More See 'Surge' Success, But CBS Buries Poll Finding 20 Minutes Into Newscast

When a CBS News poll in July found 73 percent believed the surge of troops in Iraq was making the situation “worse” or having “no impact,” the CBS Evening News led with that number. But on Monday, when a new CBS poll discovered that percent had fallen 12 points to 61 percent, as the percent who think the surge is making the situation “better” jumped ten points from 19 to 29 percent, CBS gave it 12 seconds 20 minutes into the newscast. “Major attacks decline in Iraq: Military credits troop increase, civilian tipsters,” declared the headline at the top of Monday's USA Today front page. Katie Couric, however, ignored that report and, after briefly relaying the new poll number, couldn't resist highlighting “one thing that hasn't changed, two-thirds say that, overall, things are still going badly in Iraq.”

Couric had led the July 18 CBS Evening News: “In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, nearly three out of four Americans say the troop surge is not working, that it's having no impact, or actually making matters worse.” On Monday, she acknowledged: “Americans are starting to come around on that troop surge in Iraq. In our CBS News poll out tonight, 29 percent say the surge is making things better. That's a ten point increase since July.” It's doubtful the ten percent who have come around are consumers of CBS or other mainstream media outlets which concentrate on the negative.

My July 18 NewsBusters item recounted how Couric led that night's CBS Evening News:
Hello, everyone. Senate Democrats failed today in their latest attempt to bring American troops home from Iraq. After a rare, all-night debate, they couldn't come up with the votes today to bring the latest troop withdrawal measure to the floor. And that is in spite of pressure from the voters themselves. In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, nearly three out of four Americans say the troop surge is not working, that it's having no impact, or actually making matters worse. And nearly two out of three want the President to bring some or all U.S. forces home.
The two CBS News polls found the percent who believe the troop surge is making the situation “better” in Iraq grew from 19 to 29 percent while the percent saying the situation is “worse,” or the surge is having “no impact,” fell to 61, down from 73 percent a month or so ago. “No impact” fell from 53 to 46 percent and “making it worse” dropped from 20 to 15 percent. The CBSNews.com PDF comparing the July and August surveys.

Couric's August 13 Iraq news update about twenty minutes into her newscast, though it was followed by a story on the rescue of a malnourished Iraqi child whose picture was on the front page of Monday's New York Times, a topic also covered by the ABC and NBC evening newscasts:
Americans are starting to come around on that troop surge in Iraq. In our CBS News poll out tonight, 29 percent say the surge is making things better. That's a ten point increase since July. But one thing that hasn't changed, two-thirds say that, overall, things are still going badly in Iraq.
An excerpt from the August 13 USA Today top of the front page story, “Major attacks decline in Iraq: Military credits troop increase, civilian tipsters,” by Jim Michaels:
The number of truck bombs and other large al-Qaeda-style attacks in Iraq have declined nearly 50% since the United States started increasing troop levels in Iraq about six months ago, according to the U.S. military command in Iraq.

The high-profile attacks -- generally large bombs hitting markets, mosques or other "soft" targets that produce mass casualties -- have dropped to about 70 in July from a high during the past year of about 130 in March, according to the Multi-National Force-Iraq.

Military officers say the decline reflects progress in damaging al-Qaeda's networks in Iraq. The military has launched offensives around Baghdad aimed at al-Qaeda sanctuaries and bases.

"The enemy had the initiative and the momentum in '06," said Jack Keane, a retired general who is a chief architect of the increase in troop levels and mentor to Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. "We've got it now."...
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