CNN misrepresented data from Gallup polling about Americans’ willingness to return to their pre-coronavirus activities in a report and also deleted a tweet about the polling.
A Gallup poll released May 11 asked respondents what would be important to them in deciding when to return to their “normal activities.”
Among the 11 questions was this: “How important are each of the following factors to you when thinking about your willingness to return to your normal activities?”
One of the factors listed was the “availability of a vaccine to prevent COVID-19,” which respondents were asked to rate as “very important,” “somewhat important,” “not too important” or “not important at all.”
Sixty-eight percent of respondents said a vaccine would be “very important” in their decision to return to “normal activities.”
But CNN’s report on the survey question, which it did not cite, depicted the survey as simply finding that more than two-thirds of Americans believe a vaccine is “needed” before they are willing to return to “normal.”
The outlet claimed that “68% of Americans say a coronavirus vaccine is needed before returning to normal life, a new survey finds.”
The CNN report has since been updated, and a tweet sharing the report has been removed.
The question on the survey simply asked respondents if they felt a vaccine, among other factors, is “important” to them, and not if it is a “needed” criteria.
Nicholas Grossman, an editor for ARC Digital, took particular exception with CNN’s portrayal of the Gallup findings and laid into the network for its misrepresentation of the sentiment surrounding respondents’ eagerness to return to their lives.
“The term ‘normal life’ is ambiguous. Does it mean a return to pre-coronavirus normal, with no masks in public, packed restaurants, and no worries about large indoor gatherings such as concerts, basketball games, and conferences? Does it mean the end of government-mandated lockdowns, which many states are easing already? Maybe it means something in between. The CNN article doesn’t say,” Grossman wrote.
“Even worse, the data doesn’t match CNN’s headline or tweet, which is all many people will see in the age of social media,” he wrote. “The article doesn’t link to any polls — never a good sign — but mentions ‘two Gallup surveys.’ I searched Gallup’s polling on coronavirus, and the survey questions are less ambiguous regarding ‘normal life,’ with results that differ substantially from CNN’s claim.”
Grossman, using the same information that CNN apparently used but did not cite, came to a completely different conclusion when looking at Gallup polling on the coronavirus.
Gallup polled Americans between April 27 and May 3 and asked, “If there were no government restrictions and people were able to decide for themselves about being out in public, how soon would you return to your normal day-to-day activities?”
Of the four options given, only 9 percent of respondents cited a vaccine as being the deciding factor for them to return to “normal day-to-day activities.”
Gallup asked respondents in the May 11 survey to evaluate the importance of nearly a dozen different factors with regard to returning to “normal activities,” and three of them were more important to people than a vaccine.
“Mandatory quarantine” for those diagnosed with the coronavirus was the most important factor for respondents, while “improved medical therapies” and a “significant reduction” in cases and deaths were also cited as being more important than a vaccine.
The polling essentially finds that Americans are weighing many factors as they decide on resuming their normal activities.
CNN cherry-picked the vaccine question and portrayed it as a binary issue for a majority of Americans.
The truth is that fewer than 10 percent of those surveyed by Gallup would base resuming their lives on the development and implementation of a vaccine if there were no government restrictions.
The CNN article now has an adjusted headline, and notes in a “clarification” at the bottom, “The post was also clarified to emphasize that respondents were rating the importance of each benchmark to their willingness to return to regular activities.”
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