Are you getting the truth about major events such as September 11, the War in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina? According to the Poynter Institute's Dr. Roy Peter Clark, "The truth is being distorted from all corners, and Americans don't see it, or if they do, too many don't seem to care."

The most powerful antidote to these distortions, Dr. Clark says, is critical literacy. Here are seven things Dr. Clark says you can do to recognize manipulation in government, media, business and advertising:
  1. Find three political bloggers who represent the right, the left and the middle. Consult them to help you sort through political issues and media messages.
  2. Look for role models of candor and accountability, people in public life who have proven to be reliable over time. Look especially for folks within a movement or political party who have the courage to speak against the interests of their own party.
  3. Prefer people who want to have a vigorous conversation to those who want to shout at each other.
  4. Do not be seduced into thinking that every hot-button issue requires you to be on one side or the other. There may be a middle ground. Don't be afraid to be puzzled or uncertain about an issue. It's okay to be working to make up your mind.
  5. Get up off the couch. Join a club. Volunteer. Sing in the choir. One way not to be fooled by political or media manipulation is to learn from direct experience, from reality and not reality TV.
  6. In an age of celebrity culture, try to pay more attention to people for what they do than for who they are.
  7. Be a skeptic, but not a cynic. A skeptic doubts knowledge. A cynic doubts moral goodness. The cynic says, "All politicians are liars," or "all journalists have a secret bias." The skeptic says, "That doesn't sound right to me. Show me the evidence."
In October 2006, Time Magazine together with The Oprah Winfrey Show asked America the same questions raised by Frank Rich's book, The Greatest Story Ever Sold? in an exclusive nation-wide poll. How do your views compare?

  1. Overall, do you think the Bush administration has been more honest and trustworthy than most other presidential administrations, less trustworthy and honest, or about the same?

    More honest and trustworthy 16%
    Less honest and trustworthy 40%
    About the same 42%

    The Poll finds that 4 in 10 Americans describe the Bush Administration as "less honest and trustworthy" than other presidential administrations, while only 16% term the administration "more honest and trustworthy." Another 42% say the Bush administration is about the same as others. This is little changed from polls conducted in late 2005 and early 2006.

  2. Do you think the United States was right or wrong in going to war with Iraq?

    Right 39%
    Wrong 52%
    Don't know 8%

    A majority, 52%, continue to say that the war was "wrong," while 39% say the U.S. was right to go to war. Both numbers have only changes slightly from June 2006.

  3. Do you think President Bush was truthful and honest, based on the intelligence he was given, when presented the case for war in Iraq, or do you think he deliberately misled Americans to build his case for war?

    Truthful and honest 41%
    Deliberately misled 52%
    Don't know 6%

    A majority of Americans (52%) now believe that President Bush "deliberately misled" Americans to build his case for the Iraq war. This percent is up four points from late last year. Only 41% now believe that the President was "truthful and honest" based on the intelligence he was given, which is down four points from late last year.
  1. Which of the following are your main sources of news about the Iraq war?

  1. Major national newspapers
Your local newspaper 40%
Television network news 56%
Cable news 50%
Fox News Channel on cable 36%
Weekly news magazine 20%
Radio talk shows 25%
News and blogs on the Internet 23%

  1. In our exclusive The Oprah Show/Time Magazine poll, none of the media gets very high marks for their coverage of the war in Iraq. But, of all of the news outlets, cable news channels get the highest scores for accurate reporting with a combined positive score of 51%.

  2. Please tell me how good a job each of the following has done in providing accurate information on the war in Iraq.

  1. Quality of Accuracy
Excellent Good Fair Poor Don't know
Cable news channels
19% 39% 24% 8% 11%
Television network news
12% 39% 31% 12% 7%
The US military
16% 31% 26% 14% 13%
Fox News Channel or their internet site
15% 30% 23% 14% 19%
Weekly news magazines
10% 29% 22% 6% 33%
Radio talk shows
5% 22% 26% 16% 31%
The Bush Administration
5% 18% 27% 45% 5%
Blogs on the internet
3% 15% 19% 12% 51%
The US Congress
2% 15% 38% 34% 11%
Major national newspapers
6% 29% 20% 11% 35%

This Time Magazine poll was conducted by telephone October 3, 2006 among a national random sample of 750 adults, age 18 and older throughout America.

The margin of error for the entire sample is approximately +/- 4 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for subgroups. Surveys are subject to other error sources as well, including sampling coverage error, recording error, and respondent error.

Schulman, Ronca, & Bucuvalas (SRBI) Public Affairs designed the survey and conducted all interviewing. The full Time questionnaire and trend data may be found at:


Next Story