. Why is that the US are still funding the military n Honduras?> Have the US n ot done enough damage in the use of Honduras to have the first democracy in all of Latin American -- Guatemala overthrown by the thugs from Honduras? Have not seen enough damage had done to the election in Nicaragua where Violeta Chomorro were funded by the US and backed in the use of Iran Contra fiascoe by both Bush and Reagan ? Time to stop this American falsely fabricated of red fear or commie fear in Central America -- and the abuse by the American Military Industrial Complex, by me it is just an extension of the banality of the Rothschilds and their war for profit scheme and scam.

Here's the comment I submitted on the CSM's website. The instructions for submitting comments say that lengthy comments may not be posted, so I publish it here:

I give Sara Miller Llana credit for responding and linking to the criticism and to good information. But demerits to the CSM for not linking the original article to this post - the original article still stands without any link to this new information, or any other indication that there might be something inaccurate or misleading about it - and demerits to Sara Miller Llana for conveniently sliding over some key points in her response.

Where did the CSM get its information in the first place? It wasn't from CID-Gallup, as her post makes clear. Presumably, the CSM got it from La Prensa - or from someone else who got it from La Prensa - without checking with CID-Gallup, even though La Prensa is known to be a pro-coup newspaper, which has a history of publishing bad information, even though it was clearly possible to get other information, since the NYT, AP, and VOA did. Note that the CSM piece is dated July 11, the VOA piece July 9, the NYT piece July 10, and the AP piece July 11.

Journalists aren't supposed to rely solely on a secondary source in this way, even if the secondary source isn't suspect - which it was in this case. They're supposed to independently confirm.

Here's what the CSM published on July 11:

"Although Zelaya supporters have marched daily since his ouster, a
CID-Gallup poll published Thursday showed that 41 percent of Hondurans
found his ouster justifiable, compared to 28 percent who oppose the
coup."

Note the switch. The actual question, according to the blog source linked here, was whether Zelaya's actions justified his removal from office.

If the CSM had written:

"Although Zelaya supporters have marched daily since his ouster, a
CID-Gallup poll published Thursday showed that 41 percent of Hondurans
found his ouster justifiable, compared to 28 percent who disagreed
that his ouster was justifiable."

there would be a case for the argument offered here, although the paragraph would still have been highly misleading, since in the context of the paragraph the typical reader would have understood the question in the context of the actual events, rather than the hypothetical question (mere "removal from office" is not what took place.) But the CSM used the word coup, and that clearly describes the actual events that took place, which were opposed by 46%, not 28%. So the CSM's current justification of its earlier report is simply not accurate. Where did the phrase "oppose the coup" in the July 11 CSM piece come from? Not from CID-Gallup.

I didn't accuse the CSM of publishing inaccurate figures "for ideological gain" - perhaps someone else did. I wrote: "perhaps the result was not counterintuitive for these press outlets, and that may suggest a deeper problem - the U.S. press is out of touch with the majority of the population in Honduras, and therefore credulous to results which misreport Honduran public opinion as being much more similar than it is to the opinions of Honduran elites." Arguably, "U.S. press" was too broad a brush, since the NYT got it right. Indeed, Ginger Thompson of the New York Times had different information, and published a day earlier. How did she get it?

Good job in not getting distracted by their re-wording of your positions, Naiman. I appreciate it how you stick to the actual language of their original articles, and the initial formulation of your own critique. Don't accept their paraphrase! Press bias loves to hide in sloppy paraphrase and loose numbers.

The Wall Street Journal has response was not as much as expected. Looks kinda biased and diplomatic.

J Norman

It is a shame to falsely accused Honduran plurality for coup. I don't think it's necessary to have prejudice on them. I hope the government can restore their name back.

Btw, I just heard that the Honduran leader is going to hold a convention to discuss about this problem. I hope nothing's gonna happen. Let's cross our finger.

Journalists aren't supposed to rely solely on a secondary source in this way, even if the secondary source isn't suspect - which it was in this case. They're supposed to independently confirm.

Vi ringrazio, considero che quello che ho letto sia ottimo

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