After multiple Fox News personalities cited online polls declaring Donald Trump had won the first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, a Fox News executive sent a memo to staff Tuesday afternoon reminding them such polls should not be cited as though they were scientifically sound.
“As most of the publications themselves clearly state, the sample obviously can’t be representative of the electorate because they only reflect the views of those Internet users who have chosen to participate,” Fox’s vice president of public-opinion research, Dana Blanton, wrote in a memo obtained by Business Insider.
The morning after the debate, Trump tweeted screenshots of multiple online instant reaction polls from websites including CNBC and Breitbart News (whose CEO, Steve Bannon, now leads Trump’s campaign) where respondents voted him the “winner” of the debate:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2016
On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that “Every on-line poll, Time Magazine, Drudge, etc., has me winning the debate. Thank you to Fox & Friends for so reporting!”
Every on-line poll, Time Magazine, Drudge etc., has me winning the debate. Thank you to Fox & Friends for so reporting!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 28, 2016
Business Insider noted multiple Fox News personalities including Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade and Martha MacCallum referenced the post-debate polls without noting that they did not follow the same polling practices that, say, Fox News’ polls employ: random sampling and phone number generation rather than self-selected respondents, for example, and proportional numbers of racial and gender groups relative to the national average.
“Another problem — we know some campaigns/groups of supporters encourage people to vote in online polls and flood the results,” Blanton wrote. “These quickie click items do not meet our editorial standards.”
Reached for comment, a Fox News representative pointed out to Talking Points Memo that many of the hosts who cited the bogus polls are commentators, not journalists.