Sunday, 10 June 2012

What is it with the Daily Mail and gay marriage polls?

Once again the Daily Mail has skewed its reporting of gay marriage polling.

On Friday the paper covered a survey commissioned by Catholic Voice canvassing the LGBT members of society for their views on gay marriage.

The headline claimed that just over a quarter of respondents said they would marry should the law be changed.

As covered on The Guardian's Reality Check & Full Fact, what the question actually asked was whether those surveyed would marry their current partner if the system changes. (see table 2 on page 3 of the report.)

The headline therefore is almost as silly as asking straight people if they think they will marry their current partner, and then presenting the findings as support for the institution of marriage in general.

This is just the latest in a series of headlines that have put a spin on what poll findings tell us about support for gay marriage..

Last year the paper claimed cobbled together a story claiming most Britons opposed gay marriage when a) the stats were from 2006 and b) the for/against split was 46% in favour 45% against.

After a complaint, the paper published a correction.

But in a similar vein the Press Complaints Commission received a complaint about another dodgy headline on the subject.

A headline in the paper claimed that another survey showed "most Britons" opposed gay marriage, when the percentage was 47 per cent.

Thankfully the Mail is free to take whatever view it likes on the issue of gay marriage, whether I or you agree with them is immaterial.

But taking a clear view on an issue and consistently putting an unsupportable spin on poll findings on the subject  is a different thing all together.

Is it too much to ask that whatever the post-Leveson regulation landscape looks like, publishers, while free to take sides, will at least have to do this within the hardly-constricting confines of the facts? 

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