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On September 9, 2007 CBS News and the New York Times released a 1035 sample poll in which the interviews took place between September 4th and the 8th.

I was struck by this particular response:

33% of Americans think that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th attacks on the United States, while 58% say he was not. These numbers haven’t changed much over the last two years.


Now –  Yes 33% No 58%

9/2006 –  Yes 31% No 57%

10/2005 – Yes 33% No 55%

4/2003 –  Yes 53% No 38%

Still 33% after six years?

Where on earth did people get this stuff?

It could have been the marketing.

….That September the attempt to sell the war began in earnest, for, as White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card had told The New York Times in an unusually candid moment, “You don’t roll out a new product in August….”

Mixed messages, perhaps? Methinks dubya doth protest too much.

September 17, 2003

….Q Mr. President, Dr. Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld both said yesterday that they have seen no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with September 11th. Yet, on Meet the Press, Sunday, the Vice President said Iraq was a geographic base for the terrorists and he also said, I don’t know, or we don’t know, when asked if there was any involvement. Your critics say that this is some effort — deliberate effort to blur the line and confuse people. How would you answer that?

THE PRESIDENT: We’ve had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th. What the Vice President said was, is that he has been involved with al Qaeda. And al Zarqawi, al Qaeda operative, was in Baghdad. He’s the guy that ordered the killing of a U.S. diplomat. He’s a man who is still running loose, involved with the poisons network, involved with Ansar al-Islam. There’s no question that Saddam Hussein had al Qaeda ties….

September 15, 2006

….Q Mr. President, you have said throughout the war in Iraq and building up to the war in Iraq that there was a relationship between Saddam Hussein and Zarqawi and al Qaeda. A Senate Intelligence Committee report a few weeks ago said there was no link, no relationship, and that the CIA knew this and issued a report last fall. And, yet, a month ago you were still saying there was a relationship. Why did you keep saying that? Why do you continue to say that? And do you still believe that?

THE PRESIDENT: The point I was making to Ken Herman’s question was that Saddam Hussein was a state sponsor of terror, and that Mr. Zarqawi was in Iraq. He had been wounded in Afghanistan, had come to Iraq for treatment. He had ordered the killing of a U.S. citizen in Jordan. I never said there was an operational relationship. I was making the point that Saddam Hussein had been declared a state sponsor of terror for a reason, and, therefore, he was dangerous.

The broader point I was saying — I was reminding people was why we removed Saddam Hussein from power. He was dangerous. I would hope people aren’t trying to rewrite the history of Saddam Hussein — all of a sudden, he becomes kind of a benevolent fellow. He’s a dangerous man. And one of the reasons he was declared a state sponsor of terror was because that’s what he was. He harbored terrorists; he paid for families of suicide bombers. Never have I said that Saddam Hussein gave orders to attack 9/11. What I did say was, after 9/11, when you see a threat, you’ve got to take it seriously. And I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein — as did Congress, as did the United Nations. I firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam in power, Martha.

Dave. He’s back.

Q Sorry, I’ve got to get disentangled —

THE PRESIDENT: Would you like me the go to somebody else here, until you — (laughter.)

Q Sorry.

THE PRESIDENT: But take your time, please. (Laughter.)….

December 9, 2001

….RUSSERT: Let me turn to Iraq. When you were last on this program, September 16, five days after the attack on our country, I asked you whether there was any evidence that Iraq was involved in the attack and you said no.

Since that time, a couple of articles have appeared which I want to get you to react to. The first: The Czech interior minister said today that an Iraqi intelligence officer met with Mohammed Atta, one of the ringleaders of the September 11 terrorists attacks on the United States, just five months before the synchronized hijackings and mass killings were carried out.

And this from James Woolsey, former CIA director: “We know that at Salman Pak, in the southern edge of Baghdad, five different eye witnesses–three Iraqi defectors and two American U.N. inspectors–have said, and now there are aerial photographs to show it, a Boeing 707 that was used for training of hijackers, including non-Iraqi hijackers, trained very secretly to take over airplanes with knives.”

And we have photographs. As you can see that little white speck, and there it is.

RUSSERT: The plane on the ground in Iraq used to train non-Iraqi hijackers.

Do you still believe there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?

CHENEY: Well, what we now have that’s developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that’s been pretty well confirmed, that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.

Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don’t know at this point. But that’s clearly an avenue that we want to pursue….

Ooops, not in the run up to the war, eh?

I wonder where they heard all this stuff?

Program on International Policy Attitudes, October 2, 2003 [pdf]

….An analysis of those who were asked all of the key three perception questions does reveal a remarkable level of variation in the presence of misperceptions according to news source. Standing out in the analysis are Fox and NPR/PBS–but for opposite reasons. Fox was the news source whose viewers had the most misperceptions. NPR/PBS are notable because their viewers and listeners consistently held fewer misperceptions than respondents who obtained their information from other news sources.

The table below shows this clearly. Listed are the breakouts of the sample according to the frequency of the three key misperceptions (i.e. the beliefs that evidence of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda have been found, that WMD have been found in Iraq and that world public opinion approved of the US going to war with Iraq) and their primary news source. Fox News watchers were most likely to hold misperceptions-and were more than twice as likely than the next nearest network to hold all three misperceptions. In the audience for NPR/PBS, however, there was an overwhelming majority who did not have any of the three misperceptions, and hardly any had all three.

The sad part? Viewers of CBS had almost the same tendencies towards misperception as viewers of the Faux News Channel.

There you have it, watching certain cable television networks will make you really stupid.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.