I interviewed John Zogby about 1:00 Pacific today, but he hung up on me after objecting to my questions. Among the questions: Did he travel to Iraq to oversee the polling? (No.) Would he tell me who had overseen the polling? (Information International of Beirut.) Would he tell me who at Information International? (No.) What did he pay the survey takers? (He wouldn’t say). Had he been invited by the someone in the American military to brief on results? (Yes.) Who was that? (He wouldn’t say.)
Why hadn’t he released the demographics? (He had, he said. I disagreed. He hung up.)
I’ll play the interview a few times. In fairness, his office had sent the demographics info (which had not been released yesterday and still isn’t on the web) but did so in a PDF file that we were only able to read after downloading a new version of Adobe. When we were talking, we didn’t have the demographics. Had Zogby simply told me the demographics were now out after previously being withheld, that would have been fine. Radioblogger will post the transcript, the questions (which I did have and which I was about to get into with him when he hung up) and the survey questions and results later today.
The “poll” is quite obviously crap when one sees the questions, and Zogby’s refusal to answer basic questions that do not go to security underscores his defensiveness. The survey instrument is shot through with absurd choices while missing obvious questions, such as “How important is success of this mission?” and “Describe your morale?” It would have been interesting to ask if the troops have heard of Cindy Shaheen, or their opinion of the antiwar activists, though of course an antiwar activist paid for this circus.
I doubt it would be appropriate to ask for opinions on the president or Secretary Rumsfeld, but given that Zogby didn’t ask for permission from the Pentagon, he might want to answer that down the line.
In the interview Zogby complains that his PR director told my producer he wouldn’t discuss some things on air. Fine. I didn’t ask any of those things, like base location or identity or methods of the “poll” takers.
But Zogby flew off the handle at one point exclaiming he was a patriot, a fact with which I don’t disagree and haven’t raised.
I think he’s a shameless self-promoting pretend pollster, that’s all.
And I think the smoke about “security” is just that. And refusing to tell me which military man wanted a briefing was the giveaway.
You can trust John Zogby as much as this poll. Which means, not at all.
Criticism of Zogby is not new, nor confined to the center-right. See Chris Mooney’s “The Creative Polls of John Zogby,” from the February 1, 2003 American Prospect.
“The results are startling,” Zogby said. “I’m not the first person to use the term ‘Vietnam,’ but it does suggest somewhat of a morale issue – certainly a disagreement.”
Over at Zogby.com, the non-pollster is busy touting all the favorable stories on his non-poll poll, including the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristoff’s interpretation of the non-poll’s non-data:
Kristof calls the survey of soldiers ‘one more bit of evidence that our grim stay-the-course policy in Iraq has failed. Even the American troops on the ground don’t buy into it ‘” and having administration officials pontificate from the safety of Washington about the need for ordinary soldiers to stay the course further erodes military morale.’
BTW: Despite Zogby’s shouted assertion that the demographics had been released, they are still not easily found on his website. Yes, he sent them to me in a not-easily read PDF, but why not make them easily available for the public to see? Reminder: The questions and some demographics (no cross-tabs) are up at Radioblogger.com)
UPDATE: More from Democracy Project.