When Ed Schultz, the exuberant progressive cheerleader who hosts a nightly MSNBC show, exhorts his viewers to "Get your cell phones out," brace yourself -- chances are a comically slanted question is coming.
Since its debut more than a year ago, "The Ed Show" has featured a text message poll. After a lengthy, often impassioned monologue from the host, viewers are asked to text their replies, with the results announced at the end of the hour. It's a harmless gimmick and "Ed" is hardly the first show to use it. But Ed's poll has a unique twist: More often than not, 85 percent or more of the audience will come down on the same side -- Ed's side.
That's what happens when you ask questions like Friday night's: "Do you think it's a good thing that President Obama is fighting harder against the Republicans?" Not surprisingly, 95 percent of the show's liberal audience -- which has been subject to countless hours of Ed pleading with the president to adopt a more assertive posture -- thought it was a good thing. The "Ed" show polls have all the suspense of a sham third-world election. It's enough to make us wonder: Why does anyone even bother replying?
Here are our 12 favorite ridiculously leading "Ed Show" poll questions of the last few months:
- "Do you trust Republicans to play by the rules with election money?" 5 percent yes; 95 percent no (Oct. 19).
- "Should reporters face arrest for asking tough questions?" 4 percent yes; 96 percent no (Oct. 18).
- "Are you in favor of abolishing the public school system?" 4 percent yes; 96 percent no (Oct. 14).
- "Do you think profitable U.S. companies have a patriotic responsibility to create American jobs?" 93 percent yes; 7 percent no (Oct. 7).
- "Do you think Republicans care more about saving money than educating kids?" 92 percent yes; 8 percent no (Sept. 29).
- "Do you believe Republican leadership has solutions for anything?" 11 percent yes; 89 percent no (Sept. 27).
- "Do you think the GOP and the righty talk show hosts are destroying the American dream?" 93 percent yes; 7 percent no (Sept. 21).
- "Do you think kids should need a parental permission slip to watch President Obama's speech?" 4 percent yes; 96 percent no (Sept. 14).
- "If Republicans win back the majority, do you believe that they would try to shut down the government and impeach President Obama?" 93 percent yes; 7 percent no (Sept. 2).
- "Do you think political candidates should be on the Fox News payroll?" 8 percent yes; 92 percent no (Aug. 17).
- "Do you think John Boehner cares more about playing golf or helping Americans?" 89 percent golf; 11 percent helping Americans (Aug. 9).
- "Do you believe big business wants to see President Obama fail?" 98 percent yes; 2 percent no (Aug. 3).