Did The Washington Post Politicize Disaster Relief?

A new Washington Post/Pew poll published Tuesday leads one to believe that Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (R) wants to source disaster relief funds for his own state by scouring the corners of the federal budget, not by using existing federal funds. That could not be further from the truth. Superceding the poll results was another Post story, dated April 21, setting up their narrative. The first sentence of their story is this: “Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will insist that any federal aid to deal with the tornado in his home state must be offset by budget cuts.”

In fact, what Senator Coburn essentially said was this: “Let’s first look to use existing disaster relief funds to help Oklahoma.  If that’s not enough, then let’s look at our $4 trillion budget and trim a fraction of waste to help the tornado victims.”

Senator Tom Coburn
Credit: Politico

The Federal Government has had an established Disaster Relief Fund since 1988, and the majority of Americans believe that federal funds should be made available. In fact, the current balance of the disaster fund is $11.6 billion.  The Post/Pew poll failed to mention this tidbit in their polling questions. They should have, because a great many Americans may not be aware of the fund’s existence. Instead, respondents were lead to believe by the Post’s carefully-worded questions that disaster relief would only be coming from cuts to other areas of the budget. Thus the Post was able to trumpet faux indignation on behalf of those polled. The Post misrepresented Tom Coburn’s position on disaster relief funds and politicized a natural disaster with their Pew Research Center poll.

1 Comment

  1. May 30, 2013  9:45 am by Jack Reply

    One of the many pollsters that shape the response by manipulating the way a question is positioned. It wouldn't be a suprise if the Feds, the pollsters and the newspapers colluded to created the polling questions to promote the Obama agenda. Good work on exposing how the Post & Pew work hand-and-glove to shape public opinion.

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