Pushed or polled?

The practice of push polling is a devious one. It diminishes the work of legitimate surveys that the media and others use to find out what people think. Push polls, designed to change the minds of respondents rather than gauge their opinions, typically have questions with loaded language.

Defense attorneys in the Duke lacrosse case may have used a push poll recently. The attorneys for the accused players say they were simply seeking information, but the wording of this question, as reported by The News & Observer, indicates otherwise:

If you heard that two strippers were hired to perform for some men and one was saying she was locked into the bathroom and the other one was not there; and one said she was raped and the other contradicted her statement, one time saying she did not think anything happened, then later changed her story; and that the rape victim had changed her story several times; and then you learned that she had said she was raped at another time and nothing happened with that charge, would you be likely to believe a rape occurred?

Whew. That’s a 96-word question. Is it a fair one?