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CNN, "Quick Vote", and Media Blurring by Dana Williams


Every day the CNN webpage has a "Quick Vote" on a current event issue. Although many could be arguably not "current events", but rather irrelevant questions (such as O.J. Simpson, Elian Gonzalez, JFK Jr., and other media blather), I documented some of the more appallingly lop-sided questions and answering options from May 1999 to December 1999. Followed by each question is a short analysis explaining why it is lop-sided, if it isn't already immediately apparent.

CNN, May 25, 1999

Should the U.S. be fearful of a growing Chinese nuclear capability?

- Yes
- Not yet

This isn't even subtle; there is no "no" option... It makes it seem as though even if some are not yet fearful of the Chinese they'll have to be in the future. Is this fear-mongering? Doesn't this sound like Cold War rhetoric? Isn't it a slight bit racist in its assumptions?

CNN, August 5, 1999

The $792 billion Republican tax cut plan is:

- A well-deserved break for taxpayers
- A risky political gamble
- A non-issue, since it faces a near-certain veto

There is no "poor idea" option. There is no indication that cutting taxes will subsequently mean the dismantling of social programs-- which mainly benefit the working poor.

CNN, August 22, 1999

Is welfare reform in the U.S. a success?

- Yes
- No
- Too soon to tell

A success at what it was intended to do, throw people back into poverty? It's too generic of a question. Without clarifying what "success" means this question is useless.

CNN, September 17, 1999

Do you use dietary supplements and/or herbal therapies?

- Yes; I know they help me
- No; I'm wary of their safety

Isn't it possible to not use them simply because you don't want to, regardless of their safety? Another option is needed. In a consumer-driven society it is automatically assumed that if things are safe or if they work we MUST consume them. Why must this be the assumption upon which the question is based?

CNN, September 20, 1999

Can nuclear power be produced safely?

- Yes, technology exists to solve its problems
- No, there will always be problems

How about the problems not caused by its production, but by its disposal? This is glossed over as not relevant. It assumes that all production is done in a vacuum, without any other forseeable effects springing from that production.

CNN, October 15, 1999

Has Wall Street hit bottom yet?

- Not even close
- Almost
- Looking up now

Huh? There isn't a "yes". This is trying to coerce people to think things'll "improve". A question like this could scarcely be more slanted.

CNN, November 23, 1999

A Presbyterian Church court's decision to allow same-sex unions as long as they aren't called 'marriages' is:

- the right decision
- the wrong decision
- just semantics

There is no connotation as to why they would agree or disagree if they don't like same-sex unions at all, if they don't like them, but prefer not calling them marriages, or if they agree with the unions, but disagree with not calling them marriages. Intentionally fuzzy and determines absolutely nothing. There should be another layer to this question for people who agree with the core of what the Church did, but not with how they decided to label the result.

CNN, Dec 4th, 1999

Who is mostly to blame for the deadlock of the WTO conference?

- Demonstrators
- Large nations and their demands
- Small nations and their demands
- All share equal blame

Where is "multi-national corporations" on this list? And the countries which cater to them? Where is the WTO itself? By terming it "blame" it automatically conjuers up a negative connotation, whereas many would think that deadlock in an institution such as the WTO would not be something that "blame" would be applied to, but "praise".

CNN, December 14, 1999

What type of sex education should schools provide teen-agers?

- None
- Emphasize abstinence only
- Abstinence plus birth control measures

What about "birth control only"? That would seem like a logical choice since it is one of the other options along with "abstinence only". It is high school, and pregnancy isn't a good thing to have happen at that time, but this seems ridiculous and ignores many realities, not to mention the notion of "free will".