Men Lie, Women Lie, and Numbers Fudge The Truth


Oh sweet Lord. It’s poll season.

One day, it’s Donald Trump blazing to the top of the charts. The next, Hillary Clinton is beating his doors down, with Bernie Sanders in “hot” pursuit. Yeah, I could go on and on about all of the polls and surveys and caucuses and primaries and everything that’s so right or wrong with our political system, but that’s not of primary importance around here…no pun intended.

What is important is that super interesting poll published by the Washington Post relating to that dastardly Washington NFL Football Team. You saw it. You heard about it. The headline was blasted everywhere, clear as day:

Washington Post Poll Finds Redskins Name Doesn’t Offend 9 in 10 Native Americans.

Oh the collective sigh/groan/outrage that came from that itty bitty news type. Strike up the band!

The New York Times weighed in – quite eloquently, naturally.

The Liberal media was certainly to blame…as always.

And, of course, one Daniel “Johnny Rocket” Snyder was “gratified”.

Look, we could debate the relative racism of the Washington Football Club’s moniker until the cows come home, go to sleep, wake up, get milked, head out to pasture, hang out, chill, and come back home again. We can even throw in the arguments about Dan Snyder’s purely bullheaded stubbornness when it comes to admitting he’s wrong about, oh, anything. But what I want to get across is a reminder that professionals can make numbers look like whatever they want. It’s exactly what they’re hired to do.

Exhibit A.

The WaPo headline looks damning. It’s the evidence we’ve all been waiting to see to put this topic to bed. But look deeper: the poll was a sample of 504 randomly selected Native American adults. 504. Now, I know society may not know Native Americans exist, but let’s put that number into perspective, shall we?

504, out of roughly 2.9 million. I don’t know about you but that seems pretty representative to me, said no one ever.

And Dan Snyder’s response to this random survey of about 2 Applebee’s and a Chili’s worth of Native Americans? Oh, that’s the best part:

The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect, and pride. Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.

Overwhelming support? In a poll of roughly 0.017% of the Native population in the U.S., about 453 people said that the name didn’t bother them. Overwhelming!

In reality, the Washington Post did exactly what they wanted to do: start a conversation, and get some people to read their story. But wouldn’t it be so much more helpful if they simply said “Washington Post Poll Finds Redskins Name Doesn’t Offend 9 in 10 Native Americans Surveyed“!? Just one word makes all the difference in the world. I mean, I know my response to a question doesn’t speak for all Black people, despite what others may think (Many thanks to the great University of Michigan for reinforcing that lesson in me). So why should we allow the same to slide for clickbait purposes from one of the paragons of journalistic integrity in this country? Just asking.

Personally, I believe the conversation is completely misaligned and needs to focus on the 9% of surveyed citizens who found the name offensive, and force us to look at why we justify using loaded nomenclature and imagery purposely in spite of them. But that’s neither here nor there. I just urge in this season of the poll that everyone takes the time to look into the numbers!

Believe it or not, basing your outrage – or “gratitude” – on the responses of a literal handful of Americans chosen at random to do phone surveys is actually kinda…well, crazy.