Hook, line and stinkers

Michelle Obama & Barack Obama

It was a stocking-filler for Gallup, a way to keep their profile polished while political news dried up over the holiday break, but what is interesting is the pure self-promotional puffery they produce when releasing the results and the way deadbeat media mental dwarfs take it all in: hook, line and stinkers.

I’m talking about Gallup’s ‘Most Admired’ poll released at the end of December and immediately reprinted or, more correctly, regurgitated by countless dullard-decile media band-waggoneers under whatever vacuous headline was prompted by the constant whistling in the empty space between their collective ears. They did this as they severed themselves from Twit-me and Face-news to indulge in the vital few seconds of concentration required to cut and paste, that being the onerous workload required of every card-carrying modern media-type when producing an ‘article’.

While Gallup’s actual release was headed reasonably soberly, “Michelle Obama Ends Hillary Clinton’s Run as Most Admired“, we all know that would never do for the obsessive-compulsives of the anti-Orange-Man media. It was quickly re-worked by Bloomberg to read “Obamas Top the Trumps as America?s Most Admired People” and then twisted again when Stuff ran the Bloomberg story under their own banner as “Obamas named America’s most admired people, ahead of Donald Trump“, thereby fixing their headline to their own political sensitivities, petty self-righteousness and inanity.

While Gallup, as one would expect, include such measure of the breakdown of their click-bait poll as they expect the average consumer of their meaningless piffle can cope with (very little), they are disingenuous as to their own method. They state in their press release that “Gallup’s annual survey, conducted Dec. 3-12 this year, asks Americans, in an open-ended question, to name the man and woman living anywhere in the world today whom they admire most.” The thing is, that’s simply untrue.

In fact Question 1 asked respondents “What man [in Question 2; woman] that you have heard or read about, living today in any part of the world, do you admire most and who is your second choice?” Results were collated on the frequency of an individual named as either first or second choice and that result ranked as a relative percentage of the total number of respondents, with Obama ranking as slightly less unpopular than Trump. 85% of respondents did not name Obama as either their first or second choice of ‘Most Admired’ while 87% did not name Trump.

No: I haven’t got the figures wrong. Just 15% naming the ex-president as either the first or second among the most-admired male individuals alive today was enough to make him Gallup’s Pin-Up Guy. What a crock.

Who is to say that Obama was actually named as a second-choice by all 15% of voters, or that Trump was first choice for all his 13% but out-done to the top of the ladder by the Hawaiian’s second-best ballots where those polled instead named a mentor, friend, father, brother, teacher, pastor or coach because that is exactly what they did.

In fact, and the truth is exactly as any common-sense person would instinctively feel, the overwhelming winner of Most-Admired percentage-wise was ‘Family member’ or ‘Other’, and that is as it should be. I suspect a poll of this country’s citizens would produce a very similar result. If asked to name their most admired woman still alive most New Zealanders would nominate their mother, perhaps an unsung hero, a close friend, a mentor, an indefatigable battler or a soul mate long before we would consider Jenny Shipley or Helen Clark as worthy of more admiration. That is not to belittle those two women’s considerable achievements; it simply says admiration comes from the heart, and issues of the heart are very close and personal things. I may be completely wrong. Maybe Susan Devoy or Metiria Turei would figure very high in the ratings, but I don?t think so.

What a shame it is that Gallup doesn’t re-format their poll and re-think the petty political nonsense that it has become. It would be far more fitting, and relevant, to see a headline which read “Brothers still most admired men, mothers most admired women for the 38th consecutive year, politicians still a (hugely) distant second?, or whatever the results of the poll actually and honestly threw up.

Why not nominate your own ‘most-admired’ living person in the comments and tell us why? Don?t be swayed by my opinion; there may be very many of us that hold someone they are acquainted with only through their sporting, technological, philanthropic or fishing achievements up as Most Admired. The results would be very interesting, and much more meaningful, than the plastic propaganda that Gallup’s festive season frivolity fell to.