Borrowing a term that for better or worse pervades our landscape these days, we have to consider Public Policy Institute of California’s most recent poll results specific to the death penalty and the articles written about it as “Fake News.”
Because there are “Real Results” that shred the findings.
A question in the survey asked voters’ views on whether they supported the death penalty or life imprisonment for first-degree murder. PPIC broke down the results by “All Adults,” “party affiliation” and “Likely Voters.” All Adults supported life imprisonment over the death penalty 62 to 31 percent, respectively, and Likely Voters 58 to 38 percent, respectively.
PPIC then summarized that since 2000, support for the death penalty has fallen gradually from 49 to 31 percent.
What came next was article after article with these types of headlines: “Did Newsom ‘Defy’ The Will of The People on Executions? New Poll Says No” – “Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Agenda gets High Marks In New California Poll” and this opening paragraph from the San Jose Mercury News:
“A record high majority of Californians would rather see first-degree murderers sentenced to life in prison instead of the death penalty, a poll released Wednesday found, in a show of support for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s move to block executions in the state.”
This is where we have to call “Fake News.”
Why? Because there are “Actual Real Results” that fly in the face of PPIC’s survey and the news reporting. The media chose to take the PPIC numbers as face value, and ignored some key information. Just two years ago, in the 2016 election, “Real Voters,” not “Likely” ones – clearly supported the death penalty.
In that 2016 election, then-candidate Donald Trump got 4.4 million votes and Republicans in the Legislature lost Senate and Assembly seats, strongly indicating a more liberal voting pattern. Even given that liberal bent, Proposition 62, which would have repealed the death penalty, was voted against by more than 7.2 million voters (53.1%). The death penalty in California was supported by 2.8 million more voters than what candidate Trump received.
Even more astounding, not only did California voters support keeping the death penalty in that election, more than 6.6 million people (51.1%) passed Proposition 66, saying yes to speeding up the death penalty process.
“Real Results” clearly trump the media “Fake News” poll stories.
However, now, thanks to the PPIC inexplicably ignoring of the 2016 election results – not to mention the governor’s multiple promises to the people of California that he would uphold and respect their will on the death penalty issue – newspapers across the state and nation are reporting that Newsom’s unilateral moratorium does not break his promises to Californians nor thumb his nose at them. The story line now is that Newsom is now prophetic, that he knows what the voters want better than they themselves.
By failing to present the full evidence to the readers, the papers have twisted themselves into pretzels figuring out how to frame this to further the governor’s agenda and to undermine the will of the people of California. This is why people no longer trust the media – they pick and choose the truths that fit their narrative.