Saturday, November 26, 2005

66% of Lebanese believe that US/France/UK interfere in Lebanese political affairs. There are very good political polling firms in Lebanon: the most reliable are the ones owned by Kamal Fghali, `Abduh Sa`d, and Jihad `Adrah. I have talked to all three, and asked about their methods and methodologies and find them reliable (although like rivals in the polling business in general, they all question the reliability of the other rival firms). The most unreliable is the one owned by An-Nahar-Lebanese Forces associate, Antone Shuwayri. This man has a deal with An-Nahar according to which the paper exercises monopoly over the firms that deal with press ads, circulation, and distribution. And to get a small portion of the pie, you have to be on good terms with AnNahar, and to avoid criticizing them. And this Shuwayri guy also provides TV ratings for Middle East media to advertisers. But he deliberately favors LBC-TV in his "ratings' surveys as New TV illustrated in a study it did recently. He focuses on people's viewing habits in Christian East Beirut to favor LBC TV at the expense of the rival stations. An-Nahar relies for its public opinion polling firm that is I think linked to him too, and the questions as always reveal the political biases of AnNahar. Today, An-Nahar has a public opinion survey dealing with Lebanese views of recent events in Lebanon, and the results only confirm the sectarian consciousness of the Lebanese and the deep divisions in society regarding the major issues. And An-Nahar always places a headline that would represent its right-wing sectarian Christian biases. Also, to make the results more sensational, the paper does not distinguish between "majority" and "plurality"--it uses the Arabic word "akthariyyah" for both, thus confusing the readers about the results, and boosting the results when it wants. I can see the results of the survey, and stress different figures from what AnNahar emphasized. For example, more than 46% of all Lebanese consider the Mehis report either purely political or "political AND technical." But An-Nahar stresses that 39.25 % of Lebanese find the report "technical-legal". But the sectarian breakdown (as provided by the paper) tells a different story: that people in South Lebanon and Biqa` are very skeptical, and skepticism also exists among Sunnis. And more than 49% of Lebanese support a campaign based on socio-economic (living) conditions against the Lebanese government. And An-Nahar very suspiciously leave buried in the report a major finding: that 66% of Lebanese believe that US/France/UK interfere in Lebanese political affairs. But the survey does not ask the Lebanese to give a value judgement of that interference; it only ask for such value judgment of the Syrian role. And when Lebanese are asked if their country is free, the survey deliberately and manipulatively splits the results: those surveyed are asked whether their country is free and whether the country is under a new guardianship and whether the country is not free. Now two categories (of being "unfree" and "under a new guardianship"), are the same, but the results would have been too embarrassing for the government and its external patrons. Thus, it reports that 32% of Lebanese think that the country is under a new guardianship, and 31.75 % dont think that Lebanon is free. Now those two results should have been combined to report some 63% of Lebanese don't think that Lebanon is free.