CBS & NBC Showcase Protests in India, Ignore Pro-U.S. & Pro-Bush Views of Indians

CBS reporter Jim Axelrod on Wednesday night described how “this is what awaited Mr. Bush upon his highly-publicized arrival in India: Tens of thousands turned out to protest America's presence in the Islamic world.” Also from New Delhi, NBC's David Gregory relayed how, over video of crowds and a few men around a burning effigy of Bush, “Mr. Bush has already been met by large anti-U.S., anti-war protests.” But while ABC's Martha Raddatz noted how Bush's “warm reception in Afghanistan stood in stark contrast to the scene when the President arrived later in India,” where “tens of thousands of demonstrators, mostly Muslim, lined the streets,” she pointed out what Axelrod and Gregory skipped: “Despite the demonstrations, the President has a strong approval rating here in India, roughly 70 percent."

Actually, the “2005 Pew Global Attitudes survey,” posted again Tuesday, “found that about seven-in-ten Indians (71%) have a favorable view of the United States,” not Bush, and that “while U.S. favorability ratings have plunged in many countries, Indians are significantly more positive about the United States now than they were in the summer of 2002.” As for Bush personally, the Pew poll discovered that he's “widely admired” in India where “just over half (54%)...say they have a lot or some confidence that Bush will generally do the right thing in world affairs, a significantly higher percentage than in any other country except his own.” (Transcripts, and more on the Pew poll, follow.)

Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show Wednesday, pointed out how the “drive-by media” were focusing on protesters while ignoring the pro-U.S. attitudes of most Indians. He read from a Tuesday posting on the “SiliconIndia” Web site, “U.S. a land of opportunity for Indians,” which recounted the Pew survey.

All three March 1 broadcast network evening newscasts squeezed President George W. Bush's arrival in New Delhi, and the protests which greeted him, into the end of stories on his surprise visit to Afghanistan where he met with President Hamid Karzai and addressed U.S. troops. The portion of each story which raised the protests in India, all of which featured brief video of the crowds:

CBS Evening News:
Jim Axelrod: “After his secret side trip, this is what awaited Mr. Bush upon his highly-publicized arrival in India: Tens of thousands turned out to protest America's presence in the Islamic world, while Mr. Bush was welcomed to New Delhi. Peaceful so far, police expect larger protests tomorrow.”

NBC Nightly News:
David Gregory: “Tonight, another first: The President arrived in New Delhi, just the fifth visit of a U.S. President to India. Mr. Bush comes to India at a delicate moment in the relationship between the U.S. and this, the second most populous country in the world. The Indian market is a rich prize for American business, but at the same time the Bush administration is interested in containing India's development of nuclear weapons. Mr. Bush has already been met by large anti-U.S., anti-war protests as he tries to strengthen ties to a growing power in a vital part of the world. David Gregory, NBC News, New Delhi.”

ABC's World News Tonight:
Martha Raddatz: "The warm reception in Afghanistan stood in stark contrast to the scene when the President arrived later in India. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, mostly Muslim, lined the streets of New Delhi. Despite the demonstrations, the President has a strong approval rating here in India, roughly 70 percent."

On Tuesday, the Pew Global Attitudes Project, a division of the respected Pew Research Center, posted a summary of its 2005 survey, released in June, of people in 16 nations with a large Muslim population. The title over the February 28 posting, “India: Pro-America, Pro-Bush; Bucking the Global Trend, U.S. Popularity Soared among Indians in '05.” An excerpt:
....The 2005 Pew Global Attitudes survey found that about seven-in-ten Indians (71%) have a favorable view of the United States. Of the 16 countries polled in the survey, only Americans themselves hold a more favorable view of their country. And while U.S. favorability ratings have plunged in many countries, Indians are significantly more positive about the United States now than they were in the summer of 2002, when 54% gave the U.S. favorable marks.

In the world's largest democracy, moreover, President Bush, who is unpopular in many countries around the globe, is also widely admired. Just over half (54%) of Indians say they have a lot or some confidence that Bush will generally do the right thing in world affairs, a significantly higher percentage than in any other country except his own....

Indians also have a strongly positive impression of the American people -- 71% have a favorable opinion of Americans, up from 58% in 2002. Moreover, Indians tend to associate Americans with positive character traits, and generally do not associate Americans with negative characteristics. Eight-in-ten (81%) Indians consider Americans hardworking, and 86% -- the highest percentage of any country surveyed, including the U.S. itself -- say Americans are inventive. Fewer (58%) regard Americans as honest, but even among U.S. respondents, Americans receive mediocre marks for truthfulness (63%). Meanwhile, Indians are among the least likely to associate Americans with negative traits such as greed, violence, rudeness, and immorality....
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Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center