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Another biased WBEN poll on the NY marriage vote

Marriage equality

By Adam Bink

Okay, one poll is one thing, but two polls is an agenda.

Last week, I wrote about the News 930 WBEN poll (WBEN is a popular radio station back home in Western New York) providing four choices opposing the marriage bill and one supporting it:


Despite this, by the time everyone here and everywhere else was done voting, the one choice supporting equality was beating the other four combined with over 70% of the vote.

Today, WBEN has this new poll up:

Screen shot 2011-06-28 at 10.49.45 AM

This is really ridiculous. Again, I realize these things aren’t scientific, but they aren’t fair either. “What bothers you most” sets the tone from the start, implying that Grisanti acted incorrectly in some way, instead of something like “How would you rate Mark Grisanti’s handling of the same-sex marriage issue?” Any approval poll should have neutral language such as “How would you rate President Obama’s handling of x issue?”

Second, we again have two choices against one instead of a neutral scale. And third, since when did Mark Grisanti refuse to “discuss the issue prior to the vote?”

Here’s a piece from the Buffalo News quoting Grisanti on June 14th discussing his wrestling with the issue and his religious beliefs. Here’s another piece from June 19th where he mentions he will wait to see what changes are made in the bill with respect to religious exemptions. Here’s Sen. Grisanti’s chief of staff discussing his boss’ views. Here’s a piece even documenting how Grisanti sat down with gay and lesbian community leaders in March to discuss the issue. Perhaps WBEN is confusing “refused to state his position” with “refusing to discuss”, but the voting choice is just misleading at best, factually inaccurate at worst.

The reason this matters is because poll results like these get reported on-air, mentioned by word-of-mouth, and noted by other news sources, which influences opinion. As of this post, “they way he voted” is winning with 56% of the vote. The impression here is that Grisanti did something wrong. Let’s correct the record.

The poll can be found here, and you can once again drop station manager Tim Wenger a line. You might tell him to stop running (and fix) poorly worded, biased polls. You can also tweet @NewsRadio930.

Update: Comment of the day, IMHO, from Greg:

Prop8TrialTracker should add its own poll:

What bothers you most about WBEN’s slanted polls? (Please choose one)

1. Their loaded questions
2. Their innuendo and anti-equality bias
3. The set of answers stacked in favor of an anti-gay mindset


  • 1. Ғĕłỹҳ  |  June 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

    WBEN polls are an excellent example of bias infused ignorance.

    Option #1. I agree (2364 votes 100%)

    There you go. Now we have an equally valid, accurate and honest poll to promote on-air and by word of mouth.

    I spend much of my time improving the quality of life for those around me. It is not only a hobby but it is my profession. I have seriously considered what it would take to achieve a world fairly near some utopian ideal. But whenever I wonder why we haven't gotten there, I end up seeing fruitlessly wasted effort like this and realize how powerful and potent are ignorance and apathy… sigh.

  • 2. Steve  |  June 28, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Video + transcript:

  • 3. Greg  |  June 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Prop8TrialTracker should add its own poll:

    What bothers you most about WBEN's slanted polls? (Please choose one)

    1. Their loaded questions
    2. Their innuendo and anti-equality bias
    3. The set of answers stacked in favor of an anti-gay mindset

  • 4. Maggie4NoH8  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Adam – I dropped the station manager, Tim Wenger the following note (as you suggested):

    I get that online polls aren't scientific, and aren't intended to be… It's one thing to have a poll skewed based upon your demographics/listeners, but I really have to take issue with your latest online poll!

    "What bothers you most about how Mark Grisanti handled the gay marriage issue?" IMPLIES he handled it WRONGLY. ARE YOU KIDDING ME????

    The man obviously spent a tremendous amount of time with this issue and struggled with his decision! He discussed the issue for months beforehand (there are newspaper articles, online articles, etc documenting this) with both sides.

    Mark Grisanti handled the issue EXACTLY the way all adults, and especially elected officials, should handle issues!

    1)He researched the question at hand – speaking with proponents, opponents, experts, constituents, peers, colleagues, etc – and got the facts
    2)Made and acted upon his decision based on facts and reality, despite his personal feelings and/or opinion about the matter

    Did you even listen to Senator Grisanti’s explanation on the floor of his vote? To paraphrase – as a Catholic, I am opposed to gay marriage, as an attorney and as an elected representative of my district, I cannot be opposed.

    In other words, he did his due diligence and made a rational decision based upon that due diligence!

    This is a man of TRUE character and public service. Despite where you fall on the gay marriage issue, show some respect for the man!

    How about this poll:

    How do you rate Mark Grisanti’s performance on the gay marriage issue:

    1)Positively – I think he took a principled and thoughtful approach to his decision to vote Yes, but disagree
    2)Positively – I appreciate the difficult decision he made, and support both him and gay marriage
    3)Negatively – I don’t like gay marriage and I don’t like the fact he separated his faith from his duty as an elected official
    4)Negatively – he campaigned as against gay marriage, and no amount of research, facts, lobbying, discussion or “struggling with an issue” should have changed his position

    AND, I voted (see, I am participating in my own recovery!) "I have no problem…."

  • 5. Sheryl_Carver  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

    OT – comment problems


    I saw this in the "recent comments" column & tried to find your comment in the "main" comments section. Waited until the page had completely loaded, but couldn't find it. The time stamp in the "recents" column indicates it had been made 12 minutes ago.

