10.2.08 That Ridiculous PBS Sarah Palin Poll

I’m flabbergasted by the flood of emails, more on a single topic than I have ever, ever received before.  The messages come from folks I rarely (or never) hear from.  They come from correspondents whom I know, otherwise, to be sophisticated, skeptical political analysts.  There is an intense urgency in the call to action, a breathless foreboding of catastrophe if I don’t join the cause.

What could be the threat behind this call to arms?  Global warming?  The impending death of baby seals?  Springing some unjustly imprisoned peace activists?  Sending a check to Barack Obama?

No.  It’s to win an absolute meaningless contest of wills on PBS’s website, a “poll” asking the following question:

Do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States?

From September 5 until September 22, site visitors were allowed to vote as often as they liked, precipitating a frenzy of viral emails from the left and right, as they tried to outdo each other in stuffing the ballot box.  (Since the 22nd, visitors are limited to one vote per computer.)           

Most of the emails I received expressed horror that the vote had been tied for a while and that only the actions of Good Citizens had pushed the tally back toward a Zone of Decency.

What I don’t get is why otherwise smart or lazy people have been driven to action by this.  The “poll” is clearly not scientific.  Even if a site visitor could only vote once, the participants are self selected.  And even if Sarah Palin were to score a resounding victory, what dire outcome would this produce for the World as We Know It?

Hence, my question to all you frenzied viral email participants:  Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?  Isn’t there some other cause that might drive you to contact your friends, family, and distant acquaintances?  (Hint: you might try contacting them to get involved with the real election.)

As for why this silly exercise was launched at all, PBS explains it best:

And let’s keep in mind the purpose of these weekly polls.  They invite people who might not ordinarily come to our site to participate.

Yes, folks, this whole things is a marketing gimmick, meant to drive traffic to PBS’s website.  Your contributions and tax dollars at work!

©2008 Keith Berner

Explore posts in the same categories: Media/Journalism

One Comment on “10.2.08 That Ridiculous PBS Sarah Palin Poll”

  1. Leon Morse Says:

    Indeed. If there is one thing I think is irresponsible by media outlets, it is taking online polls. Although I am not sure anyone really believes them, just publishing results tarnishes the image (in my mind, anyway) of credibility.

    At the end of the day, who really cares what percentage of Lou Dobbs’ viewers think he is right? It keeps people tuned in for 15 minutes. It really is a marketing gimmick, and one best left to sportscasts or American Idol.


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