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Monday, 22 March 2010
Haaretz
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Haaretz fiddled with Obama poll'

22/03/2010

Pollster says paper used figures misleadingly to make Obama look good.

Haaretz misled readers to give the impression that an overwhelming majority of Israelis see US President Barack Obama as “fair and friendly” toward the country, the newspaper’s pollster, Tel Aviv University professor Camil Fuchs, said on Sunday.

Both the English and Hebrew editions of Friday’s Haaretz led with the headline “Poll: Most Israelis see Obama as fair, friendly toward Israel.”

The English edition elaborated near a picture of Obama that “69% say Obama is fair and friendly.”

The story itself gives no numbers, but the lead says “A sweeping majority of Israelis think his treatment of this country is friendly and fair.”

The English edition contains no graphic distributing the actual numbers, either online or in print.

The print and online versions of the newspaper’s Hebrew edition included a graphic indicating that just 18 percent of respondents considered Obama “friendly” toward Israel, 3 percentage points fewer than the 21% who called the president “hostile” to the Jewish state.

Ten percent did not know, and 51% defined Obama’s approach to Israel using the Hebrew word “inyani,” which can be translated as “matter-of-fact” or “businesslike,” but not as fair.

Fuchs, who chairs Tel Aviv University’s statistics department, said he received many reactions from people around the world who were surprised by the poll’s headline. He distanced himself from the headline and criticized the way his poll was presented.

“What can I do? Only the editor writes the headlines,” Fuchs said.

“When they write the number 69 together, it is correct but misleading. They could just as easily have combined the hostile and inyani categories and gotten a different large number.”

Fuchs was disturbed to hear that the English edition did not include the full distribution of the numbers. He also disagreed with the translation of the word “inyani.”

When told it had been translated as “fair,” he responded: “I definitely would not have translated it as fair. They must have a problem with English.”

The story has been removed from Haaretz’s online print edition archive. An edition of the story that remains online has been rewritten with no reference to the issue in the original headline. It instead focuses on the 27% of respondents who said Obama is anti-Semitic.

A Likud source called the original Haaretz headline a “trick intended to convince the public to like Obama more and Netanyahu less.”

Polls taken over the past week by the Geocartographic Institute for Channel 2’s Meet the Press program and by the Dahaf Institute for Yediot Aharonot found that a majority of the Israeli public blamed the American administration for the crisis in US-Israel relations.

Other polls sponsored by The Jerusalem Post and the Hebrew University’s Truman Institute have found that Israelis see Obama as significantly more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel.

Haaretz English Edition editor Charlotte Halle responded that “Haaretz published a fair and accurate representation of the survey conducted by Prof. Camil Fuchs at the request of Haaretz. Any attempt to claim otherwise by another newspaper is false.”    

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Posted on 03/22/2010 9:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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