Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2020

Department 1



In 2008, the Annenburg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania conducted a poll to determine just how informed voters were following that year’s presidential election. One of the most shocking things they found was that 46.4% of those polled still believed that Saddam Hussein played a role in the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11th, 2001. No evidence had ever emerged linking him to it after 5 years of war in Iraq, but that did not matter, as “voters, once deceived, tend to stay that way despite all evidence.” Botched initial reporting can permanently entrench false information into the public’s mind and influence them to come to faulty conclusions as a result. This power of first impressions gives journalists an immense and solemn responsibility when conveying events. A misleading headline or an unsubstantiated report can sway the public towards similarly flawed conclusions with disastrous results.


Written for HIST 300: Historical Methods.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.