ABC Finds the Positive In Obama's Low Approval Numbers; 'He Has Stopped the Free Fall'

ABC's Good Morning America provided the most positive spin it could from new Obama approval numbers, declaring that "he has stopped the free-fall" and reporting only the two least negative disapproval ratings for the President.

"And meanwhile, the President getting some new polls out this morning that show he may have stopped the bleeding from that botched rollout of the ObamaCare website," reported co-host George Stephanopoulos. ABC failed to mention Obama's 50 percent disapproval, just vaguely noting "his disapproval rating still higher than his approval rating."

ABC chose the two polls with the lowest disapproval rating, the USA Today/Pew poll (49 percent disapproval) and the CBS News/New York Times poll (50 percent disapproval). It left out the NBC News/WSJ poll which had Obama at 54 percent disapproval, Bloomberg at 55, Quinnipiac at 57, and the Associated Press/GfK at 58.

White House correspondent Jonathan Karl still acknowledged that the polls were "still pretty bad for the President," but sweetened the bad poll numbers:

"But he has stopped the free-fall, and now the White House hopes that they've got the website pretty much fixed, that the President can begin to see those poll numbers actually go up. Right now, at least, they're not going lower."

Over at the Today show, Chuck Todd was much tougher on the President. He noted Obama's "record low" disapproval and added that only 28 percent were "proud or satisfied" with his presidency, with 50 percent "disappointed or dissatisfied with the Obama presidency."

Todd actually compared President Bush's second term slide with Obama's:

"And it's interesting right now, a lot of people make the comparison, is health care President Obama's Katrina? And there's certainly – there's certainly a lot of evidence to say it is working the same way. You've seen the same drop in approval rating, same drop in favorability rating, leadership issues, suddenly add help to the other side."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on Good Morning America on December 11:

[7:01]

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And we've got President Obama, he just arrived home a short time ago from South Africa. You see him getting off Air Force One right there with the First Lady. Came back to news of a bipartisan budget deal. Could it put an end to government shutdowns is the question. And look at this picture just released from the trip on Air Force One. There's the President and President Bush getting ready to have dinner there with their wives. They're in the conference room of Air Force One right there. It was a long flight. Looks like they got along.

ROBIN ROBERTS: It does look that way. But it was another photograph, a selfie, of the President, with the British prime minister and the Danish prime minister. That's making headlines this morning. And we're learning the story behind that particular photo and what's captured.

(...)

[7:08]

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go to D.C. now where President Obama landed earlier this morning from the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. He's arriving to the news that lawmakers have reached a budget deal. ABC's Jonathan Karl is at the White House this morning. And Jon, it's a modest deal, but if it holds, no government shutdowns for at least two years.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC News chief White House correspondent: Yeah George, a modest deal. But given what we have seen over the past two years, this is what counts as a major breakthrough in Washington. In addition to doing away with the possibility of a government shutdown, it would also undo many of the automatic spending cuts that were scheduled to go into effect in January including big cuts to defense. But what was most striking about the deal was that picture you see right there, how it was announced. Paul Ryan, one of the top conservatives in Washington and Patty Murray, one of the most liberal U.S. senators, coming together and announcing this deal. But George, it still has to pass, and you'll see people on the left and the right complaining about this because guess what, it's a compromise, and that means neither side got everything they wanted.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay. And meanwhile, the President getting some new polls out this morning that show he may have stopped the bleeding from that botched rollout of the ObamaCare website.

KARL: That's right. Take a look at these poll numbers, they're actually several new polls out. All of them still pretty bad for the President. You see his disapproval rating still higher than his approval rating. But he has stopped the free-fall, and now the White House hopes that they've got the website pretty much fixed, that the President can begin to see those poll numbers actually go up. Right now, at least, they're not going lower.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Jon, before we came on the air, the White House released those photos from Air Force One, we're going to show a couple more of them. Now maybe to drown out the chatter over that selfie?

KARL: Maybe. But first, these photos are quite remarkable. You imagine former President Bush must have been looking at his paintings on that iPad. But seeing the two of them together with Hillary Clinton on Air Force One, quite a sight. As for the selfie seen around the world, we're learning a little bit more about this. The photographer who took this picture of the selfie says that just a few seconds later, Michelle was actually laughing and enjoying herself, with them as well. She wasn't actually upset as she looks in that photograph.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said she was laughing a few seconds before as well.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014