From today's Denver Post...
Untruths on Iraq widely held
60% in U.S. believe 1 of 3 errors, poll says
By Frank Davies Knight Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON - A majority of Americans have held at least one of three mistaken impressions about the U.S.-led war in Iraq, according to a study released Thursday.
The three common mistaken impressions are that:
U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
There's clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists.
People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.- led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.
Overall, 60 percent of Americans held at least one of those views in polls reported between January and September by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, based at the University of Maryland in College Park, and the polling firm Knowledge Networks, based in Menlo Park, Calif.
"While we cannot assert that these misperceptions created the support for going to war with Iraq, it does appear likely that support for the war would be substantially lower if fewer members of the public had these misperceptions," said Steven Kull, who directs Maryland's program.
In fact, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.
U.S. intelligence has found no clear evidence that Hussein was working closely with al-Qaeda or was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
PIPA's seven polls, which included 9,611 respondents, had a margin of error from 2 to 3.5 percentage points.
The analysis released Thursday also correlated the misperceptions with the primary news source of the mistaken respondents. For example, <span style='color:red'>80 percent of those who said they relied on Fox News and 71 percent of those who said they relied on CBS believed at least one of the three misperceptions.
The comparable figures were 47 percent for those who said they relied most on newspapers and magazines and 23 percent for those who said they relied on PBS or National Public Radio.
The reasons for the misperceptions are numerous, Kull and other analysts said.
They noted that the Bush administration had misstated or exaggerated some of the intelligence findings, with Bush himself saying in May: "We found the weapons of mass destruction and we'll find more as time goes by."
The Bush administration has also been a factor in persistent confusion.
Last month, for example, Bush said there was no evidence that Hussein was involved in the Sept. 11 attack after Vice President Dick Cheney suggested a link. Cheney, in a "Meet the Press" interview, had described Iraq as "the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."
Although I would never accuse any of my fellow board members of being so one dimensional as to only rely on a single news source, I do know that Fox News is a favorite of some (you know who you are). Any comments on how a worldwide news organization can seemingly foster such a gross misperception of reality?