    Here's what's in the column:
    The last comments for
    Another biased WBEN poll on the NY marriage vote
    Adam Bink
    This comment made my day.

  • 6. Adam Bink  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Very, very nicely done, Maggie. I read it through several times.

  • 7. Adam Bink  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I wouldn't exactly say they are right-wing, just that their demographic skews towards older folks, which tend to be more conservative on this issue. Still worthy of attention, I would argue.

  • 8. Adam Bink  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Comment of the day!

  • 9. Adam Bink  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Yes- funky. Thanks!

  • 10. Go for the money  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:54 am

    It would be especially powerful to contact the Ross Eye Institute — whose logo is literally beyond the poll — and indicate that you are very offended by the poll’s slant, and that you are boycotting Ross Eye Institute, and encouraging others to do the same.

    Trust me, if advertisers are getting calls, and being told they are being boycotted, THAT will get a station manager’s attention. Feel free to contact the station manager, but if you have time for just one contact, CONTACT THE ADVERTISER.

  • 11. WiseOwl  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I went to the radio station site. There is a contact menu and you can send an email. I did, and told them what I thought of their slanted polls. I also noticed Rush Limbaugh was speaking at the time, so we know where that station stands. Despite the fact that the battle is over, they continue to push the point. Fucking morons.

  • 12. Sheryl_Carver  |  June 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Thanks, Ann; thought maybe it was just my computer/OS/browser.

    ID's emailed comments used to include the comment being replied to. That is no longer happening, and hasn't for at least a couple of days.

    And Adam, just to be clear, I am NOT blaming you or your tech help for any of this. Just want to keep you all informed so you can work with ID to get these things (hopefully) resolved.

    I do wonder if ID promised or implied that their platform was more robust than it really is. Back when I worked for a major technology company, our division was sold a software platform upon which we were supposed to build a new, major product. Turns out, once we had it & were running into all kinds of problems with functionality, capacity & speed, some of our engineers learned from their engineers that they (the engineers) were rather shocked by the sale. When sold, their software was still in development & NOT ready to be released as a product.

    Whatever our situation with ID, I sure hope they can get things fixed. I do like it when it works; it just doesn't seem to do so consistently, or else when they get one thing fixed, another breaks. (Which, when I was in engineering, usually meant either a poor design or the software really wasn't ready to be released.)

  • 13. Sam_Handwich  |  June 28, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Daytime talk radio is geared toward angry, white middle aged males gagging down crappy baloney sandwiches in their trucks during lunch hour as they desperately search for someone – anyone – to blame for their miserable lives. In the 90's the obvious culprit was Hillary Clinton. In 2002 it was Saddam's WMD and iron-clad ties to al Qaeda. And today it's TEH GAYs turn to take the rap.

  • 14. Sheryl_Carver  |  June 28, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Comment issues cont:

    Also, at one time I think clicking on the "Go To Comment" link in an emailed comment would take me directly to that comment on P8TT, even though that wasn't true if I clicked on the same comment in the "Recent Comments" column on the P8TT page.

    Now, neither works correctly. Both take me to the top of whichever post the comment is under.

    Thanks to you, Adam, & your team for all your continued work on this. I'm sure it's even more frustrating for you than it is for us.

  • 15. Ann S.  |  June 28, 2011 at 11:19 am

    [youtube MmYP0oK4dVM&feature=player_embedded youtube]

    George Takei on NY marriage equality and on Prop 8 (which he confidently predicts will be gone "by the end of the year". Would that it were so, George.

  • 16. Adam Bink  |  June 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks — the latter isn't fixable until IntenseDebate updates its code, but we're aware of it. The former I'll pass along to the tech team.

  • 17. Ann S.  |  June 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Adam, thank you for being responsive to this and to the many other comments you've been replying to. I appreciate it very much.

  • 18. Sheryl_Carver  |  June 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks for keeping us updated, Adam.

  • 19. Carpool_Cookie  |  June 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I wonder is there would be a public outcry over a poll asking "What bothers you most about black people?"

  • 20. Sam_Handwich  |  June 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Sam_Handwich POLL of the DAY
    Powered by Miracle Whip

    What bothers you most about how New York's Roman Catholic leaders handled the gay marriage issue?

    O The way they take all their orders from an entity foreign to our country
    O The endless hysterics, lies and general fear-mongering that served as the basis for their message
    O The funny hats they wear
    O All of the above
    O I'm "OK" with New York's Roman Catholic leaders handling of the gay marriage issue

    [VOTE] View results

  • 21. Joe  |  June 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I think Mark realized one thing: Marriage equality is an inevitability. One day marriage was going to be legal in New York, either by judicial, legislative, or public action. The winds are just shifting that way. So either people who are opposed to it can be children and yell "no no no no no no" and let the world go by without them and watch it be implemented without any input, or they can pull on their big boy pants and sit at the table and discuss how we can move forward together, including things like the religious exemptions, which are alone important issues to have.

    Either you're at the table or you're on the menu.

  • 22. Rhie  |  June 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    No, probably not.

    Seriously. Racism is still a Big Issue in this country. The media has slid backward in their handling of it. Birtherism = Racism, and 1/4 of the country agrees with the the birther agenda.

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