Joel Mowbray looks at the integrity issues behind a new survey about Wal Mart by John Zogby. Mowbray points out that Zogby fails to disclose that he’s been paid nearly $90,000 to serve as an expert witness for individuals suing Wal-Mart. From the column:
As any pollster can attest, trust is the key issue, as polling — no matter how transparent or scientific it purports to be — hinges on the credibility of the wizard behind the curtain. Pollsters are masters of subtle manipulation, and small changes in wording can — and often do — yield substantially different results. Or questions can be asked in such a way that produce ambiguous results that can be interpreted in many different fashions.
Precisely because trust is so important, WakeUpWalMart.com hired Mr. Zogby to give its poll bashing Wal-Mart extra panache and an air of instant credibility. In a phone interview, WakeUpWalMart.com spokesman Chris Kofinis adamantly maintained that the poll was beyond reproach because Mr. Zogby is “an independent.” Which, not coincidentally, is exactly how the pollster described himself — again and again and again.
But how “independent” is it to, as Mr. Kofinis described it, draft poll questions “in consultation with” WakeUpWalMart.com, even though the reason Zogby polls are held in higher esteem is because they perceived to be more objective, more “independent?” And by Mr. Zogby’s own admission, WakeUpWalMart.com wrote the press release that he put his company’s name on and subsequently sent out. Mr. Kofinis knew this wouldn’t look good, and he didn’t fess up that his group wrote the Zogby press release until he was told that Mr. Zogby admitted it.
…Without the Zogby magic dust sprinkled on the poll, most would see it as yet another grenade lobbed at Wal-Mart by the unions, who have, thus far, failed to push the retailer’s million-plus employees into their ranks. The tantalizing prospect of landing billions in new compulsory dues has sprung Big Labor into action, crafting a campaign to give Wal-Mart a black eye and, they hope, forcing the retailer into submission.Zogby, it should be recalled, predicted a Kerry landslide, and Tom Delay’s defeat in 2002, neither of which occurred.